Bailer Bucket For Well Water Collection Without Electricity

emergency well water bailer bucket

emergency well water bailer bucket

Guest article by ‘Papa S.’

I live in a dry part of the country. No, not “Dry”, a recent election took care of that – liquor is readily available in the shops. Dry as in little surface water most of the year.

My home has a well; I have a DIY hand pump which can be in place in around an hour, which is in addition to about two weeks’ worth of stored water, both drinking and flushing. But what if you don’t have a hand pump?

Most homes and irrigation pumps in my area have grid-powered submersible pumps. If that pump is fried, the water is still down there, but you’ll need a way to get it out.

The average depth-to-water in my area runs between 40 to as much as 80 feet; most wells are 6 to 14 inches in diameter with pipes and electrical lines in them.

Pulling all that mess is hard work, even for a well crew with all their equipment. What can I do by myself?


‘Do It Yourself’ Bailer Bucket

My choice is a bailer bucket. There are a couple of designs, including one which can be improvised in a pinch.


– A readily scrounge-able plastic soda bottle, any size from a half liter to 2-liter (larger is better), is the first thing required.

– A multitool or pliers, vise grips or adjustable wrench to remove the cap from the well.

– 100-feet of paracord (or more, if you suspect you’ll need it).
[ Ken adds: I always keep a working 1,000 ft roll of 550 paracord on hand ]

– A large marble, a shooter or taw, whatever you grew up calling it. Not very heavy, and something to add to your bag along with the 4-way valve wrench in there.
[ Ken adds: Lost your marbles? (get some here) ]



Take the cap off of your clean soda bottle, make two holes in the bottom. One needs to be large enough for a finger, or to insert your shooter marble. If the neck of the bottle will allow the marble to pass, you need a bigger marble.

Push the marble into the bottle.

Insert an end of the 550 paracord into one of the two holes and then loop it through the other hole. (Melted holes will hold up better than cut holes.) Tie it with a bowline to hold bottle for lowering into the well and raising back up.

Lower the bottle down the well with top down and the paracord tied to the bottom. When it hits the water, the marble will allow water into the bottle until it is fairly full, then drop into place and be held by the weight of the water while you pull the cord back up. Transfer the water into your container.

As good as a hand pump? Of course not, but it is a way to obtain water from an otherwise inoperable well. Maybe, just maybe, a trick worth remembering when you find yourself in dry country.

An intended bailer bucket made of 20 inches of 4” PVC pipe with a similar ball valve on the bottom is not too difficult. Multiple plans are available on the internet. It’s cheap and a lot more durable than the 2L bottle I just described. Here’s hoping we never need this.

– Papa Smurf

[ Ken adds: A few water well emergency hand pumps on Amzn: ]

Emergency Hand Water Well Pump – 50 Foot
Water Well Hand Pump – 25 Foot