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Experiences With International Well Drilling

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Engineering Without Borders Programs Involving Students

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.618.1 - 11.618.11



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Paper Authors


Carmine Polito Valparaiso University

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Frederick F. Jenny, Jr. Professor of Emerging Technology, Valparaiso University

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Braden Katterheinrich Valparaiso University

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President Elect, Engineers Without Borders Valparaiso University Chapter

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Experiences with International Well Drilling

Braden Katterheinrich and Carmine Polito Student President, Engineers Without Borders-Valparaiso University Chapter/ Department of Civil Engineering, Valparaiso University


The authors have had experience in recent years in drilling water wells in a remote village in northern Kenya using a simple drilling system. This work was done as part of an on-going project of the Engineers Without Borders chapter at Valparaiso University. While their experiences have been limited to Sub-Saharan Africa, the problems that they encountered and the solutions they developed are typical of this sort of endeavor regardless of location.

This paper will first briefly outline the need for drilling wells in developing nations and then discuss the basics of well drilling. Next the work performed during the authors’ project is outlined. A list of recommendations for similar endeavors will be presented. Finally, the educational impact experienced by students involved with the Engineers Without Borders – Valparaiso University project will be discussed.

The Need For Wells

The need for safe drinking water is an international dilemma that has been recognized by the United Nations. In its September 12th, 2003 press release, the United Nations declared the decade of 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action – Water for Life1: “Access to safe drinking water is an indispensable component of primary health care and a precondition for success in the fight against poverty, hunger, and child deaths. It is also a basic human right. The human right to water is necessary for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite to the realization of all other human rights.”

There are approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide without access to safe drinking water. According to the United Nations Statistics Division, only 45 percent of the population in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa has sustainable access to improved water sources. This is the second lowest percentage of any population, only surpassed by the Oceania region. Other concerns relating to the United Nations’ Decade for Action include: integrated water resources, access to basic sanitation and hygiene, and wastewater collection and treatment. In many regions the effort towards better living conditions includes most of the topics above. However, in the region where the author’s experiences are based, the focus is providing basic access to sufficient clean water to ensure the survival of the local population.

In order to provide acceptable drinking water, especially in dry environments, it is necessary to tap into underground aquifers, which contain groundwater. This access to

Polito, C., & Katterheinrich, B. (2006, June), Experiences With International Well Drilling Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--619

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