Summary: Well water has been part of life for centuries, but our technology has changed. Here’s how we’ve made our water supplies safer and more efficient.

Water trapped deep beneath the earth’s surface is a resource that has propelled humanity forward. It has helped irrigate fields far from water sources, made sure that people have access to clean water closer to their settlements, and saved people from dehydration.

The process by which we find these sources of water for wells has also changed dramatically over the years, starting first with what would best be described as magic and slowly turning into a scientific method that yields safe, reliable, and affordable well water. Today we will to walk through the changes and how they have led to the safest and most reliable underwater sources.


One of the first ways that we found water wasn’t science so much as magic. The process was called “dowsing” and it involved a person with a special stick guessing where the water was.

Of course, this process did not yield consistent results since it involved essentially a person waving a stick around and guessing where water would be. It existed mostly because we had no way other than digging holes and hoping, but dowsing is also a process that is still sometimes used today.


Eventually people started to put together that underground water and above ground water sources were related; that the water in a lake wasn’t simply confined to its shores. From there, people began digging wells nearer to water sources and finding water. This was the beginning of scientific experimentation in finding water. Of course it wasn’t rigorous, but it did start to yield better results than dowsing.


Over decades and centuries, these experiments were pieced together into a knowledge of how to find well water based on the location of bodies of water, other wells, types of soil, and elevations. People began to be able to predict where they could find reliable water sources with substantially less effort than the “wave a stick and then dig” methods.

Even with this knowledge, however, the process wasn’t perfect, and some factors were difficult to account for in the assessments. Water safety and source reliability were some of the most difficult to factors to understand. People could often dig wells that wouldn’t last long or, especially before easy water purification, could do more harm than good.


Technological advances have helped with these factors in the last 200 years. Machines to dig wells faster and ways to purify water emerged, helping to reduce the labor and risk involved in building wells. Soon, a machine could help with an exploratory dig and water testing could be done to ensure that the water could be made usable. This helped much of the developed world create a series of wells that helped people make viable farms in places that could be a long way from any viable water sources.

Today, recent technology has made well water discovery a much easier and faster process. This includes seismoelectric devices that can penetrate the ground and find sources of water faster than guessing with maps and traditional surveying. This new technology also makes it easier to measure if the well is reliable before the digging starts, lowering labor costs. Today, this technology is the best way to locate well water sources.

If you are looking for a reliable, safe and affordable water source on your property, American Water Surveyors will help. We are armed with the latest seismoelectric technology to help you dig a well that produces the water that you need with lower risks for bad quality and unnecessary digging.