What is Water Table in Construction?

February 17, 2024

Any time there is a flood showcased on the news or your friends’ home experiences water problems, you may hear about something called a “water table.” What is it exactly and what does it have to do with my house?

The water table is a term used to describe the groundwater level. It is the boundary where the groundwater saturates the space between sediments and cracks in the soil surface and rocks. Above the water table is an unsaturated zone where oxygen and water are both present. This is also referred to as the “zone of saturation.” Water tables vary according to season, climate and human activity, including the pumping out of groundwater for drinking and agricultural uses.

During the Winter and Spring when precipitation levels are high and snow melts, water rises and pushes up the water table. During Summer, the water level tends to fall as days are drier and plants take up the water from the soil surface prior to it sinking down toward the water table.

If you live in an area with a high water table, the soil surrounding your home can swell, becoming saturated and exerting pressure on foundation walls. This can result in basement leaks, shifts in foundation and other construction issues.

When you build a home, the soil conditions and drainage around your property should be evaluated in order to prevent high water tables from impacting your project. Civil engineers are trained to assess site-specific conditions and understand how different geological formations can affect a project.


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