Draining in a New Direction

by Paul M. Santi, Asst. Prof.; Dept. of Geological and Petroleum Engrg. at the Univ. of Missouri at Rolla, Rolla, MO,
C. Dale Elifrits, Investigator; Rock Mechanics and Explosives Res. Ctr., Univ. of Missouri at Rolla, Roll, MO,
James A. Liljegren, Geotech. Engr.; Black and Veatch, Overland Park, KS,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 6, Pg. A10-A16

Document Type: Feature article


(Available on in special edition) Wick drains can stabilize slopes and landslides by accelerating soil consolidation and settlement. But conventional wick drains, driven vertically into the ground with a crane, tend to clog with fines and need periodic cleaning. Additionally, because they are made of inflexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC), they can be ruptured by landslide movement. Horizontal wick drains, however, alleviate some of these drawbacks. Horizontal drains are encased in a geotextile fabric of fine mesh that reduces clogging, and they may be deformed by as much as 60 to 100 percent before rupturing. The drains are currently being monitored at three test sites in Missouri, four in Colorado, and one in Indiana. So far, the horizontal drains have cost less to install than the vertical types. A crew, an equipment operator, and three laborers, with two to three days of site work can install 12 to 21 m of wick drains in one hour. Since 1998 more than 100 drains totaling almost 1,500 m have been installed at eight sites, and significant drainage and reductions in the water table have occurred.

Subject Headings: Drainage

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