University of Missouri Extension

G1800, Reviewed October 1993

Sources for Farm and Home Water Supply

Donald L. Pfost
Department of Agricultural Engineering

A dependable, drinkable water supply is an absolute must for farm enterprises. Sources in Missouri include wells, cisterns, public water supplies, springs and ponds. Other important aspects of a water supply are the quantity needed, pumping, distribution and treatment.

The following books provide more detailed information on water sources:

Information is also available from the Drinking Water Hotline, 800-426-4791.


A properly constructed well usually will provide a dependable supply of high-quality water for a long time with little maintenance. Before contracting with a well driller, you may wish to become familiar with state regulations by reading Rules and Regulations of the Missouri Water Well Drillers Law, available from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Maps and Publications, P.O. Box 250, Rolla, Mo. 65401, 573-368-2125. Current price is $2 plus $1.50 for postage and handling.

The Department of Health has available a free guide sheet on Properly Drilled Well Construction and Submersible Pump Installation. Contact your local health department for a copy or for other information.

Information on availability of water, depth at which an adequate supply might be found and other geological information may be obtained from the Division of Geology and Land Survey, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 250, 111 Fairgrounds Road, Rolla, Mo. 65401, 573-368-2165.


A cistern with enough capacity can provide water for domestic purposes, but a cistern usually is not adequate for livestock.

Cistern construction, drainage surfaces and filtering equipment are important considerations in preventing contamination of the water supply. A cistern must be large enough to provide water during periods of little or no rainfall, unless you can arrange to haul water to refill the cistern. Treatment of the water should be continuous to eliminate harmful bacteria.


A properly developed spring can provide water for domestic and farm use, if the amount of water available meets the needs through the year.

Springs do not necessarily provide safe water for drinking without treatment. In Missouri, the Department of Health will approve spring spring water supplies for domestic purposes if the spring is properly improved and water tests are satisfactory.


Ponds are a water source in many areas where other supplies are not available.

To be satisfactory, the pond's watershed should be about 10 times the surface area of the pond in clay pan areas. The entire drainage area should be grassed and free of livestock. A buffer strip at least 100 feet wide from the edge of the water should be grassed and free of shrubs and trees and livestock.

Pond water for domestic use should be filtered and treated. The filter may be a commercially available type or constructed on the site.

Public water supply

Many areas of Missouri have public water supplies available. Where available, this usually provides a dependable water supply that is constantly monitored and treated.

When other options are available, evaluate the cost of water. This includes the cost of developing, managing and maintaining a private system.

G1800 Sources for Farm and Home Water Supply | University of Missouri Extension

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