image of MPD infiltrometer
The modified Philip-Dunne infiltrometer, as well as other direct infiltration measurements such as double ring infiltrometers, are preferred methods for measuring infiltration rates, compared to soil borings and pits. Image: University of Minnesota, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.
Warning: The Construction Stormwater permit includes the following requirements.

16.10. Permittees must provide at least one soil boring, test pit or infiltrometer test in the location of the infiltration practice for determining infiltration rates.

16.11. For design purposes, permittees must divide field measured infiltration rates by 2 as a safety factor or permittees can use soil-boring results with the infiltration rate chart in the Minnesota Stormwater Manual to determine design infiltration rates. When soil borings indicate type A soils, permittees should perform field measurements to verify the rate is not above 8.3 inches per hour. This permit prohibits infiltration if the field measured infiltration rate is above 8.3 inches per hour.


Designers should evaluate soil properties during preliminary site layout with the intent of installing infiltration practices on soils with the highest infiltration rates ( hydrologic soil group A and B). Preliminary planning for the location of an infiltration device may be completed using a county soil survey or the NRCS Web Soil Survey. These publications provide HSG information for soils across Minnesota. To ensure long-term performance, however, field soil measurements are desired to provide site-specific data.

If the initial evaluation indicates that an infiltration practice would be a good BMP for the site, it is RECOMMENDED that soil borings or pits be dug within the proposed boundary of the infiltration practice to verify soil types and infiltration capacity characteristics and to determine the depth to groundwater and bedrock. Soil borings for building structural analysis are not acceptable. In all design scenarios, a minimum of one soil boring (two are recommended) shall be completed to a depth 5 feet below the bottom of the proposed infiltration Stormwater Control Measure (SCM or BMP) (Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District, 2012) per ASTM D1586 (ASTM, 2011). For infiltration SCMs with surface area between 1000 and 5000 square feet, two borings shall be made. Between 5000 and 10000 square feet, three borings are needed, and for systems with greater than 10000 square feet in surface area, 4 or more borings are needed. For each additional 2500 square feet beyond 12,500 square feet, an additional soil boring should be made. Soil borings must be undertaken during the design phase (i.e. prior to the commencement of construction) to determine how extensive the soil testing will be during construction. Borings should be completed using continuous split spoon sampling, with blow counts being recorded to determine the level of compaction of the soil. Soil borings are needed to understand soil types, seasonally high groundwater table elevation, depth to karst, and bedrock elevations.

Recommended number of soil borings, pits or permeameter tests for bioretention design. Designers select one of these methods.
Link to this table

Surface area of stormwater control measure (BMP)(ft2) Borings Pits Permeameter tests
< 1000 1 1 5
1000 to 5000 2 2 10
5000 to 10000 3 3 15
>10000 41 41 202

1an additional soil boring or pit should be completed for each additional 2,500 ft2 above 12,500 ft2
2an additional five permeameter tests should be completed for each additional 5,000 ft2 above 15,000 ft2


It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that soil profile descriptions be recorded and include the following information for each soil horizon or layer (Source: Site Evaluation for Stormwater Infiltration, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Practice Standards 2004):

  • thickness, in inches or decimal feet;
  • Munsell soil color notation;
  • soil mottle or redoximorphic feature color, abundance, size and contrast;
  • USDA soil textural class with rock fragment modifiers;
  • soil structure, grade size and shape;
  • soil consistence, root abundance and size;
  • soil boundary; and
  • occurrence of saturated soil, impermeable layers/lenses, ground water, bedrock or disturbed soil.

It is RECOMMENDED that a standard soil boring form be used. A good example is File:Boring Pit Log form.docx. The NRCS Field Book for Describing and Sampling Soils provide detailed information for identifying soil characteristics. Munsell color charts can be found here.

Warning: A separation distance of 3 feet is REQUIRED between the bottom of the infiltration practice and the elevation of the seasonally high water table (saturated soil) or top of bedrock (i.e. there must be a minimum of 3 feet of undisturbed soil beneath the infiltration practice and the seasonally high water table or top of bedrock).

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that the field verification be conducted by a qualified geotechnical professional.

This page was last edited on 28 July 2022, at 19:16.