What is a Dry Well?

A dry well is a type of drainage system that is used to collect and disperse excess water from the ground. It is typically a large hole or pit that is filled with gravel or crushed stone, allowing water to seep into the ground. Dry wells are commonly used in areas where there is poor drainage or where traditional stormwater management systems are not feasible.

How Does a Dry Well Work?

A dry well works by collecting water from the surface and allowing it to slowly infiltrate into the ground. The gravel or crushed stone in the well acts as a filter, removing debris and sediment from the water before it enters the soil. This helps to prevent clogging and ensures that the water is able to percolate through the ground effectively.

Benefits of Using a Dry Well

There are several benefits to using a dry well as a drainage solution:

1. Improved Stormwater Management: Dry wells help to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff, which can help to prevent flooding and erosion.

2. Cost-Effective: Dry wells are generally more cost-effective than traditional stormwater management systems, such as retention ponds or underground pipes.

3. Environmentally Friendly: Dry wells promote the natural infiltration of water into the ground, which helps to recharge groundwater supplies and reduce the strain on municipal stormwater systems.

4. Flexibility: Dry wells can be designed to accommodate different levels of water flow, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Types of Dry Wells

There are several different types of dry wells that can be used depending on the specific needs of the site:

1. Traditional Dry Well: This is the most common type of dry well, consisting of a large hole or pit filled with gravel or crushed stone.

2. Modular Dry Well: Modular dry wells are pre-fabricated units that can be easily installed and connected to create a larger drainage system.

3. French Drain: A French drain is a type of dry well that is designed to collect and redirect water away from a specific area, such as a foundation or basement.

4. Retention Dry Well: A retention dry well is used to temporarily store excess water before slowly releasing it into the ground.

Installation and Maintenance

The installation and maintenance of a dry well are important factors in ensuring its effectiveness:

1. Site Evaluation: Before installing a dry well, a thorough site evaluation should be conducted to determine the appropriate size and location.

2. Permitting: Depending on local regulations, a permit may be required for the installation of a dry well.

3. Regular Inspection: Dry wells should be inspected regularly to ensure that they are functioning properly and are not clogged with debris.

4. Cleaning and Maintenance: If a dry well becomes clogged or is not draining properly, it may need to be cleaned or repaired.


In conclusion, a dry well is an effective and environmentally friendly solution for managing excess water. Whether it is used for stormwater management or to redirect water away from a specific area, a well-designed and properly maintained dry well can help to prevent flooding and erosion, while also promoting the natural infiltration of water into the ground.