How Well Systems Have Given Us Safe Drinking Water For Centuries

While technological advancements improve on established ways of doing things, there are some systems in common use today that have remained relatively similar to those used centuries ago. One of these is the way underground wells are used to provide water to homes.

In rural areas all over the world, people whose homes don’t have access to municipally supplied water use their own wells and pump systems to provide the water they use every day. Well water is used in modern rural homes for everything from drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, to washing machines and sprinkler systems. While these wells are built with modern components by skilled professionals, they are, in many ways, very similar to well systems used throughout civilized history.

If you get the water you and your family use from a well, you may be interested to learn more about them. Here, we take a look at how they work, and the similarities and differences between modern wells and those used hundreds of years ago.

The Surprising Depths We Can Plumb To With Modern Wells

All wells tap into water sources beneath the ground, but with help from machinery, we can access water that would have gone untapped using traditional well digging methods. When building a modern well for a new home, the contractor will typically use an industrial rotary drill, mounted on a truck. These can reach water as deep as 1,000 feet under the surface of the ground – far deeper than people were able to get to when digging wells manually in the past.

Pumping It Up

Once you’ve reached the water, you need a way to get it up to the surface so you can use it. This has always been done with pumps, however these days, these pumps are typically highly efficient, powerful electric driven devices. Well pumps are submerged into the water, and suspended at a point where they aren’t pulling up the water at the very bottom which is where any sediment or other contaminants will be found.

Managing Pressure and Demand

Water needs to be pressurised to make its way through a modern plumbing system and to your tap or showerhead. The minimum pressure needed for most homes is reported to be about 30 psi. Water is pressurised after it is pumped to the surface in a pressure tank. When the tank is sufficiently full, the electric pump on a modern well system will stop running, saving energy. When the water in the tank drops below a given level, the pump will automatically start up again and refill it, meaning that when everything is running smoothly, your home will always have water ready to flow when you turn on your taps.

It is interesting to see how the humble well system has been adapted over time to meet the needs of modern housing and provide better efficiency. However if you take away the electrical elements and the sophisticated pressure management system, if your home draws water from a well, you are essentially using the same means to get it as your ancestors would have done!

Attached Images:

This article was written by Ted Williams; he is an instrumentation engineer with Rhodes Pump Service. When he is not busy working on CT well water drilling projects, he likes to indulge in baseball with his friends.

You can leave comments by clicking here, leave a trackback at or subscribe to the RSS Comments Feed for this post.