Why Do Whole Pond Seepage Tests Cost So Much?
The original Whole Pond Seepage Test (WPT) was developed at Kansas State University nearly 20 years ago and was a real step forward in rapid, accurate lagoon seepage testing. It’s advantages include rapid results that represent the liner underlying the entire water surface of the pond. Prior methods typically involved intrusive and often difficult sampling at spot locations that might represent only one millionth of the pond bottom. The WPT has thus become the Gold Standard for seepage testing and it is increasingly being required by regulators. Historically, the test often cost $3,000 or more depending on the following parameters:
• The test requires the use of sensitive (expensive) electronic sensors, data collection, and communications equipment.
• The hydrostatic depth sensors must be regularly calibrated for accuracy.
• The equipment must be setup and retrieved by trained technicians whose travel time and costs can be quite significant.
• Only data recorded under specific limits in water and air temperatures and low wind speeds is usable in statistically valid seepage calculations. The system, therefore, may have to be deployed for extended periods of time if weather conditions are outside of the accepted limits.
• Any equipment malfunction will require traveling to the site for evaluation and often retrieval, repair, and redeployment.
• Cellular and internet services are required for remote monitoring and data download.
• Qualified engineers or technicians are required to screen the data, calculate the resulting seepage rate, and write a seepage report to regulatory agency standards.
There is good news however! The WPT system has been routinely improved by the same people that collaborated with KSU in developing the original research system. Advances in electronics accuracy and dependability now allow much higher accuracy, in less time, with more rugged dependability and fewer operational challenges. Additionally, the use of remote communications allows potential of simultaneously testing several ponds co-located at one feedlot with no more travel time and expense than required to test one pond. These recent investments in system improvement with geographically distributed staffing have allowed us to reduce WPT cost by 30% to 60%.