Sustainable Living Lesson I: How to Build Your Own Water Well

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metalmongrel's picture
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Joined: Oct 7 2008
Posts: 38
Sustainable Living Lesson I: How to Build Your Own Water Well

Hello All,

    I thought it would be a good idea to begin a series of threads designed to instruct average folks how to implement and use technologies that best aid a sustainable living situation off-the-grid or as an emergency alternative to the grid. 

    I know individual threads about specific gadgets designed for certain functions have been started, but if we keep things better organized, it will be more easily archived and accessed.  I encourage others to create other "Sustainable Living Lesson" Threads that focus on other topics of sustainable living technologies so that we can compile these techniques and knowledge for the greater CM community and beyond.  I'll be the first to admit that I don't really know "how" to live entirely off the grid being a city slicker all my life, but I'm not too proud to learn from the beginning.  So even if you think that your knowledge about a certain sustained living technology might be basic, please post it anyways, because I sure as hell don't, for instance, know how to raise and care for livestock.  But I want to learn.   

   So here is the first lesson:  "How to Build Your Own Water Well."  I think it is fitting that the first lesson have to do with water as it is our most basic survival need. 

   I've found the following site that clearly describes how to install and service a pump water well.  Because there are so many pictures and much text, I don't think I can post its content here; however, I highly recommend reading it for yourself.

 The above site will describe how to make and install a basic water pump for under $400.  Its quality is supposedly equal to that of the army's whenever they needed water quickly in a remote area.  Keep in mind that there might be legal codes or underground infrastructure (pipes, electrical lines, sewage), that will keep you from implementing a pump like this, so do your own due diligence before you start driving anything into the ground.  Being out in the sticks is obviously an advantage here.  I'd still filter the water after pumping if you were me, especially if you're in a city or somewhere else where the groundwater might be contaminated.  At the very least though, here is the know-how to make one. 

 Btw, I think the foot valve design shown is genius in its simplicity and reliability.  

 I'm eager to hear any other technologies people have found that they'd be willing to share with us in the following areas:




Lighting (bogo lights, etc)

Simple Solar Power conversions and products.

Water Purification (when boiling isn't an option).

Anything else that one would think make life easier.


I'll contribute to more of these threads as I come along things that might be useful to our community.  Thank you for your help and participation. 


Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2606
Re: Sustainable Living Lesson I: How to Build Your Own ...

Great start metal -

Couple of more topics that come to mind:

Frontier or Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness Nutrition/Edible Plants

Veterinary/Animal Husbandry (unless this is a subtopic of Livestock)

Basic WIlderness Survival Skills


I'm staying plugged into this thread.



Walden3's picture
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Joined: Feb 9 2009
Posts: 21
Re: Sustainable Living Lesson I: How to Build Your Own ...

Maybe we should include some social technology topics too (unless you are planning to live on your own that is)

 - group decision making

 - mental health



Ruhh's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 259
Re: Sustainable Living Lesson I: How to Build Your Own ...

Excellent! I was about to start some research on wells and cisterns.

What I'm also currently looking into and would suggest...

  • greywater systems
  • composting toilets / humanure (with and without water and electricity)

If I feel quite confident after my research on these subjects I'll be happy to post. However I'm sure there are plenty of more qualified and experienced folks lurking around here we'd love to hear from.

metalmongrel's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 7 2008
Posts: 38
Re: Sustainable Living Lesson I: How to Build Your Own ...

Thanks for the responses, I've added a second lesson (on agriculture) in the forums if you want to check it out.  I think the items you guys mentioned in the above posts would be very useful topics as well, so feel free to post away if you find any info.  Thanks!


Tall's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2010
Posts: 564
$400 well may not be of sufficient quality for drinking water

Drinking water wells have sealed sanitary well caps that keep pollutants out of the water. Agricultural or emergency wells (such as the one described) are potentially higher risk depending upon your soil permeability, nearby sources of contamination and the quality of the ground water.

May I recommend: for some light reading? You can ignore the certification stuff, but it is a decent discussion of some of the issues associated with well water.

BTW- filtration may not remove pathogens, disinfection via chlorine, UV or boiling is best.

Disinfection does nothing for contaminants like pesticides, arsenic, petroleum, nitrate, etc.

The bottom line is - know what is in your water before you rely upon it for drinking.

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