Dr. SaMeH S. Ahmed

Associate Prof. of Environmental Engineering

Dug wells

Dug wells


Until recent centuries, all artificial wells were pumpless hand-dug wells of varying degrees of formality, and they remain a very important source of potable water in some rural developing areas where they are routinely dug and used today. Their indispensability has produced a number of literary references, literal and figurative, to them, including the Christian Bible story of Jesus meeting a woman at Jacob's well (John 4:6) and the "Ding Dong Bellnursery rhyme about a cat in a well.

Hand-dug wells are excavations with diameters large enough to accommodate one or more men with shovels digging down to below thewater table. They can be lined with laid stones or brick; extending this lining upwards above the ground surface to form a wall around the well serves to reduce both contamination and injuries by falling into the well. A more modern method called caissoning uses reinforced concrete or plain concrete pre-cast well rings that are lowered into the hole. A well-digging team digs under a cutting ring and the well column slowly sinks into the aquifer, whilst protecting the team from collapse of the well bore.

Hand dug wells provide a cheap and low-tech solution to accessing groundwater in rural locations in developing countries, and may be built with a high degree of community participation, or by local entrepreneurs who specialize in hand-dug wells. Hand dug wells have been successfully excavated to 60 metres (200 ft). Hand dug wells are inexpensive and low tech (compared to drilling) as they use mostly hand labour for construction. Hand dug wells have low operational and maintenance costs, in part because water can be extracted by hand bailing, without a pump. Hand dug wells can be easily deepened, which may be necessary if the ground water level drops, by telescoping the lining further down into the aquifer. The yield of existing hand dug wells may be improved by deepening or introducing vertical tunnels or perforated pipes.

Drawbacks to hand-dug wells are numerous. It can be impractical to hand dig wells in areas where hard rock is present, and they can be time-consuming to dig and line even in favourable areas. Because they exploit shallow aquifers, the well may be susceptible to yield fluctuations and possible contamination from surface water, including sewage. Hand dug well construction generally requires the use of a well trained construction team, and the capital investment for equipment such as concrete ring moulds, heavy lifting equipment, well shaft formwork, motorized de-watering pumps, and fuel can be large for people in developing countries. Construction of hand dug wells can be dangerous due to collapse of the well bore, falling objects and asphyxiation, including from dewatering pump exhaust fumes.

Woodingdean well, hand-dug between 1858 and 1862, is claimed to be the world's deepest hand-dug well at 1,285 feet (392 m).[2] TheBig Well in Greensburg, Kansas is billed as the world's largest hand-dug well, at 109 feet (33 m) deep and 32 feet (9.8 m) in diameter. However, the Well of Joseph in the Cairo Citadel at 280 feet (85 m) deep and the Pozzo di S. Patrizio (St. Patrick's Well) built in 1527 inOrvieto, Italy, at 61 metres (200 ft) deep by 13 metres (43 ft) wide[3] are both larger by volume.

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