Building an Arch Over a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman Hand Dug Water Well Arch Top Construction

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How to construct the arch for a hand dug water well:

This article gives advice for arch top type & other Hand Dug Water Wells and the sanitation and maintenance concerns with hand dug water wells.

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How to Build a Masonry Arch Over the Dug Well

Building an Arch Over a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman Alvin Starkman M.A., LL.B., Casa Machaya, Oaxaca Bed and Breakfast.

This article describes the process of digging a well to provide usable water and the steps taken to make the well safe and sanitary. We include both technical advice and a description of the practical problems that one must encounter and overcome in providing usable water in an area where public water supply is absent or limited.

[Click to enlarge any image]

The article author, Alan Starkman is a retired Toronto attorney who operates the Casa Machaya bed and breakfast in Oaxaca Mexico. Mr. Starkman has written more than 90 articles about life and cultural traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico, and writes here about well digging from a lay person's perspective.

Take a look at the sagging, temporary lift used by the workers to remove stone and soil as the well was being dug (below left) and you will appreciate why expert well builders like to finish the job with a more functional arch over the Dug well opening

. Our masons built a temporary support scaffold over the well opening, then constructed a plywood arch against which a brick arch would be constructed.

Building an Arch Over a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman Building an Arch Over a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman

Our photos below show the brick arch being completed over the Dug well. Once bricklayer has completed the arch (a couple of days), then he will wait a week or so take off his mold for the arc. Next we will clean it as best we can, and then proceed. The masonry arc, being secure, will permit me to lower myself into the Dug (really "chiseled") well for an inspection. It will be the first time for me descending 12 meters into the ground

Watch out: never enter a confined space such as a dug well without proper safety precautions, including:

Building an Arch Over a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman Building an Arch Over a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman

Dug Well Safety: Providing a Ground-Level Wall & Well Cover

The brick wall we show constructed around our dug well (photo below left) serves two purposes.

  1. Prevent surface run-off from entering the well, improving its sanitation. This function is particularly important in this example because the well is located on a steep hillside that transports a high volume of runoff during the rainy season.
  2. Prevent a child or animal from falling into the well. This safety function would be incomplete without also installing a secure cover on the well (photo, below right).
  3. Also see Hand Dug Well Safety for more information
Brick safety wall surrounds dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman Safety cover on a dug well (C) D Friedman A Starkman

Hand Dug Well Construction Procedure

The links below provide the details of how to dig and construct a hand dug water well.


Continue reading at DUG WELL POTABILITY TEST or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see HAND DUG WELL PROCEDURE article start

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