Recharge well primer

Recharge Wells

Building water resilience and sustainable water management.

Biome Environmental Trust, Bengaluru.

This document has been made to be used as a community resource and is meant to evolve with the contributions and experiences of everyone. Please write to us with your contributions.

Please feel free to use, share and disseminate this document. We would appreciate being informed about how it has been used.

Please write to us at or find us on Facebook here.

This document is published under a CC BYNCSA 2.5 IN license.

Why we should dig recharge wells

  • Surface water run-off typically seeps into the ground through natural cracks in the earth then into the aquifer.
  • This natural percolation takes time, and only a small percentage of the surface water actually reaches the aquifer. (Surface water also contributes more to soil moisture than groundwater does, and some is lost to evapotranspiration).
  • As long as the natural environment and habitat is preserved, this slow process is fine, but our urban spaces today are very built up, there’s runoff (and more flooding), and fewer spaces for the water to percolate through into the ground.
  • Recharge wells help channel this run-off more effectively and more quickly into the aquifer.
  • In the long run these wells could help us tide over the increasingly frequent drought periods
  • In certain areas we have observed that water returns to the well over time

Why we should all dig recharge wells

  • Also, it’s the law! If you live in Bengaluru within BBMP’s jurisdiction or have a BWSSB connection, you need to provide for a recharge well:
  • If your property has a built up area exceeding 100m²/1100 ft² on sital area of 200m²/2150 ft² (BBMP) or a built up area of 1200 ft² and above on sital area of 2400 ft² and above (BWSSB) you need a recharge well of a minimum of 1m diametre and 6m depth (3 ft dia and 18 ft depth)

BBMP Bye Laws 2003 (Bye-law 32) and BWSSB Amendment Act (2009)

Will my recharge well directly benefit me?

Mr R.Balasubramaniyan lives in Vidyaranyapura. His 40’ deep well, dug in 1995, ran dry 2001. Unlike his neighbours, he didn’t fill his well up. One day, with a little help Bala sir spent around 5000 rupees and installed rainwater harvesting in his house. This recharge measure has brought back water to his open well and now he uses it exclusively without recourse to the city water network. Click on the image to watch the video.

click here: h?v=C4lwizUlZc

How do I dig a recharge well?

  • You’ll need a plumber and a well-digger
  • For residences, a 3’ x 20’ well would suffice for a 30’-40’ plot; 4’ by 30’ well for a 60’-40’ plot
  • For a layout, plan for one 5’x30’ well for each acre of layout or 2-3 3’x20’ wells per acre.
  • For homes, the overflow from the sump, or the stormwater drain, or the downpipes are connected to the well
  • For community wells, the runoff from common areas which flows in stormwater drains is channelled into the well

Where should you locate your recharge well?

  • For residences, place the recharge well as close to the borewell as you can and as far away from soak pits, toilets, or building foundations and basement
  • For community wells, as close to storm water drains and borewells.
  • Line your well with jelly stones to make it more sturdy
  • Get help from an expert, particularly for siting and waterproofing

Digging an open well step by step

Here you can see how the rings of this well are reinforced with jelly

The overflow from the sump, or the stormwater drain, or the downpipes are connected to the well. Wells are also fitted with electric motors. They are covered with a safety grill, or an RCC slab with a manhole or peephole. This helps sunlight enter the open well, creates an access point for maintenance. It also helps us look inside the well and monitor water levels.

Here’s what one community recharge well looks like.

How much does it cost?

Recommended well size Cost Range (for well including slab) Cost per ring (inc. digging, sumping, making rings, transport, installation)
3ft x 20ft Between25000 – 35000 rupees 1250-1750 rupees (approx. 20 rings)
4ft x 25ft Between 45000 – 60000 rupees 1800-2400 rupees (approx. 25 rings)
5ft x 30ft Between 88000 – 106000 rupees 2500 – 3300 rupees (approx. 30 rings)
Other costs to think about    
Safety grill for 2’x2’ grill manhole (openable) at 5’ depth from top level For home and community recharge wells Depending on the size of the well, between 4000-11000 rupees
Slab – 2’x2’ GI manhole cover and civil work Depending on size of well, between 2000-4000 rupees
Motor/Pulley 3000-10000 rupees
Plumbing costs for connections 80-120 rupees for every running foot of 4” dia pipe and

4kg/cm2 pressure (with all fittings)

Drain / Civil Work For community recharge wells 3000-10000 rupees depending on the nature of the drain, filters, traps.
Indrain filters
Silt traps

These are indicative costs, based on conversations with well diggers across the city. Actual costs may vary.

Some points to remember when digging an open well

The recharge well should be as far away from any soak or toilet pit and any building foundation and basement

Place the recharge well as close to any borewell

The soil should be excavated to a size about 4” larger than diameter of the well and reinforced concrete rings are laid into the hole.

The space between the rings and the soil should be packed with jelly or rocks measuring about 40 mm.

Connect your overflow from the sump, or storm water drain or downpipes to the well.

Don’t forget to place a concrete slab over the well, with an opening to look inside.

Slab design options

  • Here are some slab design options:
  • Keep safety paramount. None should fall into the well, so design appropriately.
  • Cover the well with a solid RCC slab or a metal grill.
  • You need to be able to look into the well to see how the water comes in, percolates out during or after a rainfall. You could keep a small 1” diameter peep hole or 1’x1’ chamber cover on top of the well.
  • You may also want to keep a 2’ x 2’ manhole for maintenance and desilting.

Once you’ve dug your well

  • You can self certify your well by submitting a letter with proof to your local BWSSB office
  • Inform your BSWSSB officer when they come to check your water metre.
  • Slowly over time your well may retain water. Do a pump test to see if your well has begun ‘yielding’. If yes, monitor at what times during the year your well yields, and you could begin using this water!
  • Maintain your well by cleaning and desilting regularly – at least once every five years

Contact details of well diggers in Bengaluru

  • A good time to dig wells is when the water table is low – the wells are easier to dig
  • Here’s a list of well diggers in Bengaluru
  • They can dig upto 40 ft
  • Many of them have dug wells outside

Bengaluru as well, in places such as Ooty and Hyderabad. They understand the lay of the land, and are are willing to travel.

Some of them are now on WhatsApp and will send you pictures of their previous work

Contact details of well diggers in Bengaluru can be viewed here :

Related Articles

Water Management – Best practices

Water Management in Apartment complexes (Best practices) Water Management in Gated Layouts (Best practices)

Recharge wells help recharge borewell on a farm

Mr Sanjeev Patil’s Sanyam Permaculture Farm is set on two plots of farmland adjacent to each other in Halligeri Village, Dharwad. Both plots are principally mango orchards. The smaller plot is of 1 acre with a farm pond towards the southeastern part, and the larger plot is of around 3 acres situated to its north.… Continue reading Recharge wells help recharge borewell on a farm

Water management at Ferns Residency layout

Introduction Ferns Residency is a residential layout in Kothanur in north-east Bangalore. It is 21 years old and is spread over 30 acres. It currently has 130 villas with 500 residents. This case study describes how layouts without a water connection from BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) can manage their water needs. Water… Continue reading Water management at Ferns Residency layout

Smart water meters in Astro Rosewood Regency

Introduction Astro Rosewood Regency, located on Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru, is an apartment complex of 188 flats, of which 175 are occupied. They use borewells and tanker water. However, 5 of the 6 borewells have gone dry. Even the yield of the last functioning borewell is decreasing. So, until 2020, they had to keep sing more… Continue reading Smart water meters in Astro Rosewood Regency

Water Demand

Understanding water demand Have you ever wondered how much water you use? Would you be able to estimate how much water do you actually need? In Indian cities, only a small percentage of the population are lucky enough to have access to municipal water supply. Around 40% of urban households do not receive any municipal water supply… Continue reading Water Demand


Our planet’s water circulates continuously from the atmosphere to land and oceans, and back again in a process known as the hydrological cycle. The hydrological cycle includes rainfall, percolation of water into the ground, and evaporation of water from oceans, among other processes. In this entire cycle, rainfall is our only source of fresh water.… Continue reading Rainfall