Dwarf Fortress – Guide to Waterwheel Power Wells

A relatively brief overview on how to pump water up from a river into your fort without drowning your dwarfs.

Waterwheel Power Wells

A Few Basics

First a few basics that might prevent you from getting hung up:

  • This method is only good for going up 8 levels. A single waterwheel provides 100 units of power, but consumes 10 units. The axle consumes 1 unit. Each screw pump consumes 10 units. I do not know if more waterwheels would produce more power.
  • Maybe place everything before you dig that last tile between your tunnel and the river. Kind of wish I did.
  • Insure each screw pump area is fully enclosed! Don’t want to cause flooding!
  • Place the axle first. Gives you something to hang the waterwheel from.
  • In order to power a waterwheel, it must be put in water that is flowing. When I tried to put it in a river on the surface, that apparently wasn’t flowing per the game. So I had to make it flow.
  • Screw pumps on subsequent levels must have their outtake going the exact opposite direction of the screw pump below it. Just something to keep an eye on.
  • Screw pumps should not have a tile directly below their outtake. This is what lets power jump from screw pump to screw pump.

What You’ll Need


  • Miners to dig stuff out.
  • Crafters to make all the components.
  • Whoever to place the components and construct the screw pumps, axle, and waterwheel.

Each Screw Pump (takes up 2 tiles) needs:

  • 1 block. Can be made out of stone (mason’s workshop), wood (carpenter’s workshop), glass (glass furnace), ceramic (kiln), and metal (forge). Note that I’m not entirely sure if all types of blocks can be used with the screw pump (I.E. glass) so be advised.
  • 1 enormous corkscrew. Can be made out of wood (carpenter’s workshop), glass (glass furnace), and metal(forge).
  • 1 pipe section. Can be made out of wood (carpenter’s workshop), glass (glass furnace), and metal (forge).

The Waterwheel (takes up 3 tiles) will need:

  • 3 logs.

The Axle (takes up 1 tile) will need:

  • 1 log.

Step 1. Find a Water Source

So I used a river, digging directly into the side of it below the surface. I think you could use an aquifer but I didn’t do it that way so that’s beyond the scope of this guide. I’ll include a picture of essentially what I had.

Step 2. First Tunnel

So you’ll want to go below the surface. I only went one level down, but any level where you can still see the river is good. Dig a tunnel right up to it, but do not breach into it yet. The other end of the tunnel should go all the way to the map edge. This will insure that the water that flows into it stays flowing even once it’s filled up. Also dig a little bit of a room, roughly the size of the room you’d like above it. That way the waterwheel and screw pump in the above room can both reach water.

Step 3. Dig Out Room for Waterwheel & Screw Pump

Now you’ll want to dig out the area in the level above that you just did, like so:

Next channel out 3 tiles in a row for the waterwheel and 1 tile for the intake of the screw pump.

Step 4. Place Axle, Waterwheel, and Screw Pump

Construct the axle next to the middle tile of the 3 tile channel. Then construct the water wheel in the 3 tile channel. Then place the screw pump with it’s intake, the end with a skinny pipe jutting out, face the 1 tile channel.

Step 5. The Stack

So now you need to dig up some rooms on higher levels in order to place more screw pumps. Each room should be fully enclosed as to not flood everything. The room with the last screw pump should have a door, and you can even include another room inside it with a floodgate if you’re that paranoid.

In order to power each subsequent screw pump from the first, you need to do a few things.


Make sure each screw pump is facing the opposite direction as the one below it. In the first screw pump’s intake is facing north, then the next it’s facing south, and the one after that back to north, etc.


Make sure there’s a channel in front of each intake, again the end with the skinny pipe, so that it actually has access to the water in the room below.


Make sure you channel out the tile below the screw pump out take. That insures that each subsequent screw pump receives power.

Here is a sideview of what the stack would look like.

Last Step. Breach, Run, Drink

Ok, now all that’s left to do is breach into the river and your dwarf will book it the hell out. After he gets out of all your pump rooms, I’d set the door to the last pump room as forbidden. And that’s it!

Provided you have a level above your last pump room(which you should, otherwise what are you doing?), you should be able to make channels into that pump and place wells over said channels.

Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 6894 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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