Without water we cannot survive, we cannot grow. 

Water is essential and can be a serious concern for many landowners now facing the trials and tribulations (as well as the cost) of sourcing a water supply. Thankfully there are solutions and depending on where you live in the world, may not be as costly as you think.


  • Rivers, streams, ponds and lakes
  • Mains water supply
  • Water catchment
  • Deep well boreholes
  • Shallow boreholes
  • Wells

In many countries, a lot of effort goes into finding water. Wells can be dug but often involve intensive labour in harsh conditions with basic tools.

Borehole drilling permaculture off grid


Often a borehole is drilled once a water source has been identified, this can be done using dowsing rods or electronic sonar equipment. Boreholes can be costly, as there is no guarantee water will be found when drilling and often the cost is high because the charges are per meter drilled.

However, there are manual options or self-made drilling rigs that can be made to create a borehole. A borehole is perfectly legal in the UK without a license as long as you do not extract more than 20,000 litres per day. enough to fill 500 bathtubs!

The cost to drill a borehole in the UK is around £6,000 – £15,000 on average. This includes the cost of a land surveyor and soil sampling to ensure the soil is not contaminated. It also includes research to ensure that the land was not used by any commercial operation that may have contaminated the land.

Once the borehole is drilled, usually to around 60 – 90 meters at a cost of approx. £100 per meter, it is lined with pipe and a pump fitted at ground level. The pump can run off solar power, a generator, or the mains electricity.

Alternatives to reduce costs include carrying out your own research and soil sampling and manual or electric hand drilling.

In countries such as Australia, folks living in rural areas depend on boreholes for their water. Often, a drilling machine is despatched as a one-man band and the drilling commences after some site evaluation is carried out along with dowsing the land to find the water.

In many cases, they have a high success rate of drilling for water on the first attempt. This is due to experience and traditional methods of identifying the water course underground using the dowsing rods.

Manual Borehole Drilling

It is possible, with some sweat and muscle, to drill your own shallow borehole well. You will need a borehole drilling kit and ideally, some friends as the progress can be tough, especially if you hit a layer of hard rock or stone, or even clay!

When hand drilling a borehole, you will need to be certain that when using the dowsing rods, you get a positive reaction before drilling as not to waste valuable energy. 

One particular borehole we drilled took around 6 hours through two layers of very stubborn clay. Eventually, we struck water just 4m below the surface (approx. 12′). Whilst the water was tested and safe, even for drinking, it would not provide a sufficient amount for off-grid self-sufficiency.

This is because the water we hit was just a watercourse and not the aquifer. That said, it would still provide a steady supply of water where there was none at all. It is estimated 50 – 150ltrs could be extracted per day. When put into perspective and using a cheap hand drill pump set up like this one, we could fill an IBC in under 10 days.

Water Testing

We are able to offer a service that tests water for contamination and bacteria from boreholes