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A well cover, what it should offer, how it can be used, how it can be made

This construction manual is still being worked on, comment on our progress if you feel like it!
As a precious resource, water should be well cared for. But the traditional pattern of proper care for- and use of water wells break down. This creates the need for a better control of the use of the well. A cover on top on the well that can be locked with a pad lock is part of such control.
However this cover should not hinder the access to water in normal use. On the contrary, it should facilitate access in the many ways people are accustomed to draw water at present. Better even, it should offer improved access to water, easier and with better hygiene.

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A well cover, what is the use of it?
What has to be in mind when protection, hygiene and control of one's access to water has to be considered? This construction manual focusses on what can be realized at little cost and in little time, at the same time offering features that people like or are accustomed to. Such as a pulley, a rope guide or a water pump.
First step is organize assistance of some people and later of many people when the well cover is ready and has to be put on top of the well ring.

How to take care for safe water?
The surrounding of a well should not be muddy or messy. A cemented apron may guide spill and rain water away from the well. In practice often the reverse is the case. When the soil around a well solidifies, an apron may reverse its slanting direction and will guide spill water not away from, but towards the well lining. Leaking in during heavy rainfall may cause the rings of the well lining to shift out of position, damaging the superstructure as well. A solution for this problem will be described elsewhere.

Locking the well with a lid
If here is any danger of misuse of the well, it is wise to close it and lock access to it during hours when the well is not properly guarded.
The lid is best made from metal sheet welded to a tubular steel frame. Such a construction is easy to handle and can be locally made in most cases. Water falling on this lid should run off to the sides. Wood is a less appropriate material. When wet it becomes too heavy and may rot. A cover from (ferro) cement may crack and is heavy as well.
Practical is to anchor two U-shaped piece of re-rod halfway into the soft concrete during the casting. Later a metal rod sticking our of the cover is inserted into one eye. A hole in the cover sinks over the other eye. A padlock blocks access.


Mount a rope pump on one of the buds
The concrete bud has a shape suitable for attaching a rope pump. In the groove on top of the bud fits the wooden block in which the axle can turn. It is attached by winding 4 rounds or steel wire around it, while passing the wire through the opening in the middle of the bud.
That same opening is used for clamping in a piece of wood. This wooden part firmly fixes a tin gutter against the top surface of the ring. This gutter guides the water from the PVC-pipe to the outlet from where it runs into a bucket.
If you are in a hurry write for more precise instructions for mounting a rope pump this way. One happy day these details will be published in a construction manual of this kind.

Using the buds for attaching a support for a pulley
Fit four sticks into the four holes next to the buds. These sticks can be tied two by two at there upper end with rope or wire. In this way a fork is made in which a fifth stick can rest cross wise. To this fifth stick the pulley is attached.
The connection of the four sticks against the buds must be reinforced by winding steel wire four times around the buds and through the hole in the bud. The four rounds of wire can be tensioned by pushing a nail between them and twisting the wires around themselves.
Of how to perform this trick in the best way, an other manual will be presented later.

5 .Attaching a rope guide to the bud
When lifting water from a well, a rope guide helps by keeping the bucket hanging from the rope free from the wall of the well. With such a guide it takes less efford to pull the rope. This is because one's arms pull the rope towards the body instead of lifting the water with arms that are stretched forwards. Different from what this picture suggests, the ropegide has to be in a lower position. The wellcover has to be positioned just above the apron around the well.
To fixate the wooden parts on the buds is done with steel wire, tensioned by twiting it around itself.

6. Prepare the site for casting the well cover.

  • Look for a site as close as possible to the well as it is tricky to carry the heavy concrete ring over a longer distance.
  • The site has to be 2 meters by 2 meters (or 6 ft x 6 ft) and not situated on a slope.
  • Loosen the soil, remove rootes and stones. If there are small stones in the soil, sieve them out and keep them for later use in the concrete.
  • 7. Flatten the soil and compact it

  • Now you are preparing the soil for scraping a shape into it. So you need to compact it and flatten the surface. You can compact it by trodding on it, better is pounding with a wooden block.
  • Level the surface with a straigt batten. Move around systematically with this batten. Soil scraped away on higher spots should again be pounded in place in the lower spots.
  • Have a final check at the end for flatness, at well as for compactness.
  • 8. Understanding the scraping and the scraper

  • The idea is to scrape a ring Into the soil, as a mould for casting concrete in.
  • A round peg is hammered into the middle of the spot. This peg will become the center of the circle.
  • The scraper has two functional sides that stick our from the handle. The long part will scrape the bottom of the mould. The one sticking out only a little is meant for spreading the concrete in a later phase.
  • The top and bottom surface of the well cover ring should incline downwards just a little. This to make spillwater run outwards and not back into the well (see sketch 1). A second reason is to safe concrete. The ring will have the same thickness everywhere.
  • 9. Understanding the dimentions of the scraper

  • The diameter of the central opening should be no less then 70 cm.(2ft 4"). To get this diameter start nailing the scraper boards to the handle at half that size away from the end.
  • The width of the ring should be no less than 25 cm. (10") But 30 cm.(1 ft) is better. It is not a problem if the well cover ring has a slightly larger diameter than the diameter of the superstructure of the well.
    The width of the scraper results in the width of the concrete ring.
  • The scraper has two functional sides. The one sticking out most from the handle will scrape the bottom of the mould. The one sticking out only a little is meant for spreading the concrete in a later phase.
  • 10. Decide on the actual dimensions of the scraper

  • The handle is made of wood with a cross section of about 7cm. x 3 cm. Its length is just the width of your hand longer than half the diameter of the well cover ring.
  • Battens are nailed to the scraper in accordance to the choosen diameter of the central opening.
  • These battens are marked at the long side with a line where it will be cut later. This line starts at 10 cm. from the handle, tapering away to 13 cm.
  • At the short side, the line starts flush with the handle, tapering away to 3 cm.
  • 11. How the scraping is done

  • Sit on your knees, but do not lean on the soil direcly next to the gutter you scrape, as it may collapse.
  • Remove the scaped soil and dump it some distance away from the site.
  • Repair places where the scraping has not a smouth effect with wetted soil, as if you were repairing plaster.
  • When ready, do not let it dry out. Keep the schape moist by sprinkling water and covering the site with plastic or leaves.
  • Prevent somehow that someone can trod accidentaly on this work area. Keep out goats!
  • Prevent rain or rain water frim damaging the mould.
  • 12. Lining out buds and holes
    First focus on what you want the buds and holes to do for you. That will give you an idea how thick, high and long the buds must be. Same for the holes in the buds and the concrete ring. Look again at pictures 3, 4 and 5. The holes in the middle of the two buds may be wide. The holes next to the buds should match the sticks or tubes you have available for the pulley support or the overhead water tank.
    The holes in the ring, half way between the buds, may also serve to fit the supporting poles for the overhead water tank.

  • Make two boxes (inside dimentions: width 15 cm, height 30 cm, depth same as the width of the ring) from bits of timber.
  • Fixate the boxes in the right place with the sticks that will also form the holes at the side of the buds. In general they will be 5 cm. or 2" in diameter.
  • Inside the box, about in the centre, place something round of soft wood, carton, or cut from a banana stem. When this is removed after the concrete is cast around it and has set, a hole will remain, also about 5 cm or 2 '' in diameter. This hole is used for tying down the axle of the rope pump, the rope guide or the sticks that support the pulley.
  • 13. Lining the mould with plactic or leaves
    All the work done so far is wasted unless you make sure that the water used to wet the concrete mix can not seep away into the surrounding soil. So you have to put bits of sheet plastic into the mold, overlapping each other. In stead of platic large leaves (banana) can be used as well.
    Later when the wet concrete is poured in, check again that the plastic remains in place.

    14. Place larger stones at the bottom of the mould
    When it is difficult to get at gravel, economize on gravel as well as on cement by a fill of larger stones. These stones have to remain enough separated to insert the bits of re-rod and to pound in the concrete.
    Put no larger stones into the casting boxes for the buds. In practice it proves difficult enough to stir and pound the concrete in a way that it flows around the insert.

    15. Put many small length of re-bar or steel wire between the stones
    Reinforcement of the concrete is done best with small length of re-rod, steel wire or narrow strips of sheet metal. Put these short bits of metal between the stones. Make sure they overlap each other. Make a dense network.
    With very short bits of metal it is easier to stick the metal into the wet concrete. In that case add the concrete in thin layers, continuing also to add metal strips and bits of wire.

    16. Pound concrete between the stones
    Take care when adding water to the concrete mixture that it just starts flowing. This is ideal for pounding the mix between the stones and let it flow around the metal reinforcement.
    Start with pouring concrete into the boxes for the buds and let it flow from the box into the ring. This makes sure the buds are one with the ring. While pouring concrete in, also add bits of metal, strips or wire.
    Continue with filling concrete mix and bits of metal between the stones. Pound well, to assure the air between the stones can escape.

    17. Compact the top layer of concrete with the scraper
    Finalize the surface of the ring with smouthing the top layer of the concrete. While you use the short side of the scraper, the top surface gets the proper inclination outwards.
    Pay attention to the top surface of th1986

    18.f Finalize and plaster the top surface of the concrete
    Finalize the top surface of the bud with care. Pound, make sure trapped air can escape, put in small bits of metal reinforcement. This is important for the later attachment of the rope guide or the bearing block for the rope pump.
    When the concrete is still wet, this is the moment to mark the well cover ring with a date or with a name. In a project in Waipya at Ceram in Indonesia, the people choose to mark into the concrete the year of construction: 1986.