Seepage Programs Applicable to Undergraduate Engineering Courses

To all who made suggestions on this:

Thank you so much for all informative suggestions. I am copying here of all those responses so far since someone like me might be interested. This is in order of the receptions. If you want to contact the author of those, please let me know. Thank you again. Isao
1. Try using Excel with the finite difference equations programmed (see Groundwater by Freeze and Cherry). It takes probably 1 additional lecture.
Inputting the boundary conditions to find the equipotentials is easy, but not as easy for the flowlines - you have to come up with the
orthogonal set of conditions. Perhaps it isn't as user-friendly as an off the shelf program, but everybody will have access to Excel (or your other favorite spreadsheet).
2. My experience in practice as well as with graduate programs is that Geoslope software (SEEP/W) is very user-friendly and practical. In fact I would look for that experience from new graduates of any geotechnical engineering program. The graphical capabilities allow complete presentation of all components of a flownet in a number of different formats.
3. Please let us all know if you find one!
4. FEHT (Finite element for heat transfer) is a highly suitable package for educational use. Your request is particularly timely as I just spoke with my own Dean about purchasing this product myself this evening. It runs
$800 for a university license. The program was developed at the University of Wisconsin and is available in a Windows version.
5. Try PC-Seep from GeoSlope.
6. In my seepage and drainage class I use the program SEEP/W. It is a CAD-based, windows program, very easy to use but very powerful
(steady-state, transient, saturated and unsaturated flow). There is also a student version that is either free or very cheap. Contact:

Geo-Slope International
Suite 1400, 633 - 6th Ave. S.W.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2Y5
Phone: (403) 269-2002
7. I use finite differences on Excel for undergraduate seepage flownet construction. You can adjust row and column heights to have a perfect square grid then use the graphing tool to contour the equipotentials. The students then only needs to sketch in the flow lines by hand. Since students already know how to use Excel, it takes only 15 minutes to show them how to code it. It's the perfect educational tool.

I also use Excel to do mat analysis on a Winkler foundation using finite differences. But that's for our graduate Foundations course.
8. SEEP/W. It is easy to learn and the limited capability student version is free.
9. I have one suggestion for a very user-friendly flow software, FLOWPATH II, which is not exactly what you are asking for, since it does not plot flownets per se. It does print though very nicely the velocity vectors in the flow domain which give a very good picture of the flow lines - their magnitude can also give an idea about the changes in potential (I cannot remember if it plots "typical" equipotential lines, my guess is yes). I have used it in a first-year graduate class (i.e., not very advanced) in the US with very good results. I used it for problems of constructing different walls (permeable or semi-permeable) for remediation purposes and study the flow through/around them. Some students have also used it to reproduce the classical flownet example of the flow around and beneath a sheetpile. Again, it is a little more than what you are looking for, but if using the computer, why not using it for getting the real thing. I must say that I have not used it for free-surface problems, and off the top of my head I cannot tell how or whether it can handle flow in a cross-section of variable thickness. On the other hand, the price is very reasonable and it can be used both for soils classes and groundwater classes.

I am including at the end of the e-mail the information on where to get it.When you have all the answers, will you send back to all the USUCGER a compilation of the answers?
FLOWPATH ÉÉ is a user-friendly software for simulation of saturated flow as well as for easy cases of contaminant transport. More details are given in

It is developed by Waterloo Hydrogeologic, Inc., 460 Phillip
Street,Suite 101, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 5J2,
Phone: (519) 746-1798 and it costs $595. It can also be purchased by
the Scientific Software Group,
or the Geotechnical and Hydrogeological Software,

10. Of course today they can write their own finite difference solution on a spreadsheet and solve the flownet problem. See Soil Mechanics (Wiley) by Perloff & Baron. Or the new Soil Mechanics & Foundations (Wiley) by Muni Budhu. Other than that, perhaps the free download from GeoDelft called GWdivide:

Or the students can download a free student version of Seep3D from:
11. A five minute effort is attached, using seep/w student edition (free). It goes fast if you are familiar with their slope/w program.
(See attached file: Doc1.doc)
12. Here at QUB we use the SEEPW package from Geoslope Office suite. This is a proper professional package but it is very easy to use and there is a usable demonstration version. Students will need to work through the tutorial exercises to use the package, and
we've successfully used it for an applied geotechnics module. What it won't give you is a "normal" flownet of curvilinear
squares - SEEPW wiill plot equipotentials, and you can put in your own particle tracks / flowlines easily, but their starting point is up to you.

One advantage of the full version of the Geoslope package is that the various members of the suite can be joined - we get our
students to use SLOPEW for a slope stability calculation where they're importing pressures from a SEEPW analysis. I don't know
whether the free student version permits this.
13. Textbook/CD: Muni Budhu "Soil mechanics and Foundations" (Publisher: John Wiley & Sons) has a multimedia/interactive CD that contains an interactive flownet program. An update to that program is on by website at

I forgot to menion in my last e-mail hat in the textbook/CD there is an interactive program that shows students how to draw flow nets and interpret the results apart from the interactive flow net program.
14. If you want to illustrate the concept of flownets with 2 or 3 examples, I suggest you consider the "free" SPIRES software available at:

This includes modules for an embankment, weir and cut-off and is really easy to use. With these three traditional examples, one can
quickly illustrate the influence of geometric changes, multiple soil types and anisotropic conductivies. The only problem is that the
printing option is NOT available. However, you can always capture the screen and copy it to a paint program for printing.

This software was developed as part of the GeotechniCAL project, which was completed in the mid 1990s in the UK. If you want info
about the overall project, with all their wonderful products, please visit:

I am sure you will not be disappointed with the vast amount of information provided. Good luck.
15. Please note the following message from the University of Sydney:

A free student version of program FESEEP is available for download at
In the student version the soil permeability is restricted to kx=ky=1. The program performs a finite element analysis and the flow net can be drawn. It has been successfully used for teaching purposes and there are several example problems included. However, if you decide to use FESEEP I can arrange to send you a set of example problems that you may find useful.
16. Some years ago we wrote (with John Christian) a simple seepage finite element program. Per Bill Kovacs e-mail I'm sending to you some examples. The program is very unfriendly but it plot flownets. I hope that you can use these to your students. Any candidates to make the program user-friendly.

I am also sending to you some info. about the Productivity tools software.

(See attached file: proto_small_flyer.pdf)(See attached file: flownets_case.pdf)
17. You might be interested by the attached Excel file. I use the finite difference method in class (senior year and graduate courses). It gives the students better understanding of the solution method, and of what numerical models are about. It turns out that Excel has a nice "surface " graphing capability to show the equipotentials. From there, it is easy to draw by hand the stream lines (another way to compute directly the stream lines would be to reverse the problem, since the potential and stream functions are conjugates). Note that to run the computation, which requires iteration, Excel has to be set in calculation mode - manual- iteration number at least 300- convergence criterion about 0.001. Then hit the F9 key to compute until the head values in the main table stabilize (this might take up to 10 or 15 hits on F9).
I hope this makes sense.

(See attached file: COFFERDB.xls)

That's all so far. Isao

Isao Ishibashi, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia 23529

Phone: 757-683-4641
Fax: 757-683-5354

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