How a Safe Water Well Works

For this month's CONNECTION:

You’ve likely come across powerful images of children drinking from unsafe water sources, and witnessed the life-changing impact of a new water system, such as a hand pump, in a community. But what exactly does this hand pump mean for these children and their community? Are wells the ultimate solution, and can they be sustained over time? Do they simply get copied from one community to another? Let’s embark on a deeper exploration of how water wells function and their critical role in providing clean water solutions.

While we at Living Water International employ various methods to provide sustainable and safe water, wells remain a popular choice for several reasons. These systems are more easily maintained by the community, they are cost-effective, and there is an abundant supply of clean water found in underground aquifers, naturally purified by sand and porous rocks. Together, let’s delve into the fascinating world of water wells and their vital impact on communities.

Discover the inner workings of a safe water well by hovering over the numbered points below. Explore the nine essential components that come together to provide clean and sustainable water solutions.
Hand Pump
The hand pump is the mechanism on the surface
that allows users to draw water from the well
below. It is operated manually, making it suitable
for remote areas without access to electricity.
Hand pumps are reliable, easy to maintain, and
provide a sustainable water supply for
Sanitary Seal 
The sanitary seal, often made of cement grout, is used to
fill the space between the well casing and the borehole
wall. This seal prevents any potential pathways for
contamination, ensuring that the water source remains
pure and protected.

Solid Well Casing

The solid well casing is a strong, impermeable pipe that
surrounds and protects the inner components of the well.
It prevents surface water and contaminants from seeping
into the well, ensuring the water remains uncontaminated
and safe for consumption.
Rising Main (Drop Pipe) 
The rising main, also known as the drop pipe, is a pipe
that connects the pump cylinder to the handpump on the
surface. When the handpump is operated, the rising main
allows water to be drawn upward from the well, providing
access to the clean water source below.
Formation Stabilizer 
The formation stabilizer is a material that is placed
between the borehole wall and the well casing to keep the
well stable and secure. It prevents the well from collapsing
and protects the aquifer from potential pollution,
maintaining a reliable and safe water source.
Borehole Wall 
The borehole wall refers to the inner surface of the well
created during the drilling process. It is essential for
maintaining the integrity of the well and preventing
potential collapse while drilling. Lining the borehole wall
with protective materials ensures that the water source
remains safe from external contaminants.
Pump Cylinder 
The pump cylinder is a vital component of the handpump
system. When the handle is operated, the pump cylinder
creates suction that draws water from the well up to the
surface for consumption. It is designed to be durable and
reliable, allowing for consistent water extraction.
Gravel Pack 
The gravel pack is a layer of clean and rounded gravel placed
around the well casing. It serves as additional filtration,
preventing fine sand and sediment from entering the well.
The gravel pack supports the casing, stabilizes the well
structure, and promotes efficient water flow.
Slotted Well Casing Screen 
The slotted well casing screen is a specially designed pipe
with small openings that allow water to flow into the well
while preventing debris and larger particles from entering.
It acts as a filter to ensure the water drawn is clean and
free from contaminants.


Woman from South Asia smiling, holding pot with clean water


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