A simple way to keep spring water clear – part 1 & 2

Hygiene and sanitation

Notes to broadcasters

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By Harvey Harman
Content: Keep insects, animals, and dirt out of your drinking water by building a simple wall around your water source.


People who drink clean water are much healthier than people who drink dirty water. Drinking water that is dirty or that has faeces or manure in it spreads disease.

One of the easiest ways to get clean drinking water is to stop dirt from getting into your water source. For today, let us talk about how to keep dirt out of the spring, the place where water comes out of the ground. Usually, a spring has several small sources close to each other. Build a wall around these sources, being careful not to disturb them. The wall can be made from cement and bricks, cement and stones, or similar materials.

The wall should completely surround the sources of the spring. The wall can be any height, but usually knee-high is high enough. It is a good idea to put a roof or cover on top to keep animals out.

When you are building the wall, put two pipes in the wall on the side where the land is lowest or slopes downward. Put a small pipe, 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch (1/2 cm to 1 1/2 cm) near the bottom of the wall and a larger pipe, 1 inch to 2 inches (2 1/2 cm to 5 cm) near the top of the wall. The water from the spring will flow out the bottom pipe. If there is ever too much water for the small pipe to carry, the water will fill up inside the wall until it eventually flows out the larger overflow pipe. The pipes should be built into the wall on the spring’s downhill side.

After the wall is built around the spring, it is time to add a roof. The roof can be a cement slab reinforced with metal or wire. Or the roof can be a piece of metal roofing. Once the roof is in place, all the gaps between the roof and the wall should be filled in with cement mortar to keep insects, dirt, and animals from getting into the water. Take this roof off only when you want to take a look at the spring.

To get water, put your bucket under the small pipe on the outside of the wall and let the bucket fill up. Or, you could run a pipe or hose from the pipe in the wall downhill to a more convenient place for you.

It does not cost much to protect a spring by building a little wall around it. Once the spring is protected, it will provide good clean water for years and years.



As an additional precaution, you might want to fix a casing pipe around the source of the spring to prevent it from getting clogged with loose soil.


A simple way to keep spring water clean – part 2: Storage tanks


By Harvey Harman

Content: Store clean water in a more convenient location by building a storage tank below your water source. A water storage tank will collect all the water that flows from the source, so that none goes to waste.

In our previous program about keeping spring water clean, we talked about a simple way to protect a spring. We talked about finding the source of the spring, or the place where the water comes out of the ground. We talked about building a small wall of cement and stones or cement and bricks around the source. We talked about putting a small pipe in the downhill side of the wall with a second larger pipe above for times when the spring is very full of water. And we talked about putting a roof on top with all the openings filled with cement to keep out insects, dirt, and animals.

This will keep dirt out of a spring so that you will have clean, disease-free water. Sometimes many people use one spring. Or the spring may run very slowly or be far away from people’s houses. In these cases, people often build a storage tank below the spring to store all the water that comes from the spring, or to store it at a more convenient location.

This storage tank can be built out of rocks and cement mortar or bricks and cement mortar and then coated on the inside and bottom with a thin layer of cement. But the tank can be made from any material that holds water. In some areas of the world, people make metal tanks. In other places, they make tanks of cement reinforced with chicken wire. The tank should have a roof to cover it.

The storage tank needs to be down the hill from the spring so water will flow easily to it by gravity. The spring is connected to the storage tank by piping. Bamboo can be used for this piping. Plastic piping is usually very cheap. Metal piping is stronger. The pipe should be buried between the spring and the storage tank to protect it from getting broken.

A pipe enters the top of the storage tank. A valve at the bottom can be easily opened when you want water to flow out.

By building a storage tank, all the water from the spring, even the water that flows at night, can be stored for later use. If you have more water than you need for drinking and washing, the extra water can be used to irrigate plants and for your animals. Storage tanks can also be used to bring water from a spring closer to your homestead. Storage tanks help you have more clean water whenever you need it.

Information sources

Harvey Harman was a community development worker in South Africa for several years.