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

Proceedings of the 7th RWSN Forum

29 Nov - 2 Dec 2016, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

The 2016 Rural Water Supply Network Forum in Abidjan was the first global gathering to consider the practical challenge of how everyone worldwide can get access to safe, affordable water by 2030. It was also the first RWSN Forum to take place in a francophone country, in the 25 years since the creation of the network.
The Forum gathered 467 rural water sector practitioners from over 300 organisations from 64 countries in Africa, Asia, Americas, and Europe, in a bilingual (English/French) four day event. It was opened by the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, Mr Daniel Kaplan Duncan. We were joined by HE State Minster James Dengchol Tot, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia, as well as a delegation from AMCOW.

This Forum proceedings compiles all peer-reviewed materials. Separate downloads and links to the films can be found at: https://rwsn7.net/content/ | »

SDC Guideline for sustainable groundwater resource management

Swiss Humanitarian Aid Reports and Papers (SHARP Series: GW/2016/1)

The main objective of the present guideline is to ensure the protection of groundwater intended for human consumption. Consequently, it is mainly focused on the protection of groundwater sources (e.g. pumping well, tapped springs). However, although the protection of sensitive areas for drinking water supply must be given high priority, good practices have to be implemented at a larger scale too, in order to sustain the resources as well as the aquatic ecosystems: awareness must be built in order to avoid any contamination of the water cycle (quality aspect) and to preserve water resources (quantity aspect), in particular within the aquifer areas | »

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?” | »