Evaluation and Maintenance of Piezometers, Relief Wells, and Drains in Dams and Levees: On-Demand

Many dams and levees have embankment drains, structure underdrains, and relief wells to control seepage through and beneath the dam and piezometers to monitor the performance of these features. Dam and levee owners, managers, and maintenance staff may be uncertain about the function of these features and what maintenance is required. This webinar will summarize seepage principles and terminology in layman’s terms and describe the purposes and function of relief wells, drains, and piezometers. Examples will be shown of the types of deterioration and damage that can occur. Procedures for evaluating monitoring data and inspecting, testing, and repairing drainage features and piezometers will be be presented. Experienced professional guidance is needed to avoid damage, but much of the work can be performed by the local maintenance personnel using common equipment and home-built tools.

Key takeaways:
Seepage principles and terminology
How piezometers, relief wells and drains work and what can go wrong with them
Equipment and procedures to evaluate and rehabilitate drainage features and instruments 
What parts of the work can be done by local maintenance staff
Examples of unseen problems disclosed during evaluations

Charles N. Easton, P.E.

Freese and Nichols, Inc./Senior Geotechnical Engineer VII

Chuck Easton, P.E., is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer with Freese and Nichols, Inc. (FNI) in Fort Worth, Texas.  He graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in  Civil engineering and an M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering. He worked 1-1/2 years for USACE in Alaska, 30 years for Woodward-Clyde Consultants in Nebraska and Texas, and 18 years for FNI.  His experience includes geotechnical investigations and construction inspection for shallow and deep foundations for buildings, industrial facilities, and infrastructure; site improvement; and design, evaluation and repair of earth and concrete dams.  Instrumentation has been a special interest throughout his career.  He began evaluating and servicing instrumentation, relief wells, and drain systems in dams and spillways about 2001, and has performed comprehensive evaluations of such systems for more than a dozen medium-sized and large dams, often with the assistance of one or more of the local dam maintenance staff.

Russell Glenn Springer, P.E.

Freese and Nichols, Inc./Geotechnical Engineer V

Russ Springer, P.E., is an Engineer V with Freese and Nichols, Inc. (FNI) in Fort Worth, Texas.  He received a B.S. in Geological Engineering from the University of Missouri, Rolla.  He worked as a field engineer for SGT, LLC at Callaway Nuclear Plant in Fulton, Missouri for 3-1/2 years on a steam geneator replacement proect.  He worked as a geotechnical engineer and CMT project manager for Terracon, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, for 3-1/2 years.  He has been with FNI since 2007 and has worked on geotechnical investigations for dams; water and wastewater impoundments and tanks; and pipelines, pump stations, and lift stations as well as other structures.  He been involved in evaluation, repairs, and documentation for several major dams in Texas and Oklahoma.



  • The most important thing to be learned today


  • Soil, water, and energy
  • Seepage through embankments
  • Seepage through foundations


  • Construction, reading, and data interpretation
  • Condition evaluation
  • Treatment


  • Construction
  • Evaluation
  • Treatment


  • Types and features
  • Condition evaluation
  • Treatment




On- Demand Webinar
Open to view video.
Open to view video. This is the recording of the July 10, 2018 live broadcast.
Post Survey
5 Questions
5 Questions Post Survey
Completion Quiz
10 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  6/10 points to pass
10 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  6/10 points to pass
Completion Certificate
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available