Peqi’in is blessed by a wealth of springs. The main spring, ‘Ein al-Balad (“The Village Spring”), used to supply drinking water, but today is used mainly for irrigation. The al-Balad Spring emerges near the ancient village center, flowing year round, with peak effluence during winter months. The courtyard surrounding the spring was a social center in the past, and remains so to this day. Residents would gather here several times a day for various purposes: watering livestock, washing dishes, laundry, and rinsing wheat berries. Acquaintances or travelers chancing to pass through the village would meet here. The inner “courtyard” of the village was frequented by wandering magicians and storytellers, to captivate their audiences with miracles and wondrous stories, and it was also the setting for festivals and markets.
During the summer months when the flow was less, the well water was used for irrigating gardens. In the winter it powered two flour mills, vestiges of which are still extant. One is located near the grave of R. Yossei of Peqi’in, and the other lies in the streambed above the first mill, which was in operation until the 1940s.
The lower mill, near the wadi, included the well and the mill building itself. Near the well was a reed barrier that filtered the water. At the mill’s lower level was a large wooden turbine. When flow from the spring was exceedingly strong, the turbine would usually suffer damages, and the miller would hurry to repair the wooden parts. but after the nearby well was dug, the problem was solved: When the strong flow near the mill would arrive, some of the water was diverted via the channel to the well, which would gradually fill up. The rest of the water would burst forth with lesser force, rotating the turbine as needed. The mill would operate until the spring water flow dropped to a certain level; then operations would resume the following winter with the rainy season.
During the period of the British Mandate in the 1930s, High Commissioner A.G. Wauchope ordered the construction of concrete channels that led the well water to both sides of the village, in order to water the al-Hawakhir gardens. A reservoir was also constructed, in order to preserve the well water for use when necessary. A pipe with a filter was attached to the reservoir, which drew drinking water out to a point where women of the village could fill up the pitchers and cans that they carried home on their heads.
Water from the pipe went on to flow to the watering trough (ar-ran, in Arabic), supplying village beasts with water.
In order to ensure the proper distribution of drinking water among the citizens, a person was appointed known as “sawaq al-’ein” – the “spring driver.” This person made sure that the water channels were in proper working order, and oversaw the fair distribution of water among farmers.
In 1972, the traditional well site was destroyed. Three reservoirs to collect excess water for agricultural irrigation were built, as well as a pump room for pumping drinking water.
In 1992, the well underwent a final renovation. Today, the water flows mainly during the rainy season, trickling off gradually until the following winter, when it again fills copiously.