Piped, Gravity and Spring-fed Supplies

Spring-fed Gravity Flow Scheme

Capturing spring water and transporting it, usually by gravity in pipes, to water users, is a very common form of rural water supply around the world - particularly in hilly and mountaineous regions and islands. The technology is relatively simple and by using the energy of gravity, there is generally no need for pumps or other forms of energy input. The biggest cost tends to be the initial construction of the tanks and pipes, however, over time these will degrade and need repair and eventual replacement.

Despite its widespread use, RWSN does not explicitly include gravity spring-fed schemes in the thematic work - but it is not excluded at all. What we are really missing is a champion - a person or organisation that is really passionate about this form of rural water supply and is would like to develop a strong community of practice to share experiences and ideas. If this is of interest, then please get in touch.

On this website, you will find some great manuals and resources that can help you design, build and maintain a gravity scheme

Spring Catchment Manuals on Drinking Water Supply. Volume 4:

Water safety plan A field guide to improving drinking-water safety in small communities

Water Safety Planning for Small Communities Step-by-step risk management guidance for drinking-water supplies in small communities

Guidelines to Planning Sustainable Water Projects and Selecting Appropriate Technologies Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group

Water Catchment Protection Handbook 1. Learning and Experience Sharing Series

Pump-fed piped supplies

For larger villages and small towns, a mechanised pump is a common option, usually taking from a borehole, a lake or a river. In most cases the water will need to be treated and pumped up to header storage tank to ensure that the pressure head and flow rates through the pipe network are consistant. These schemes are much more expensive and complex than point water sources, but can deliver a high level of service - either through public stand pipes or domestic household connections.

RWSN has looked at some of the management issues around these schemes in the 2013 WSP-RWSN webinar series: "Professionalising Rural and Small Town Water Supply Management."

Other useful resources on this website:


Related Resources

Guidelines to Planning Sustainable Water Projects and Selecting Appropriate Technologies

Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group

The Wasrag Technical Guideline—Guidelines for Planning Sustainable Water Projects and Selecting Appropriate Technologies (and its companion guidelines, Guidelines for Planning Sustainable Sanitation Projects and Selecting Appropriate Technologies, and Guidelines for Selection Sustainable Health and Hygiene Programs) is the first step in this new e-learning program. This document reviews how to— evaluate sources of water supply evaluate water quality evaluate and select appropriate treatment technologies plan and construct a project monitor performance of the constructed project
The document is designed for Rotarians with basic levels of understanding of water issues, yet it will lead the reader to advanced levels of system design and operation.



DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | »

Water for Wajir

Decision modeling for the Habaswein-Wajir Water Supply Project in Northern Kenya

Project Report from the ARIGA UPGro Catalyst Study

The city of Wajir in Northern Kenya, the capital of the county of the same name, has experienced rapid population growth in recent decades. The city has so far never had a reliable supply of clean drinking water or a sanitation system. To improve the situation, plans are currently considered to construct a water pipeline from Habaswein, another locale in Wajir County that is about 110 km away.

Regarding project design, two issues emerged as important. Poor project design was identified as one of the major risks to project success. Furthermore, activities to build consensus around the intervention and ensure that all stakeholders approve of the intervention is critical. Payments for Environmental Services were included in the model, but other benefit-sharing mechanisms, as well as awareness-raising measures, should also be explored. | »

“What is the current wisdom on the best way to manage cash reserves and to manage the risk of big CapManEx costs in the future?”

RWSN Discussion Synthesis

This document is a synthesis of an online discussion that took place in June 2014 on Dgroups (Management & Support Community) and on the "WSP-RWSN Webinar Discussions" LinkedIn group in response to the following question:

“In Tajikistan a multi-village piped water scheme is successfully collecting user fees from households. This has created a new problem: a sizable reserve. This would seem to be in line with the object of the tariff, however for covering the costs of a big item that may need replacing in the next 20 years or so this raises a challenge: there is increasing pressure to use those reserves in a more productive way (and some less productive ways) sooner. There is also the risk that inflation will mean that a good amount of money today will not be worth the same in 10-20 years when it is needed for a big capital expenditure. From WASHcost and other work, what is the current wisdom on the best way to manage reserves and to manage the risk of big CapManEx costs in the future?” | »

Multi-Village Pooling Project in Indonesia

Handbook for Community-Based Water Supply Organizations

The book discusses basic concepts on key topics to managing a small piped water system ideally for up to 1,000 households. It presents tools that can be adapted by Community-Based Water Organizations (CBOs) for use in their operations, such as forms, checklists and procedural guidelines. Illustrative examples have also been compiled from the experiences of the district local governments, support organizations and CBOs operating in East and West Java, who participated in the Multi-Village Pooling (MVP) Project. This toolkit seeks to compile a set of ready resources for organizations supporting Indonesian CBOs and CBOs themselves, which was not previously available despite many years of rural water investment projects. The book introduces fundamental concepts in an easy to-understand way, so that a number of discussions have been simplified. This will give users a basic understanding enough to seek further resources or references or advice from experts, which is encouraged.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | »

Guidebook for the implementation of decentralised water supply systems in Moldova

ApaSan, Swiss Water and Sanitation Project in Moldova

What is the guidebook about?
In 10 years of successful cooperation between Switzerland and Moldova, rural communities in Moldova have been supported with the construction of decentralised water supply systems. These new water supply systems use springs located close to the villages and distribute the water through a pipe network to the households of the community. The systems are managed by community based organisations, the Water
Consumer Associations (WCA). Such decentralised and community managed water supply systems have proven to be very successful in providing sustainable water supply for rural communities. This approach therefore merits wider application throughout rural Moldova. The aim of the guidebook is to make this experience available, with the hope that it is used to implement more systems that provide better and lasting water supply services for the rural population in Moldova.

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-RWSN publication and endorsement by RWSN or any of its member organisations should not be inferred. | »