Answer: There are two basic spring types. A hillside spring is a spring that emerges from the ground on a slope, and water flows by gravity downhill. These springs are developed by digging into the hillside to expose the spring, and installing a collection pipe and a water barrier that diverts water into the pipe. The pipe then will usually lead to a cistern for water collection and sedimentation. From the cistern, the water can be piped by gravity or pump to its final destination, whether it is a livestock water trough, pond, or other use.
A low area spring is another common type. These springs are found in depressions and valleys where the water table is exposed. The main difference between a low area spring and a hillside spring is in the method of catchment and the method of delivery. For a low area spring, a cistern with screen-covered water inlets is set into a hole dug into the spring. A pump can be placed into the cistern to deliver water to its final destination.
Some diagrams depicting the two above-mentioned spring development methods are available in the Alberta Agriculture publication Spring Development, Agdex 716 (A15). In addition, the USDA has a technical publication online entitled Engineering Field Handbook, Chapter 12, Springs and Wells that goes into vast detail on developing streams and wells, and includes engineering information. It can be accessed as a pdf file.
Spring Development Resources
Alberta Agriculture. 2002. Spring Development, Agdex 716 (A15). Technical Services Division.
USDA. 1984. National Engineering Handbook - Part 650, Engineering Field Handbook, Chapter 12, Springs and Wells.
USDA. No date. Spring Development: Small Scale Solutions for your Farm in Indiana. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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