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


From implementor to facilitator – Transition management of the Department of Rural Water Supply in Lesotho case studies of rural water supplies

Management of the transition phase of the Department of Rural Water Supply, away from an implementing towards a facilitating role. Organisational development, capacity building and launching of a sector wide approach (SWAp).

The case study on hand describes how the transition process was planned and implemented. It focuses on the phase of transition since 1993, even though many of the stakeholders have been involved for many decades. It describes the objectives and goals of the strategy, and takes a look at future developments. | »

Compendium of Water Supply Technologies in Emergencies

The Compendium of Water Supply Technologies in Emergencies offers a comprehensive and structured planning guide on new and existing technologies for water supply operations in humanitarian settings.
The target audience includes humanitarian staff, local first responders, engineers, planners, government representatives, capacity building agencies and other WASH professionals involved in humanitarian response. Although humanitarian WASH interventions primarily focus on immediate life-saving measures and protecting public health, the humanitarian community has been increasingly confronted with longer-term protracted crises that stretch beyond an emergency response. | »

Epanet and Development How to calculate water networks by computer

This manual aims at walking the reader through the design of a water supply network in a Development context by explaining in a simple manner how to build and analyze a computer model of a water network with Epanet.

Epanet is a free and widely used software from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency that models the hydraulic and water quality behavior of water distribution piping systems | »

Swajal - A Community Led Approach to Rural Piped Drinking Water Supply Guidelines

The Guidelines on Swajal provide details of the scheme, implementation arrangements, financing provisions and roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders involved in its implementation.

Also below are related Government of India guidelines on rural water programme design,

They are shared here as an examples of national government guidance | »

SWIFT water ATMs: experience and impact in Turkana and Wajir counties of Kenya SWIFT Consortium learning brief

Working in governance and resilience-oriented WASH programming in Kenya, Oxfam has supported communities in Turkana and Wajir counties to pilot the use of pre-paid water metering systems, also called water ATMs. These ATMs improve service and accountability using technology, revolutionising the system and providing substantial benefits to both water service providers and community water users. | »

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