The Water Table Myth and Tornado Protection →

Chuck Doswell:

In several different contexts of late, the continuing myth of the local water table being too high (or too variable) for certain types of construction, my colleague Dr. Matt Biddle has brought to my attention that this is essentially balderdash! His father was in the concrete business, and Matt’s opinion certainly seems well-founded. Concrete can be poured and will set up just fine completely underwater! The home construction industry has been selling the idea that a high water table somehow precludes having basements across a great deal of the southern US. It seems that the reality is that no such problem exists! In the past, homes used to be constructed with basements here (in OK, and elsewhere in the south) all the time. But it’s cheaper and faster to build homes on a slab than it is to dig out the homesite and prepare a foundation before commencing home construction. This added cost would have to be passed on to customers. But if people can’t afford that cost, then perhaps building on a concrete slab is a viable economic alternative.

I had heard and believed this myth about basements in Oklahoma my entire life. If I ever have a house built here, it will have a basement for sure (partly because I just want one).