Project Status: Completed


When constructing roads, materials are affected by water rising up through the compacted layers, this capillary rise effect is measured and provided to Main Roads. As this is a requirement, designers use various methods to demonstrate the suitability of their designs. WARRIP is working towards providing a reliable and approved test method to ensure the best practice methodology is applied.


Cost saving are anticipated due to the WARRIP capillary rise test method which more accurately measures true capillary rise in Western Australian soils. We can now design thinner drainage cover in our pavements leading to material and construction savings.


Capillary rise is the phenomenon where a liquid rises within a soil above the phreatic surface. There is currently no standard test method for measuring the capillary rise of non-cohesive soils which are common foundation and select fill materials within the Perth region.

WARRIP undertook a laboratory investigation to develop a standard test method which would allow the capillary rise of local Perth non-cohesive soils to be measured.


This project undertook a vast review of national and international literature as a first step followed by design and execution of an in-depth laboratory investigation. The laboratory investigation included development of a suitable sample apparatus, specification of sample preparation steps and test duration in addition to detailing the required calculations and measurements for obtaining a capillary rise height.


The project successfully produced a standard test method ready for peer review by the local pavement design industry.

Main Roads will be able to publish this test method and revise pavement drainage cover thicknesses based on more accurate measurements of capillary rise in Western Australian soils.

  • In depth review of national and international practice for measuring capillary rise
  • Laboratory investigation to develop a practical, repeatable test method
  • Publication of a local test method for peer review by local industry

Next steps