Let’s Dig a Well

Today was fun, we helped drill a well in the front yard of the church. Really. We did.

There is an organization called water4.org They are developing low cost, hand powered drilling methods to use in the developing world. The goal is to find ways to help provide clean water to the billion or so people who do not have access to clean water.

They came to do a demo of a new technique they are working on, so we all spent the day outside drilling. There were three basic techniques they are working on:

First is a basic auger. You just turn it around for a while and pull it out to get all the dirt out:

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The second one is a bit more complicated. It uses this bit:

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The brass valve on the left is one way. The basic idea is that you put water down the hole you are drilling and pound with the bit into the ground. The valve makes it so every time you pound the bottom of the hole water/dirt/sand/rock slurry is pushed up the pipe and is ejected from the top. The whole thing gets really heavy the deeper you go (you have to keep adding pipe), so you make is so a team can lift the whole thing out of the ground:

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Last technique. This one basically uses a pile driver on the end of a rope. The driver is made of two cylinders, one inside the other that slide.  Here it is:

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You attach one of several scary looking bits to the end…

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…and drop the whole thing in the hole, and use the rope to pull the top half up a few feet, and drop it on the bottom half which drives the bit into the ground.

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Every now and then you pull the whole thing up and the bit pulls out all of the dirt it has cut through.

They are also developing a pump to put into the well once it is done:

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It is made almost entirely out of PVC, so it is inexpensive, durable, and made form readily available materials. It reminds me a lot of a pump that Cliff from the Institute for Biblical Community Development at JBU demoed during a Perspectives class I was in.

It was a good day…we got to meet several people doing really cool ministry around the world, see some new technology that is going to make a real impact in bringing fresh water to people, and hear how God is being glorified through all of this.

One of the great things about being in this CQMissional program is that we are going to get to experience a lot of stuff and get to reflect on it. So, how about some reflection…

The big cool thing to see in all of this is how God brought the right people together to form 4water.org. It’s a cool story about people realizing what God has for them and stepping out in faith to see what God will do.

Another thing I was thinking about all day was that it is interesting to think about how one technology fits into the overall picture of poverty reduction and wealth creation in the developing world. It’s one thing for a group of people to go to a village with this stuff, dig a well, and leave. It’s a whole new thing if you take this technology and invest in people who can turn it into a local business. Suddenly you are doing economic development, creating experts, solving problems…the effects can go beyond water. Something I am learning about myself is that I think that stuff like a new drill is cool, but I get excited about seeing how it fits into  the whole picture…how it can be one piece of a big puzzle.

Last thing is my little marketing mindset always kicks in…it would be interesting if somebody started building a big community of people doing water projects, sort of like www.akvo.org but bigger. They could get churches, schools, camps and other groups all over the world to drill wells in their yards as tests. It would be a cool way to raise awareness and test lots of technologies, everybody could give feedback, collaborate,  and post improvements…open source for the water set, like Make or Open Source Beer. Just some thoughts. (all of water4.orgs stuff is open source and public domain…they want people to use it)

Ok, long post, time for bed.

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