A new ISO International Standard is expected to result in benefits for town planners, contractors, municipal bodies, government departments, farmers and even the average household by reducing the costly infrastructure associated with the construction of water wells.

Ground water constitutes a major source of water supply found below the earth's surface. According to the Groundwater Foundation, an American non-profit organization, more than eight million cubic kilometres of fresh water is stored in the earth, and half of that is within a kilometre of the surface. Before water can be extracted from the ground and used as drinking water by consumers, pumping tests are performed to obtain data on the quantity and quality of the ground water. They are also used to determine if exploitation of the ground water is technically and economically viable at the particular location.

ISO 14686:2003

ISO 14686:2003, Hydrometric determinations - Pumping tests for water wells - Considerations and guidelines for design, performance and use, specifies the fundamental components required of any pumping test before large investments in both time and money are made in constructing a water well.

According to Suresh Chandra, Chair of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 113, Hydrometry, ISO 14686 provides users with internationally recognized guidelines on the design, performance, and use of pumping tests.

"Although guidelines are available locally in various countries, our experts recognized the need to standardize the guidelines for helping users at the international level by drawing upon the vast bank of knowledge on the relevant technologies available from a wide variety of sources all over the world. Therefore, instead of consulting a large number of reference texts/standards, users can confidently take assistance from ISO 14686 for accessing the latest and most common practices in this field."

The new standard describes the factors to be considered and the measurements to be made when designing and performing a pumping test. It also provides a set of guidelines to take account of the diversity of objectives, aquifers, groundwater conditions, available technology and legal contexts.