Subsurface Sources of Water | Water Supply Engineering

Subsurface sources of water are underground water sources that are used as a water supply system. These are mostly used for water supply by employing certain construction technologies to extract water from their main source i.e. groundwater. 

All subsurface sources of water must be utilized so that they are not depleted or polluted. The major subsurface sources of water are generally found on earth in the following forms:

  1. Springs
  2. Infiltration galleries
  3. Infiltration wells
  4. Wells

Subsurface Sources of Water | Water Supply Engineering

Most of the groundwater is extracted from wells and it forms one of the major underground sources of water. The first three sources are minor forms of underground sources of water.

All four underground sources of water are explained in this article.

1. Springs

Spring is a natural outflow of groundwater which is appeared at the ground surface in the form of a current or steam of flowing water. It is mainly seen in hilly areas.

Springs-Subsurface Sources of Water

As shown in the figure, it's a hilly mountainous region with a higher level of water table. If we dig at a particular point at this level, water splits out and is called springs. 
Springs can be classified into gravity and non-gravity springs. Springs can be considered as a source of water supply to meet the demand for small towns near hills or bases. Hot springs cannot be used to supply water for domestic purposes. 

    1.1. Gravity springs
    • Depression springs
    • Contact or surface springs
    • Artesian springs
    1.2. Non-Gravity Springs

2. Infiltration Galleries

An infiltration gallery is a horizontal or nearly horizontal tunnel with permeable boundaries that are constructed near highly permeable aquifers to permit groundwater to infiltrate into the same. 

Infiltration chambers - LID SWM Planning and Design Guide (

These structures are rectangular in cross-section and are called horizontal wells. Continue reading on infiltration galleries here>>

3. Infiltration Wells

Infiltration wells are shallow discontinuous wells that are constructed along the banks of the river in water-bearing strata, and water is tapped for water supply. Hence, the main purpose of an infiltration well is to infiltrate water in-ground and conserve the unconfined aquifer. 

Infiltration Wells
Infiltration Wells

Infiltration wells are also called interception wells, as they are sunken wells that are constructed to intercept a large quantity of water source, with the objective to tap water from them. Continue reading on infiltration wells here>>

4. Wells

A well is a deep hole or shaft dug into the ground to access natural water resources. The hole is drilled until it penetrates an aquifer so that the water from the aquifer is discharged out. The aquifer employed for wells can be an unconfined or confined aquifer.

what are wells?

There are different types of wells based on the well construction methodologies employed. All well construction requires a better understanding of groundwater and well hydraulics.


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