Digging out a spring

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Digging out a spring

Postby larryfoster » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:08 am

I'm just about moved to my parents' home.
Water has always been a little bit of an issue and an extra dry summer here has me a little concerned. And the well has always been rusty.
I remembered a spot up in the woods that was always wet and it still is eveb as dry as it's been.
Just looked and it's pretty muddy in that one spot.
I'm guessing I have a spring there.
Does anyone have any knowledge about digging out a spring?
Is there anything to know other than to dig?
Thanks for your help, as always.
Larry Foster

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Re: Digging out a spring

Postby pete1941 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:29 am

Larry, I have seen a lot of dug out springs down in my area. I suppose you want to use the water for the home, right? The ones that I have seen are dug to 8 to 10 feet deep and the walls were blocked up with cement blocks. I guess with the poured wall foundations now a days, this would be an option if the cement truck could get to the site. After the walls are set, then a top was put on the block wall and the pump, electrical, and line hook up is done. If the folks did not intend to use the spring water for home use, they just dug it out, bowl shaped at the bottom, and then put in the pump and piped it to the livestock or whatever they used it for. I know you know this, but if I were going to use it for home use, then I would want to do a water test to determine exactly what I had. Pete

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Re: Digging out a spring

Postby Eugene » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:47 am

Can't add much to what Pete stated.

Dug out springs in Iowa for cattle usage. When digging we were looking for blue clay. The blue clay was the source of the water.

"Dug" out a spring this early summer in Missouri. Water was coming from just above the base of a limestone cliff. Used a skidsteer to remove rock debris from base of cliff and to dig pit (500 to 1000 gallon) directly below the spring.

Foxfire books. (Foxfire 1, Foxfire 2, etc.) Anchor Books, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, NY. ISBN 0-385-14308-7 = is one of the ISBNs of the series. You might want to get the whole series from the library. Several of the books in the series have descriptions of digging out springs, springhouses, plumbing from springs, etc. before electricity.

Foxfire 4, ISBN 0-385-12087-7 has a discussion on water systems from springs.
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Re: Digging out a spring

Postby Rudi » Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:04 am


My father-in-law has a few springs on his and neighbouring property out back. These springs provide some of the cleanest and tastiest water around. Crystal clear.

To make it easy to collect water, they took the Massey with the loader and prepared the well for the spring as best they could. (The well for the spring is not directly in front of the spring,... not wanting to contaminate, the well is off to the side and downstream about 40 feet or so.) Then they dug the rest by hand. The well is about 6 feet deep and lined with really clean sand. They added a wooden framed cribbing/casing to the well and then backfilled carelully. A work station/top was added with a hinged access trap door. A clean bucket is used to gather the water and fill 18 litre bottles. The bottles sit atop the work station and the overflow is caught and returned to the spring downstream of the well by hose. The well is filled with water from the spring via a 2" plastic pipe (complete with screens that are similar to inverted cones... that has been laid in the spring and covered with a tight landscape fabric . After the fabric has been laid, over the next year or so the pipe has become mostly buried. There is an overflow in the well casing.. a 2" plastic pipe which leads to the spring.

This works well and it is essentially passive and does not impact the water quality. We have the water checked usually every spring after the freshette.

The other spring has a 10 foot section of 36" corrugated galvanized steel as it's well casing. It has been in place for decades, has a top and gets tested regularly when in use. The water is clean, tasty and safe. There seems to be no leachate from the casing that we can see. Overflow via a plastic 2" pipe about a foot from the top of the casing.
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Re: Digging out a spring

Postby Bill Hudson » Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:51 am


Here are a couple of sources of information for spring development:

Good luck with your spring.

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Re: Digging out a spring

Postby larryfoster » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:08 pm

Thanks for all the great info.
The house I just moved from has a spring dug into the side of the hill.
The water gravity flowed into a 1000 gal tank and we pumped through the house with a shallow well pump.
My first step is to "develop" the spring
I'm a little surprised that I have a spring where I do (if I do) because we're on top of the mountain and the location is pretty flat. Not typical but I guess springs could be anywhere.

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Re: Digging out a spring

Postby Virginia Mike » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:19 pm

The home I grew up in was supplied by two spings that ran the water to the house by gravity. It was great to have water without electricty.
The house down the road sold a couple of years ago. it was supplied by a spring. The buyers could not get a bank loan unless they drilled a well. Even though the spring was pure, the bank would not make the loan.
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