How to Build a Spring Water System

Updated February 21, 2017

A spring water system can be installed anywhere water seeps to the surface, naturally. To build your spring-box system you can dig a hole where the water emerges from. Some people choose to place a layer of gravel in the bottom for a filtered-earth holding tank. Most people prefer to make water storage boxes for easy delivery systems using pipes, cement/rock dams with spring-boxes hooked by pipe to holding tanks. It's better if your water source is higher than your delivery location. In this case, pumps and electricity are unnecessary for lowest cost water delivery. A minimum flow of one litre per minute is needed for a tap-able water source.

To prevent any contamination of your spring, make a trench. Dig this across the slope above the spring box so no surface water enters the system. Pit latrines, dumps, defecating animals and other sources of contamination should not be located up hill above the source of the spring.

Many springs are found on slopes. If your spring has a healthy flow, you will need to build a spring box. Dig a hole just below the mouth of the spring. Be sure it is open at the bottom (or back, if on a steep hill). Make this spring box a square, around one yard by one yard by one yard. If you want gravel in the bottom of the spring box to help with filtration, add it now.

The walls of the box should be no larger than necessary. Cover them with a removable top to permit cleaning inside. Position a large pipe to drain off the water during construction of the box. Remove or seal this outlet when the project is finished. A smaller pipe is needed to handle any overflow coming out of the spring.

You can use any water holding tank if it inserts easily into the spring hole. Remembe,r if it is filling from a run, a tank is fine, but if you are allowing the water to rise into the tank from below, do not have a bottom on the tank. Cement poured into wall forms, rock mortared spring boxes and plastic tanks, are all common approaches that work.


It is wise to have your water tested. Spring water is very clean, yet sometimes contaminated soil can leak into your water.

Things You'll Need

  • Gravel
  • Shovel or backhoe
  • Pipe
  • Cement
  • Holding tank
  • Cover
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About the Author

Johanna Parry Cougar began writing for local newspapers in 1975. She became a columnist, poet, grant writer and nonprofit director. She is published in newspapers and bioregional journals such as "Access" and "Raising Power." She holds certifications in art from the Art Institute of Seattle, and has taught sustainability, earth sculpting and green home construction in five nations.