How do Water Wells Work

Updated: Oct 24


Most people who live in municipalities have the luxury of turning on their tap and having access to clean filtered water at any time. However, there are many people who may live in areas that do not have a pipeline and a network of pipes and filtrations systems connected to their homes.


An excellent solution is digging water wells. The purpose of a water well is to provide clean, sustainable drinking water to communities. A water well can be built quickly and efficiently with access to the proper materials and tools.

A photo of hands cupping fresh water poured into them,
A photo of hands cupping fresh water poured into them,

Water wells are essentially holes dug deep into the ground below the water table. The water table is a level underground where groundwater saturates the spaces between sediment, soil and rock. The water here is clean pure drinking water that has been filtered by the earth.


If someone were to begin digging into the ground, they would eventually hit the water table anywhere on earth. The water table is closer to the surface in some areas more than in others. For instance, in a small town in Russia, the water table is just a few meters down, whereas in mountainous regions in Asia the water table is hundreds of feet down.


When a water well is built, there must be a minimal amount of construction done to ensure that the earth doesn’t fall into the well closing the opening. The structure is usually held in place with a solid less erodible surface than dirt, like brick or cement.

Photo of a section of a brick water well that is above ground.
Photo of a section of a brick water well that is above ground.

For electric wells, an electrical system, pipes, and containers must be installed to lift the water out of the well. A manual pump is also an option. Finally, you can use a rope pulley system with a bucket as the simplest means to pull water out of the well.  

Photo of a pump water well with a basin to catch the water coming out.
Photo of a pump water well with a basin to catch the water coming out.

Water wells are vital, in particular for those living in developing countries. In most areas outside of cities and even in some cities there is no central water system putting the responsibility of finding clean water on individuals.


When an individual can't access clean water they find other unsavory alternatives like still water, rivers, and ponds which are often contaminated with parasites and diseases. This means they cannot drink or use water without getting sick or dying.

Photo of a water well in the countryside with a hay roof.
Photo of a water well in the countryside with a hay roof.

Since 2011, LIFE has installed hundreds of water wells all over the world which has contributed to enhancing the lives of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Gaza, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Somalia. This is only possible with the help of our generous donors.

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