Digging A Well By Hand

Digging a well by hand

I saw some of the round cement well sections in the field, near the house.  Someone is digging a well. It is coming up on the end of the dry season so the water table is as low as it will ever be.  The water table is really dried up because this is such a dry hot year. Most of our wells in the area are empty. This is bad for us when it is time to bathe, but good for digging the well.

cement rings for digging the well cement rings for digging the well

They dug this so fast I was lucky to get any pics or video.  One of my wife’s uncles is the area well expert (not the uncle we live with). Each cement section is almost 2 feet deep, and the wells around us are 7-9 rings deep.  So this guy is down in this 15 foot hole, alone, with nothing supporting the hole.  Not approved  work behavior in the US – welcome to the Philippines!

   digging the well by handdigging the well by hand

Bamboo Rigging & Ropes

They dig the hole and then lower the rings in one at a time, using a bamboo rig and some ropes.  Each ring is cemented in place. Inside and out.  Amazingly, after they finished, the owner of the land decided the well was not deep enough.  So they emptied the water out (with buckets) and dug a few more feet, below the shaft.  Water seeping in the entire time.  After clearing out the dirt, they pushed down on the top of the shaft to force the whole thing down – then added rings on top!  I was not around for this part.  I really should pay them to let me know when cool stuff like that is going on.

    bamboo and ropes for digging the wellbamboo and ropes for digging the well

The hole is only wide enough for the rings, so it gets pretty tight, down around 10 or 15 feet. It amazes me to see how they do so much work, with so few tools.  But they get it done.  These are some of the hardest working guys I have ever seen – and I use to dig ditches for air conditioning work.  We never worked this freaking hard!  After the cement is well set, the backfill around the shaft. Usually there are 2 or 3 rings above ground.


Final Thoughts

They hire a guy with a divining rod (the stick) to find the spot to dig.  He was right, there is water, but no guarantee of the quality. Unfortunately, once the well was finished, the water was reddish.  They emptied the well and cleaned the cement tube 2 or 3 times.  The water never cleared up.  We know the water around here is potable, but it does need to be clear so it can be used for laundry and showers.  No one drinks it, but this is not good enough for even laundry. Maybe in the rainy season it will get better?  That is the hope, but probably not.



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