Protected Springs


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Spring protection is an alternative technology for drinking water augmentation


Technical Description

There are three elements which comprise a spring catchment installation namely, a) the "effective" catchment, consisting of a perforated pipe within a trench or dry walled channel (stone package), b) a supply pipe leading to an inspection chamber, and c) an inspection chamber, which consists of an entry basin for receiving the spring water and an operation chamber which helps to control water quantity and quality. Sometimes it can also serve as a sedimentation basin, and, in such cases, may be called silt trap.

The operation and maintenance of spring protection structures is simple. They require few skills to construct and manage, making them suitable for management by user communities. Where steep drops are encountered good structural designs are required to cater to the increased pressures built up in the supply pipes.

Maintenance activities may include protection of the catchment area from potential contamination, periodic maintenance of the filter package, and cleaning the spring area of leaves and other terrestrial debris.


Spring protection is an inexpensive in comparison to the development of a conventional point source. The cost of the protection structure, itself, is largely a material cost (cement, pipes). However added costs may be incurred in the form of costs associated with the delivery mechanisms, which are dependant upon the length of piping, the number of storage reservoirs, and/or the number of pressure break tanks needed


Relatively good quality water, and generally very low operation and maintenance costs, coupled with the ease of community management, make them quite effective for supplying rural communities with water for domestic purposes. This technology is suitable in locations where springs occur and no unresolved pollution problems prevail. The operation and maintenance of spring protection structures is simple. They may be managed as point sources for communities or distributed to individual households by connection to a distribution system. Advantages are several-fold: groundwater is a relatively safe water source for use without treatment, springs are the most inexpensive source of groundwater, and spring protection structures can be constructed using local skills and materials.


Service level is dependent on groundwater yields, which seldom can be improved. Further, there is difficulty in ensuring the hygiene of the springs, especially during the rainy season when it is not always possible to protect the spring from surface water intrusion. The location of springs is not always near the point of consumption and, in many cases, access is difficult. Springs may also run dry during times of drought


See also

External Resources

UNEP's comprehensive Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation and UNICEF's Handbook on Water offer an in-depth assessment of small scale technologies for water supply, augmentation, waste water treatment for all regions.

Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation

Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation in Africa


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