I am a UK-based hydrogeologist with over 30 years experience as a groundwater consultant in groundwater resources research, development and management projects in Africa, the Middle East and Europe for World Bank (IBRD), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UK Department for International Development (DfID), European Environment Agency (EEA), UK Environment Agency (EA) and international consulting firms.

I have sited, designed, supervised and tested numerous boreholes ranging from shallow monitoring wells for environmental impact schemes to boreholes nearly 1000m deep in major confined sandstone aquifers and from village water supplies to major wellfields for urban and industrial supplies.

At present I am an independent Associate with the UK Water Resources Associates ( and also an international member of the National Groundwater Association of America (

Modern water well design has developed from a combination of field experience, modelling studies and laboratory investigations by the water and oil industries. The design of a water well can be relatively straightforward but a more rigorous approach is needed for complex aquifer conditions, certain types of wells and to minimise well construction and operating costs. Rising energy costs have led to a greater emphasis on the economics of groundwater abstraction whilst the design of groundwater abstraction schemes to meet the continuing increase in water demands must consider resources sustainability, environmental concerns and social issues.

The design of a well (or wellfield) can be approached in different ways depending on the well purpose, type of aquifer, etc. and must take account of any national and local standards. Hence, a program that simply prepares a well design at the press of a few buttons is more likely to limit the designer to a set design procedure that may not be appropriate to the site conditions. Instead, I opted for a simpler, worksheet-based approach for the Well Design Toolkit to allow the designer to select those calculations appropriate to the aquifer conditions and more easily incorporate relevant standards. The input data and results can also be stored or included in a report to provide an 'audit trail' behind the selected design.

Users and Further Information on Well Design
Aimed at the water professional, the Well Design Guide and Well Design Toolkit can be used to assist the design of a new well or to check the design of an existing well (e.g. in litigation cases involving well problems). Users include water agencies, consultancy firms, drilling companies, material suppliers, NGOs, training courses and well owners. Some background knowledge of hydrogeology is required as the Well Design Guide does not cover well location, drilling, logging or testing as these are all major subjects in their own right.

There are some excellent publications covering different aspects of well design such as 'Groundwater and Wells' (Driscoll, 2008) or by the National Groundwater Association of America (NGWA,1999). Unfortunately, most websites describing the design of a well tend to be rather general and do not cover all of the research undertaken on well design - particularly on hydraulic design criteria, which can be important if you happen to be in charge of designing an expensive municipal supply well! The Well Design Guide brings together much of the relevant research on well design and provides a useful source of information for training courses.

Future Plans
Future plans include additional calculators for the Well Design Toolkit to extend its capabilities (e.g. horizontal well design) and tutorials with practical examples of how to design wells for different aquifer conditions.

To benefit the wider groundwater community I hope to add an on-line forum for members to find advice and news on water well design problems.


Connecting PVC casing

You can find out more about well design through the Links page or from the Well Design Guide, which includes an extensive reference list.