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What Is a Water Borehole?

C. Mitchell
C. Mitchell

A water borehole is a shaft dug deep into the earth that connects with natural aquifers beneath the soil. Some water boreholes are designed to test water quality or to perform scientific and geological studies on soil samples at various points of natural saturation. Most of the time, however, their purpose is simply water access. Borehole water is in many ways like well water, but is usually cleaner and easier to access. The drilling process often includes the addition of pipes and shaft sealants to protect against contamination.

Bore drilling is a common means of tapping into the earth’s innermost resources. Boreholes are common for a variety of purposes, from routine soil sampling to geological surveying and map projects, petroleum scouting, and natural gas extraction. A water borehole is a hole that is drilled in order to access the earth’s inner aquifers.

An auger platform covers a borehole.
An auger platform covers a borehole.

Water boreholes are different from dug wells in a couple of respects. First is the use of a drilling rig. There are several different sorts of drilling rig available depending on the scope of the project, but most are portable, and operate with a combination of motorized engine, winch pull, and cable extraction system. The drill bores into the earth, straight through boulders, clay, and anything else in its path. Regular drilling or hand digging, in contrast, usually requires more care in dealing with obstructions.

Gaining access to drinking water is the main use of a water borehole.
Gaining access to drinking water is the main use of a water borehole.

The drilling rig can usually be programmed to drill a shaft of precise dimensions, as well. So long as a drill operator knows where water will be found, he need only program the rig and wait. This process often takes a bit of planning to be successful.

Many deep aquifers run beneath the earth’s outer crust. In most places, any hole dug deep enough will hit water at some point. Where that water is located can vary tremendously from place to place, however. Drillers often use geological surveys and maps to calculate the precise location of an aquifer at any given site.

The main function of a water borehole is to provide ready access to water. In most cases, the borehole itself, once dug, is relatively narrow, usually only the size of a large pipe. This makes it very easy to immediately install a pipe, or otherwise seal the borehole as soon as drilling is complete. Proper sealing is very important to prevent water contamination.

A water borehole can be used by small communities or, in some cases, by individuals. Individual water access through boreholes is most common in rural areas not serviced by regular water systems. Boreholes are not usually big enough to provide water to entire cities or large municipalities.

Not all boreholes are used to provide drinking water. Some are used to test water quality, particularly in communities with water contamination problems. An environmental site assessment may include a water borehole in order to ascertain the composition of the water feeding plants and nearby vegetation.

A geotechnical investigation, too, might be interested in boring for water to understand the chemical characteristics of various nearby locations. Creating a water borehole is, for the most part, a relatively non-invasive procedure. The rigs are easily transportable, and the actual boreholes can be quite small.

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    • An auger platform covers a borehole.
      By: Leonid Ikan
      An auger platform covers a borehole.
    • Gaining access to drinking water is the main use of a water borehole.
      By: luchshen
      Gaining access to drinking water is the main use of a water borehole.