A borehole that lasts for a lifetime

Groundwater is a valuable resource for communities, but accessing and maximising its potential can be difficult. Vincent Casey, WaterAid’s Technical Support Manager for Water Security, introduces a series of videos demonstrating good practice in borehole drilling.

Groundwater is a valuable resource for communities, but accessing and maximising its potential can be difficult. Vincent Casey, WaterAid’s Technical Support Manager for Water Security, introduces a series of videos demonstrating good practice in borehole drilling.

Good practice must be followed if groundwater development programmes are to reach their full potential. If certain steps are not taken, there is a high chance that boreholes will fail, investment will be wasted and people will remain un-served.

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What is the big deal about manual drilling anyway?

Let me tell you a not-very-well-kept secret. My PhD research some 15 years ago was on manual drilling. That was what took me to Uganda in the first place and taught me how to link social science, business development and technology. For those of you who don’t know what it is, manual drilling refers to several drilling methods that rely on human energy to construct a borehole and complete a water supply. These methods can be used in areas where formations are quite soft and groundwater is relatively shallow. And by the way, the “Pounder rig” as we called it worked, but it never took off in Uganda (the details are in my thesis).
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Addressing failure in rural water supply in Africa – how we can all do better (Video)

In his key note speech, Professor Richard Carter urged the delegation at the 41st IAH Congress to do more to explain why groundwater matters and why hydrogeological science is important.

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Boreholes and trees – why drilling supervision matters

by Professor Richard Carter, Chair of RWSN [1]

About 1 billion people in rural areas rely on boreholes (mostly fitted with handpumps) for their water supply. Another 300 million in small towns and cities get their domestic water from boreholes.[2]

Image
(c) RWSN/Skat

What is a borehole?

Someone [3] once defined a tree as “a big plant with a stick up the middle”. Using this analogy, a borehole is “a long thin hole in the ground which produces water”. But of course just as trees are a bit more complicated than the definition would suggest, and just as trees come in all shapes and sizes, so too boreholes are more than ‘long thin holes …’. No two boreholes are quite the same.

If I wish to plant a tree and get fruit or timber from it sometime in the future, then I need to choose the right species, plant it in the right place, and nurture it until it becomes established. So too if I want to construct a borehole which will deliver clean water over both the short-term and the long-term, I need to choose its location with care, design it properly and ensure that it is drilled and finished straight and true.

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