The Basics of Public Utilities for Country Homes

Learn how to keep your country home connected to a source of water, sewage disposal, electricity and transportation.

| March/April 1970

Water Faucet

Living in the country may pose a few additional obstacles, such as connecting the home to water, electricity and public roads.


Living out in the country certainly presents unique challenges to anyone used to city life. One of the early — albeit manageable — tasks a new homesteader must figure out is how exactly to get access to public utilities such as water, sanitation, electricity and roads. Here are a few things to consider and some advice to go along with it all.

The Solution to Public Water: Drill for a Well

A spring is simply an opening where water flows out of the ground. It may be located at the bottom of a pond or lake. If you have a good spring near your house you may be saved the expense of digging a well — and if the spring is located on a high enough of a level you may be able to use a gravity system instead of a pump.

A ram is really a sort of pump but it requires no electricity or gasoline and has no moving parts and is completely automatic. The water virtually pumps itself. There must be at least a 20 inch fall of water between the source and the ram. Under these conditions the ram will pump water to a much higher level, as high as 20 feet.

A dug well is the kind that is actually dug with hand digging tools. This is the old fashioned type of well you see on many farms today. Wells are not dug by hand so often nowadays as they used to be because it is frequently easier to get a well driven or drilled. Another reason is that the dug well is more easily contaminated by seepage through the walls or from above. On the other hand, this type of well if properly constructed can be kept entirely pure and provide plentiful quantities of water for generations. If your thinking of digging a well yourself, you'll want to learn more about this kind of well.

A driven well is made by driving into the ground a simple pipe fitted with a well point. It may be either a deep or shallow well. depending on how deep you go to get a satisfactory flow of water. If your soil is suitable for this type of well it is something worth investigating for it usually costs less than drilling a well or digging one. It is not generally considered as reliable as an artesian well (which produces a steady flow of water), but in some sections it is quite satisfactory. You need a good sized storage tank and you should know what to do if the well points become clogged.

A drilled well is made by drilling a hole into the ground 4 to 8 inches in diameter with special well-drilling equipment. The upper part of this well is lined with a steel casing which protects it from contamination. If you think you will have to go down deep to get water, you should learn more about drilled wells. Also you will need to investigate deep and shallow well pumps. The cost of a shallow well pump is much less and can be used with a good artesian well when you don't have to pump water up from more than 22 feet.

dairy goat


Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.