Project Global: Water


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Submersible Pump



If you want to look for a machine that is responsible for the flooding and land subsidence in various cities, the submersible pump indeed is one of the tools which is contributing to the exploitation of groundwater extraction for drinking and irrigation.

Extracting water from the aquifers is not a bad thing. Wells was invented to get access to clean water, especially for areas that have no access to proper and clean surface water. Groundwater extraction can be safely extracted from the aquifer if it is balanced with the recharge rate through a natural or artificial process. Subsidence occurs when the water table in the aquifer is reduced from the rock that supports more weight when saturated (Overdrafting).

A contemporary submersible pump can extract up to 283 cubic meters of water/hour. meaning in one hour one of these types of pumps could provide daily water consumption for up to 900 people (300 liters/day). State of art submersible pump can be equipped with frequency drive operation to control the output of the pump. Therefore, it can extract the amount of water that the well could give and avoid over-pumping.

In Mexico City, a similar type of pump is used for water supply, six groundwater extraction wells collectively extracting almost 600 liters per second (around 300 cubic meters/hour/pump) and supply water to the entire municipality. Reliance on groundwater extraction to supply clean water for 20 million people has dropped water tables up to 35 meters in the last 40 years in some areas in Mexico City.

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Components of an Electrical Submersible Pumping System.

Sources: Fetoui, Islam. “Submersible Pump System Overview: Main Surface and Downhole Components.” Production Technology, September 8, 2017. https://production-technology.org/submersible-pump-overview/.
  1. Kiley Fellow Lecture: Seth Denizen, "Thinking Through Soil: Case Study from the Mezquital Valley", YouTube Video, 1:14:58, “Harvard GSD,” September 22, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klJb9M-_3cg.
  2. The advantage of frequency drive operation in submersible pumps, Grundfos Video, 5:55, “Grundfos”, accessed May 2, 2020, https://www.grundfos.com/solutions/learn/ecademy/all-courses/the-sp-submersible-pump/the-advantages-of-frequency-drive-operation-in-submersible-pumps
  3. “Well.” Wikipedia. April 25, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well.