Water supply to San Tong village


Duration:3 months


Country: China

What did this project achieve?

Replace polluted well water with fresh water system for villagers in China

ICE Caring Engineering (ICarE) is part of ICE Hong Kong and organises mini civil engineering projects run by volunteers to help improve living conditions of people in mainland China and south-east Asia.

The San Tong water supply was ICarE’s first project.

Volunteer teams designed and constructed a system to carry fresh water to San Tong village, near Qingyuan in China. Up until then villagers had relied on contaminated wells for their water, with consequent health problems.

The ICarE team built the new system between October 2012 and January 2013.

Difference the water supply has made

Polluted well water was affecting villagers’ health in Qingyuan. Locals were often getting sick as a result.

ICarE’s system brought fresh drinking water to 200 families – about 1,000 people. The health of villagers has improved considerably since they’ve been connected to the new supply.

How the work was done

Laboratory tests on samples from San Tong’s well waters showed that the supply was highly polluted and probably connected to the frequent illnesses of many villagers.

The first step for the ICarE team was to identify a suitable source of clean water which they found about 3km from the village.

The team decided on a three-part system to get the clean water to the village. This included an intake structure, a storage tank and transmission pipes.

Volunteers laid 3km of uPVC pipes underground to carry the water. It was stored in a two-compartment reinforced concrete tank with a capacity of 80m3.

The San Tong system uses a granular filter to clean the water. Granular filtration is a process where water flows through granular material such as sand, removing bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing micro-organisms.

ICarE’s current project is for the village of Xin Qing in Guangdong province. The system will transport clean water to 800 people over 4km.


Water is a basic human need - it’s not an optional requirement.

Liu Wenjun

Director of the Safe Drinking Water Institute at Tsinghua University, Beijing

Fascinating facts

Although China is often viewed as an industrial nation with large and densely populated cities, most of the population lives in rural areas.

Much of rural China lacks infrastructure such as paved roads, markets and clean water.

Many rural Chinese families rely on farming for their income. Traditional manual farming methods are still common. The result can be poor productivity and low yields.

Poverty rates in the countryside are 2.5 times higher than urban areas.

People who made it happen

  • Project donor: James DB Chen, ICE Fellow and Chair of ICarE
  • Technical advisor: Atkins China
  • Over 20 ICE members volunteered for the project

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