Making groundwater level monitoring affordable

The Pocket Dipper groundwater level measurement device for Groundwater ReliefIn 2013, Hydrogeologists without Borders UK (now Groundwater Relief) initiated a competition along with Engineers without Borders UK to design an affordable easy to use groundwater level measuring device.

Collecting water level data from wells and boreholes is vital to the understanding and management of groundwater resources. The scarcity of good long-term groundwater level data in developing countries is a contributory factor towards poor groundwater management.

Pocket Dipper in action at a borehole at Birmingham UniversityThe design competition was based on the premise that current methods for measuring water levels are relatively expensive, and are not always easy to deploy and use in the field. So, can they be improved and made affordable?

And the Winner is…
The competition attracted submissions worldwide and came up with some wonderfully creative, and sometimes wacky ideas. The judging panel (which included myself along with two other hydrogeologists, an engineer and a design engineer) had a really tough time in drawing up a short list of 10 designs which went forward to the final stage of judging. The best 4 were invited to an award ceremony in London on 27 June 2014 to present working prototypes or videos of their concepts.

The winner, by unanimous decision of all judges was Tom Stone who in his spare time developed the concept of the “Level Bomb” – now branded the “Pocket Dipper”. Tom, as many of you will know, works on the sales team at In-Situ Europe – and his technical curiosity and insights into how equipment is used in the field are a real asset to the business. Well done Tom and congratulations!

Designing the Pocket Dipper
The Pocket Dipper is an electrical dip probe without the tape – the probe contains the electronics, battery and sounder. From Tom’s original concept it has taken 2 years and several design permutations to get to where it is now. Design work has been generously undertaken without charge by Cre’active Design of Leamington Spa.

To measure the depth to water level, the Pocket Dipper can be attached to anything from a piece of string to a surveyor’s tape. It works by continuously emitting a sound which is attenuated when submerged.  It has its limitations, not least the volume of sound emitted, but it should work to depths of up to a 30 metres below ground - possibly deeper.  For more technical information, see the following two pdf sheets provided by Groundwater Relief (PDF's open in a new browser tab).

Testing the Waters…
The prototype Pocket Dipper is currently being tested before going to market. It is in need of your financial support to take it from a prototype to a production instrument and to make it as affordable as possible. Groundwater Relief estimate they need £3,500 ($4,600) to achieve this.

For a good demonstration see the following Pocket Dipper video from Oxfam.

And for further information contact Geraint Burrows, CEO of Groundwater Relief by emailing

Groundwater Relief is a UK registered charity. Its objective is “to prevent and relieve poverty and sickness and promote the good health of people anywhere in the world by developing their and their water providers capacity to sustainably use and develop groundwater resources”.

It is estimated that groundwater sources are needed to supply 3.4 billion people - 50% of the world’s population.

For more go to

And having said all that It’s probably worth thinking a little about accuracy of measurements with dip tapes – perhaps in the next blog.

 ©Peter Dumble 2016 


In-Situ Europe - NEW. Water Level Meter  100 & 200. Incorporating Drawdown Mode