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September 18, 2004 - Editor.  Pattaya, Thailand home construction, home building.  Water systems.  Getting water to your new house.  What are water options in Thailand; city water, a communal well, a surface well or a deep water well.  Pros and cons of different kinds of water delivery systems.  Various options explored, the use or water towers and filtration systems.  Pictures of digging a well.

Considering building a house or having trouble with your water supply?  These days water is of primary concern no matter where you are.  Not to worry, there are a number of options as follows:

  • If you are in the city area you can hook up to city water. This is the easiest and cheapest (at least to set up).

  • Some housing developments outside of the city area will have communal wells which serve the entire development. Water charges are up to the administrator of the well and can be very expensive.

  • A regular ‘dug’ well. These wells are hand dug and are normally 7 or more meters deep, depending on the underlying water level.

  • A deep water well. A truck will come out and ‘drill’ a 4 inch hole for pipe placement. The well is much deeper than a standard well, normally 30 or more meters.

City Water

City water is the way to go if you are in a covered area.  The cost is 3.5 Baht per unit per month.  A unit is one cubic meter.  Cheap and relatively high quality.  If you are building with the city, you will first need to apply.  Hookup cost will vary depending on the convenience of the water main.  Service and quality can vary by area.  In some areas of Chonburi I've heard that there are long periodic water outages with city water. 

Communal Wells

This can be like being caught between a rock and a hard spot.  My brief experience with communal wells has not been pleasant.  When renting a regular house in a fairly nice area I found the water service to be terrible.  The ‘administrator’ of water in a small area with about 50 houses claimed the water was not sufficient and would turn off the water periodically, with no notice, for periods of up to 1 week.  There is no regulation, so everyone complains but nothing happens.  His reason for shutting down the well is vague (pipe broken somewhere in the system) and there is no time table given for repair.  Then it has gotten even worse with the water going offline virtually all the time except for 1 hour a day in the morning.  (Thank goodness it is was a regular schedule, it gave everyone time to fill up the water buckets!)  The charges were expensive also, in this case they were about 15 Baht per cubic meter per month.  I’ve heard of other developments with charges up to 45 Baht per cubic meter per month.  An average bill still isn’t that expensive, but be sure to check it out first before buying a property with a communal well.  Talk to people in the area and find out about service outages, water pressure problems and any other service issues.  If worse comes to worse, is there an area for you to dig your own well?

water towerThis is an example of a communal well.  Everyone in the immediate area is serviced by this well and water tower.  As of the time of this picture, there was basically no water service 23 hours a day each and every day.  Most everyone was trying to sell their house or townhouse in the area, makes you wonder if it is possible to sell a house with no water? (19-Apr-04)



Regular Surface Dug Well

The basic materials for a hand dug well is a prefabricated concrete circular drainage ring drainage ringlike the one shown at the left.  The drainage assembly comes in 3 basic diameters, 1 meter, 1.2 meter and 1.5 meters.  Each piece has a depth of about 30 cm., so there are about 3 per meter.  The smaller diameter is normally sufficient for a single house.  (19-Apr-04)


The ‘normal’ labor cost to dig a well at the time of this writing (for the 1 or 1.2 meter size ring) is 400 Baht per drainage ring, labor only.  The 1.2 meter size material cost is 140 Baht per piece delivered.  In addition to this there may be a minimal ‘pump rental’ charge of 200 Baht/day to pump out the water, once water is hit.  The cost therefore is easy to figure, a typical 7 meter deep well will have the following rough cost:


Well Depth (M)



















Pump rental










The well digger starts by recommending a point on the land which have good prospects for having low depth water levels.  Then he digs a hole freehand in the ground slightly larger than the diameter of the concrete well fitting.  The hole is dug straight down until water is reached.  At this point some concrete well fittings will be inserted to add some weight and structure to the well.  The mud will continue to be dug out until a pump is needed.  The well is continued to a agreed upon point where the depth is sufficient to supply water all year around, normally a couple of meters deeper than when water is first encountered. 

The season for well digging is relatively short.  The best time to dig a well is in the dry season when the water table is at its lowest point.  Well digging is a specialty due to the high danger involved.  Regular day workers cannot do it.  The well diggers that are good are pretty much booked up with continual work during the dry season.  A day labor rate is not common.  A rate including materials (ie. concrete rings) could be arranged, but it is not the common way of doing it and would be more expensive anyway.

hand dug wellThe hand dug well is a pretty amazing feat.  A hole is dug to a slightly larger diameter than the circular drainage fitting to be used.  The hole will be no more than about couple of centimeters wider than the rings.  (24-May-04)
dirt pulleyA wheel is used to help bring the dirt to the surface.  (19-Jul-04)
descend with ropeOnce the wells starts getting deep the digger will descent using a rope.  (09-Apr-04)
pumpingWhen water is reached a pump is utilized so that digging can continue down another 1 or 2 meters until the water is sufficient to use all year around.  (29-May-04)4)
inserting drainage fittingsSometimes once water is hit some circular drainage fittings will be inserted prior to pumping out water, as in this picture.  Although it doesn't look like it in this picture, the well digger is about 7 meters below ground level here!  (09-Apr-04)
automatic pumpAn automatic pump of the type used for hand dug wells, this is a Fujika GF-225 automatic home pump.  Good quality pumps run 5000 Baht or more.  (19-Apr-04)

surface well problems

One common problem with surface wells is dirty water.  Once the rings are inserted there is a gap between the rings and the side of the hole.  Once the rings are placed all the way to the surface, this gap needs to be filled with small stones.  In the well for the cool thai house prototype, this was not done.  The well digger said he had done it, but in fact he had placed broken up blocks on the side of the well.  This causes a 'pocket' to develop outside the well that fills with water and creates pressure on the outside of the well structure.  This in turn can cause fractures in the well rings and then the water can flow in from the outside.  When it flows in, instead of seeping in, it brings in a lot of dirt and sediment.  The end result will be water so muddy that even a filtration system will not make it clear.  Be sure to check when your well digger is finishing off the well, as this is a critical step.

seepage stonesThe side of the well needs to be filled in with small stones, to prevent air and water pockets forming outside the well.  (12-Jul-04)
broken block instead of stoneQuite amazingly, originally, the well digger had put in big chunks of broken up blocks instead of rocks, thus saving about 20 minutes of labor time.  Later we dug these blocks out from the side of the well.
water pocketsThe improper final set caused water pockets around the side of the well, which eventually burst the side causing water to rapidly flow in, bring in dirt.  To correct this we pumped out the water and patched the large gaping hole.
stonesStones like this need to be placed around the well.
well now preppedHere the well is now prepared for a cement base.
corrected wellHere is the corrected well finished off with a cement base. (19-Aug-04)
water not clearIf you have a problem like this, the water in the storage tank will not be clear, even if it is filtered.  Here is a shot of cloudy water in the tank before fixing the well.  (06-Jul-04)
clear waterHere is a shot in the tank after the problem was fixed.  Notice how clear the water is now.  (19-Aug-04)
well must be at least one meter from houseOne other thing to note.  A well should not be dug within a meter of the house.  This shot shows a well within about 40 centimeters from a house and also you can see the gaping holes around the well due to settling.  The settling around the well can further cause a lot of problems for the house structure, for example wall and flooring cracks.  (28-Jul-04)

Deep Water Well

The are many government regulations now regarding deep water dug wells.  I’ve heard that it is no longer allowed in some areas, but at the same time I regularly see new ones going in – in these exact same areas.  As they say, that’s Thailand for you.

The prices for deep water wells, along with the associated terms, vary widely.  Here are some example terms.  The driller will come in and supply all the materials, including the deep water pump.  They will guarantee, for a period of one year, water flow at a specified rate, say 1500 liters an hour.  If they don’t find sufficient water flow then you don’t pay.  The cost will be about 80,000 Baht.  The wells are normally in excess of 50 meters deep.  Up country the costs are considerably lower – maybe ˝ as much (or less).

This is the 'premium' way to go.  There is a guaranteed water flow and the water will be free of surface pollutants and or mud seepage.  It is several times as expensive as a hand dug well but the quality is better.  As far as the supposed restrictions on putting in new deep water wells, my thinking is this -- if you can get someone to come out and do it for you, you probably won't have any problems after that.  The new restrictions as of this writing are 'on the books' but are not heavily enforced.

rig drilling deep water wellA rig at work drilling a deep water well.  (03-Apr-04)
finishing off deep water wellA finished off deep water well.  (15-Apr-04)

Well Options

There are many configurations of equipment you can use to retrieve, store and deliver the well water to your house.  At a minimum you will need a pump suitable for the type and depth of well you have.  An automatic pump for a hand dug well will cost about 5000 + Baht, for a good one. 

In my opinion a water tank is also a good idea.  First off, it allows the water to be pumped up and stored for periods of heavy water usage (like when the grandkids come to visit!).  Secondly it give sediment in the water a chance to settle out.  You can either get a pre-fabricated stainless steel tank or have a tank constructed from you.  The hand constructed tanks are formed either from concrete well fittings or can be built from cement blocks.  The pre-fabricated tanks can be purchased in many sizes, with a 1500 liter size costing about 8000 Baht to 10,000 Baht (depending on the brand and quality of the tank).

If your water tank is mounted in a high enough configuration the pressure will be sufficient to drive the water into your house.  If however the water pressure is not sufficient you may need to add an additional automatic pump.  Often the water tank is mounted in a tower, which will give the necessary height to ensure sufficient water pressure in the house.  One of the real nice advantages of a tower is this: even if the power goes out (and the pump is not operable) you will still have water.

Also, if necessary, various configurations of filtration systems can be added.  Normally there are three filtration canisters used in combination, each one with a specific range of impurities to filter out. 

water tank and tower

homemade water tanksThis is a pair of homemade water tanks.  These are made from circular drainage fittings and cement.  (17-Apr-04)
water tanks two years oldHere is a similar version about 2 years old.  They tend to age rather quickly due to water seepage and generally look kind of ugly.  (21-Apr-04)
stainless steel tanksI like stainless steel tanks which come in various sizes and shapes.  For a single family house I would recommend storage size of 1000 or more liters.  The cheaper plastic type (which you can see in the lower right of this picture) are not recommended.  They supposedly are harder to clean and have problems with algae growth.  I recently priced an 1600 liter stainless steel tank for 8500 Baht including delivery. (21-Apr-04)
large towerThis is a large tower which services several small apartments and is more than what would be needed for a residential house, but it gives you an idea.  The base of this one is 2.70 meters square.  The height is about 5 meters and water capacity of about 2000 liters. (27-Apr-04)
water tower on bathroomHere is another idea for a water tower  This one is built on a bathroom, but you could also do a storage room underneath.  The tower sets on top at a height of about 5 meters.  The tank has about a 2000 liter capacity. (11-May-04)
water tank with no towerHere is a water tank with no tower, which is how I did it in the cool thai house.  The downside to not having a tower is that an extra pump is needed to drive water into the house.  (02-Jul-04)

water valve

I had to look around a while to find the electric valve as shown below.  Using this valve I can define the fill point in the tank.  In the cool thai house example, the tank drops to 50% before the pump is activated.  This has two benefits... it is more efficient use of the pump and it allows the water to sit and any impurities to filter down before being pumped to the house.

electric water valveThe electric water valve is controlled by 2 floats which control the 'shut' and 'open' valve positions.  (19-Aug-04)
valve mounted on topThe valve is mounted on top of the water tank.  The electric is shielded in yellow conduit.  (06-Jul-04)
conventional floater valveA conventional floater water valve.  Using this type of valve (much like a toilet valve), the pump will open almost after each use.  (19-Aug-04)


Filtration systems allow the raw well water to be filtered before use.  Although not absolutely necessary, they do improve the cleanliness of the water.  The cost is around 20,000 Baht for a system such as the one shown below.  This system has three filtration units, each using a different mineral for filtration.  The minerals used are carbon, magnesium and an ionizer.  One thing I don't like about these particular filter tanks is that it is not easy to change the cleaning agent, which needs to be done yearly.  To change it the top or bottom of the unit needs to be unscrewed and then the tank can be moved off its base and the material flushed out.  Since I purchased this set at Homepro, I've seen other models where the cleaning agent can be flushed out of a valve.   

filtration systemThis filtration system has three units which are made of stainless steel.  Each unit runs the raw water through a different filtration agent; carbon, magnesium and an ionizer.  (09-Jul-04)
lockable metal enclosureThe units in this example are housed on a cement slab and enclosed in am lockable metal enclosure.  (19-Aug-04)
raw magnesiumA close up of some of the raw magnesium used as a filtration unit.  The tanks are basically filled with granules and the water is forced through the granules.  (19-Aug-04)





City Water

Cheap relatively good quality.

Limited service area.

Communal Water

Cheap hookup.

Expensive water.  Administrator can shut off your water with no notice for extended periods.

Surface Dug Well

Cheap to set up.

More chances of a dry well.  Limited water.  Advisable to use tank to store extra water.

Deep Water Well

Guaranteed water flow.  Good quality water.


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