We have plenty of water outside, and if you’ve been following along so far, you set the outside lake as a water source so dwarfs can drink from it. There is one fatal flaw with that, however; the water freezes over in the winter! If you’re dwarfs run out of booze in the winter, they’re either done for, or will be very, very thirsty come springtime. We’re going to fix that in this section by making an indoor water source, which uses many of the skills you have learned so far, like channeling and activity zones, but introduces some much more complicated skills, like building machinery and controlling water. If I broke this tutorial into skill sections, the intermediate segment begins here, SO LISTEN UP! >:|

We’re going to create our indoor pond/water source using the following steps:

  1. Digging out the pond area
  2. Channeling a passage from the well to the river
  3. Placing a screw pump next to the river
  4. Placing a floodgate at the pond input
  5. Linking a lever to the floodgate (and raising the floodgate)
  6. Activating the screw pump and filling the pond
  7. Deactivating the screw pump and closing the floodgate
  8. Placing activity zones over the water source

Holy crap that’s a lot of steps! We’re going to take this a bit at a time, and we’ll be done in no time.


16.1   – Digging Out the Pond Area


We’re going dig our water source on the stockpile floor (and a few floors below it), behind the food stockpile. This is water, so it makes sense to place it near consumables. Also, note that when we dig down, the entire pond area is made of rhyolite. This is good! If you make a water source in dirt it has a chance of getting contaminated. You need to either find rock to make a pond in, or line dirt with rock walls and floors. But we don’t have to worry about that, so…

First, dig out the area behind the stockpile as follows.

Now, dig channels on 3-levels under this area to create the box the water will be held in, BUT, designate level 120, and WHEN IT IS DONE, designate level 121. When 121 is done, THEN designate level 122. If you designate everything at the same time, miners will just dig everything completely randomly like idiots, eventually creating a cave-in thus knocking your miners into comas. Use the below picture to see which z-levels to channel on. Notice that each subsequent level is smaller than the previous one. I’ll explain after.

**EDIT** THIS SHOULD BE LEVELS 120, 119 AND 118

**EDIT** THIS SHOULD BE LEVELS 120, 119 AND 118

We want to make each level smaller than the previous one because that will leave upward slopes so our miners (and anyone who falls in) can get back out. This isn’t a death pit, we’ll be covering that in a later segment.

When it’s finally done being channeled, the same three levels should look like the following.

Looks good? Good! Then step 1 is done, and we can move on to connecting this pond to our nearby river so we can fill it!


16.2 – Channeling a passage from the well to the river


It’d be nice to have an endless supply of water connected to our fortress, wouldn’t it? Well we do! Have a look right to the north of our pond, and you’ll see a river flowing west. We’re going to dig a passage from our pond on level 120 to the river, like below.

This could take a while, so take the time to create the following items

Wooden pipe section (carpenter’s workshop)

Enormous wooden corkscrew (carpenter’s workshop)

Floodgate (mason’s workshop)


16.3– Placing Screw Pump Next to the River


Once the passage is complete (by the way, this would be a TERRIBLE time to get attacked by goblins) go to build (“b”), Machine Components (“M”), and select the screw pump. Place it directly south of the river, and make sure in the menu it says “pumping from the north” (this should be by default, but double-check).  The screw pump requires the architecture labor preference to be built.

To give you an idea of what a screw pump will do when you activate it, look at the following picture, grabbed from the magmawiki.

The pump is going to suck water from the north in the tile below (the bottom left tile in the picture above). It will raise that water one z-level and send it on its way to the south, through our passage, and into the pond.

While you wait for that, let’s build our floodgate.


16.4- Placing a floodgate at the Pond Input


There are two reasons for a floodgate in this situation.

  1. We have a passage from the middle of our fortress to the outside. This is a major security flaw If we don’t seal off that passage.
  2. We need to stop the water from flowing into our fortress if something goes wrong.

Alright. If you’ve got a floodgate built, build it (“x”) right where the water enters the pond, shown below.

You’ve gotta leave that tile open so that the mechanic who links the lever to the floodgate has a tile to stand on and work on the floodgate. [wink!]


16.5– Linking the Floodgate to a Lever


So now we have a floodgate placed, but it’s locked closed, and it won’t open automatically. The only way to open and close a floodgate is via a lever, like the drawbridge we created previously.

Start by placing a lever next the our other one in the Dining Hall. Now, I hear you asking; “wouldn’t it make more sense to put the lever right next to the floodgate so we know easily what it belongs to?” I’ll answer that question with a story.

I was building drowning chambers in one of my old fortresses by opening floodgates linking a flowing river to chambers underground. All was going swell until I was attacked by goblins. The goblins were battling my soldiers, but one rogue goblins sneaked past my forces, went underground to my drowning chambers, pulled the lever to the floodgate, which was right next to the floodgate, and left. Soon, the entire z-level was flooded, and not a single dwarf could reach the lever, so there was no way to close the floodgate. I had to seal off that entire floor.

So, no, putting a lever right next to the item it is linked to, is a bad idea because if the area where that linked item is becomes dangerous, you want to be able to pull the lever from a safe and isolated distance. So we’re going to have all of our levers in our control room. If you need help remembering which one is which, you can place notes on tiles by pressing “N”.

Now, like you did with the drawbridge, add the task to the lever “link up a floodgate” (“f”), and choose the floodgate.

Right! Now, when it’s done, pull the trigger “P”. You will see the floodgate disappear. This just means it is raised.


16.6 – Activating the Screw Pump and Filling the Pond


Now we’re nearly there! We need to now activate the pump by having a dwarf pump manually. At least one dwarf needs the “pump operating” labor preference to do this. Simply go to the pump and press enter! But be ready to follow the next directions, because we don’t want to flood our fortress.

Water will quickly start heading down our passage to the pond.

Watch as the water flows into the pond area. Alright, now THIS IS IMPORTANT. Press “k” and move the cursor over some of the tiles in the pond. That will show you how high the water is on that tile.

Keep watching as the water fills the pond, and when the water on level 119 gets near 5/7 or 6/7, STOP! We don’t want this overflowing.


16.7– Deactivating the Screw Pump and Closing the Floodgate


This is simple. Go to the screw pump and press enter. Now go to the lever that controls the floodgate and press “P”. Phew. Tough.

And there you have it. A full pond! Just one more thing to make this a worthy pond.

16.8 – Placing activity zones over the water source

We have two activity zones to place over the pond. One is “water source” that makes dwarfs drink from it. The other is “pit/pond” which in this case will make dwarfs fill it with water automatically with buckets (providing you have buckets).

First, place an activity zone over the pond using “i”. DO THIS ON LEVEL 119! If you try this on level 120, it won’t work because the water is technically on level 119. Place the zone and set it as a water source (“w”). Now set it as a pit/pond (“p”).

That’s not all. By default, a pit/pond is set to a pit, so you need to set it as a pond. Press “P” to set pit information. Now press “f” to set it as a pond.

DONE! Now you have a water source that dwarfs will automatically fill with water using wooden buckets (if you don’t have any, make some). You’re dwarfs will now not die of thirst, but they would still prefer alcohol above all things, so keep making some!


16.8– Other things to do with Screw Pumps


  • Make drowning chambers for goblin prisoners. Methods can be complicated, but it’s such a great way to deal with prisoners.
  • Use water pressure to wash goblins into pits.
  • Irrigate land to farm on.
  • Create pump stacks
  • Create lava pump stacks for endless energy!

Many, many more. Just check out the magma wiki.

continue on to 17.0 – Soldier Stationing/Cave Defense