Digging A Water Well? Some Things To Consider

Drinkable water may be the single most important item to consider when planning for a survival situation. While people can generally last for three weeks without food, people can last maybe a week without water, depending on the conditions (source here). The reason for this is that the human body uses water for so many different things including moving waste out of the body, lubricating joints, and regulating body temperature.

So, it makes sense that one of the first things to plan when setting up your bug out location is your water source. Presumably, you’ll be setting up this location outside of an urban area and that you won’t be planning on having access to outside utilities (it’s a good idea to assume the worst by assuming that municipal utilities like water won’t be available). This means digging a well, if the property doesn’t already have a well.

If you don’t currently have a well, there are a few things to keep in mind about a well. First of all, a well may not be a permanent solution to your water issue as wells can run dry. If the well is drilled deep and you reside in an area with lots of rain, this isn’t common. However, this can still happen, so it’s a good idea to have either a backup water source or water stored safely so that you can obtain another water source should your well run dry.

Another item to consider is the possibility of contaminants. Keep in mind that, with a municipal water source, that utility has a responsibility to make sure that the water is safe to drink. Also, consider that it’s not uncommon for groundwater to be contaminated by pesticide use in the area or other contaminants. Kathy Bernier writes,

Residue from a myriad of sources, from commercial crops to livestock to landfills to your own landscaping practices, can seep into groundwater. In addition to external contaminants, geology can play a large role in water quality. Toxins such as arsenic and radon are common in my region, and homeowners need to be diligent in determining levels of dangerous elements in their well water.

What this means for you is that you need to be diligent in testing your water source for impurities and setting up water purification systems so that you can ensure that you are only drinking safe water. You don’t want to survive in the short term only to succumb to being poisoned by toxins in your water supply.

Keep in mind, that, the level of the water table where you live and the type of soil in your area can affect the difficulty of digging your well (and, thus, the expense of having it done), so look into it now before it’s an emergency. Dig your well before you are thirsty, if you will.

Also, with that in mind, since you will be digging your well while governmental authority is still in place (we’re assuming a lack of any practical governing authority in a disaster situation), you will want to make sure that you are meeting any code or other requirements in your area while setting up your well now. Better to deal with that inconvenience than to not have the well dug (or have it filled in) because it didn’t meet code.

All-in-all, digging a well isn’t the most convenient thing to do, but, in a disaster situation, you may find that all of the inconvenience now will be worth it because you are one of the few with a supply of drinkable water then.


  • Gary S

    Are you “digging” a well or are you pounding a pipe into the ground? Digging involves a shovel and a 4′-5′ hole down to the water. Then a casing to line it with. i can’t see “digging” down 50′ to water.