How Does Water Well Drilling Process Work

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Professional working on water well - water well drilling processPublished on February 13, 2020

Around eight thousand years ago, people dug wells with their bare hands to gain access to drinking water. The need for clean and drinkable water has remained as acute as it was centuries ago. But, the methods for obtaining water from the earth has changed over time.

Even nowadays, despite so many technological advancements, manual digging for freshwater is still prevalent in some of the remote areas of the world. This is because this method is cheap as well as extremely practical.

However, for people who are seeking to incorporate technology into their drilling process to expand their productivity, mechanical drilling is an option that is deemed much more efficient. It is also more fast and accurate.

Mechanical water drilling would require specialized equipment for the purpose. It is also important that the geology of the terrain is kept in mind while choosing the appropriate drilling method. Cost is also a very important factor when choosing to start the drilling process. If mechanical drilling will become too costly, it could be abandoned in favor of manual drilling. But, if several wells need to be drilled simultaneously, mechanical methods will become automatically more cost-effective.

Time is also a very important factor that comes into play here. If you need to drill the well within a short period, then obviously you cannot choose manual drilling procedures since it will take much more time.

In the article below, we will discuss how water well drilling process works for both manual and mechanical drilling

  1. Manual Drilling

What comes to your mind when someone mentions manual drilling? Most probably it is the image of a lone person toiling inside a deep muddy pit. He is down to his pants and sending bucket fills with earth from inside the hole.

In a way, you are right. Digging with one’s hands has been the very first and most effective way of obtaining groundwater. But it is a very time consuming laborious work that is almost equally dirty.

Hand drilling requires a few manual tools that are easily available effectively handled by individuals. Of course, you must put a lot of hard work in the drilling process yet the simplicity of the manual operations has rendered it a favored technique even now.

Small and remote communities have been using manual digging techniques for a long period. This technique becomes more useful in areas where bringing heavy equipment is a problem. Moreover, the fuel consumption of this equipment may also pose a problem for impoverished communities who would prefer to dig their wells with their own hands rather than making use of effective but expensive technology.

Advantages of Manual Drilling

  • The first great advantage of manual drilling is that it does not require the use of specialized heavy equipment.
  • Secondly, this kind of drilling can allow you to reach a depth of more than seventy meters. But this depth will almost always depend on the terrain, geology, and the kind of earth you are digging in.
  • Another advantage of manual Water well drilling process is that it can be easily carried out in a very short time if you have a large number of people working in the project simultaneously.

Disadvantages of Manual Drilling

There are a few disadvantages of manual drilling as well:

  • First of all, there is always an enhanced risk of contamination. Moreover, if the crew encounters hard rock formation during the process, it could entirely stop the process.
  • Another point to be noted here is that most of the methods involved in manual drilling would need a higher water table.
  1. Mechanical Drilling

Contrary to the manual drilling procedures, mechanical drilling would require motors and fuel to power earth and rock displacement.

The process is much faster and can allow you to go much deeper. There is several very easy-to-use equipment that allows swift operations and rapid results. However, mechanical drilling may not be very cost-effective when you are drilling a single well. But, if you are seeking to dig multiple wells, mechanical methods can provide you with very cheap and effective solutions.

Mechanical drilling is further subdivided into several different categories. The geology and terrain of the target areas require to be taken into account before choosing the right drilling method.

  1. Jetting

This method involves pumping water with full force through a pipe. The outlet for the same water is a narrow nozzle. This results in a water jet.

The water takes up the cutting towards the outer surface. These cuttings are deposited into a pit that has been dug for the same purpose.

The motor pump will take the water back through the same pipe into the borehole. The hole kept straight with the help of a drill pipe.

It is very easy to dig down to around 200 feet if the soil character is favorable.

  1. Mud Rotary

The basic idea behind this kind of drilling is the same as jetting. The only addition is a huge bit to cut through the soil. Other additions include a motor, a mast, and a steel pipe.

The motor works as a lifter of the pipe while the mast would support it. The rest of the procedure is the same as jetting. This procedure also uses a special kind of clay in the water jet. This brings improvement in the cutting process.

A mud rotary can successfully dig down to more than three thousand feet with a twenty centimeters hole.

  1. Cable Tool

It will suffice to say that this is the mechanized form of the manual drilling procedure. The process includes raising and dropping a drill bit with the help of a cable. The bit is very heavy and the process is reportedly carried out in the borehole.

A bailer will collect and get rid of cuttings which are being suspended inside the hole with water.

Drilling equipment comprises of a winch and a set of the pulley on top of a tripod. Also, large motors are used for raising and lowering the mast.

This method can drill down several hundred feet in any kind of geological terrain.


Water well drilling process is constantly evolving because of the growing needs of water all over the world, and the benefits that can be reaped from these drilling methods.

As discussed above the choice of the best drilling methods depends on many factors. The most popular method being mechanical drilling. Once you have decided which type of drilling is suitable for water well drilling then you can start the drilling process by seeking out professional help.


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