I was building a small reservoir to support a well, and so had a tunnel from this to my local river to act as a filling pipe. All was ready, so I marked the last square between the tunnel and river to be channelled.

A short while later I spotted a lone dwarf running down the pipe tunnel being chased by a wall of water. Luckily I was able to shut the flood gate and build some steps for him to escape before he drowned, but I'd rather avoid this situation in the future!

I presume this dwarf channelled the square and somehow ended up on the ramp square, then decided to run away from the water - straight in to the pipe tunnel?

How can I prevent my dwarfs from doing this in the future?
Or, is there a safer way to connect a "pipe" tunnel to a water source?

  • If you have a flood gate then what is the issue? just put the flood gate at the mouth of the reservoir when you build it.
    – tzenes
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:50
  • @tzenes The issue was the dwarf stupidly went in the pipe and got trapped in there by the incoming water. So closing the flood gate either traps the dwarf in front of the gate (drowning them) or behind the gate (trapping them in the pipe). I dug an unwanted breach in to the pipe for him to escape, although I guess I should of cut this in to the side of the reservoir, but I claim newbishness as an excuse for not thinking that at the time. So, I ask because I wanted to avoid this in the future(because the pipe might not be so easy to escape next time.
    – DMA57361
    Sep 2, 2010 at 17:28
  • It seems the best solution for the future is to place the gate when you make the reservoir so the pipe is tunneled up to a closed gate...
    – tzenes
    Sep 2, 2010 at 17:37
  • @tzenes So what you're saying is if the tunnel stops at a closed gate, and then I channel the square next to the gate (and so linking to the river), the dwarf obviously can't go in to the tunnel and so just walks up the ramp out the water?
    – DMA57361
    Sep 2, 2010 at 17:40
  • Maybe, that wasn't what I was suggesting, but it does sound plausible. I was suggesting that when you dig the reservoir, before you fill it, you dig the first square of the tunnel on the reservoir side and place a gate there. You close that gate. Fill the reservoir. Then dig your pipe from where you want it to go to the gate. Thus the dwarf is never in risk of being in water.
    – tzenes
    Sep 2, 2010 at 18:01

4 Answers 4


I know it's not much of an answer, but the method I usually use is to make sure there's an up stair at the end of the tunnel, dig out the other end, have the dwarf run up, away from the water and then building a floor on the Z-level above it to cover the hole.

Dwarves are stupid. That's just a game mechanic.

  • 8
    More games should feature the stupidity mechanic. It really livens things up.
    – sjohnston
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:08
  • Alternately, you could build a hatch over the stairs and connect it to a lever. The "pull lever" command will probably be executed faster than the "build floor" command, thus reducing the risk of water-related Fun.
    – sjohnston
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:11
  • Actually, this kind of works; I've ended up with an open stairway full of water at the moment anyway because of this incident, so I'll just slap a floor section over it (or, can I build a block of wall over a hole? Will that prevent flooding?). I guess hatches will be safer when presure plays a part? The escape stairs this time happens to be same z-level as the river water, so I guess that was lucky for me... I'll give it a little longer to see if anyone else has any suggestions otherwise I think this will do.
    – DMA57361
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:48
  • Also, does this "just let the run away" method work with magma? I've not dug deep enough to find any yet, but it's on my "to do" list.
    – DMA57361
    Sep 2, 2010 at 14:52
  • @DMA57361 - Actually, it works even better, because magma flows really slowly.
    – user56
    Sep 2, 2010 at 16:06

Well, in the comments to the answer, tzenes accidentally nudged me to the answer I think I'm happiest with, which is to block the tunnel so the dwarf cannot enter.

In other words, dig out the "pipe" tunnel so it's one square from the river, in the last square of this tunnel put an obstruction that blocks dwarfs but can let water through (linked flood gate or fortification), then channel the connecting square.

The result is that the dwarf cannot enter the tunnel, and so has to just step out of the channelled hole if, for whatever stupid reason, they enter it.

  • It also prevents creatures from coming in through your back pipe into your plumbing system.
    – Daenyth
    Sep 4, 2010 at 0:35
  • @Daenyth That's what grates are for.
    – C. Ross
    Sep 4, 2010 at 13:00

One very elegant way I found here! In short: dig out a square which is one square away from the river like so:

..˜˜˜..          square to channel out
H.˜˜˜..          designated by H
..˜˜˜..          (maybe also remove the upward ramp) 

This is the starting point from which to dig a pipe to your reservoir. Then cover this tile up with a constructed floor (designated by F below). All other tiles which are adjacent to the future inlet you make inaccessible with walls:

F.˜˜˜..     = is a wall 
==˜˜˜..     (I play tilesets, so not sure it's correct ascii)

Now chanell out the connection to the river from above! Your dwarf will stand on "F" when channeling. According to ramp access rules, your dwarf is not able to go down the ramp (and potentially enter the tunnel/pipe).

PS. I'm not sure if you can enter ramps diagonally, but I presume yes. Otherwise, building two walls would suffice.

It looks a bit complicated, but maybe better than drowning a dwarf!

  • I saw another method having to do with digging from below an extended drawbridge. I cannot find this now. In any case, it seems quite over the top if the simple method of placing a floodgate works. I worry a little bit the dwarf could drown anyway, but probably the water is to slow to fill the inlet?
    – relatively
    Oct 2, 2011 at 1:48

The simplest solution is dig the tunnel all the way except leave 1 square next to the river. Put your floodgate next to that square and link it to a lever as needed. Then channel the square between the river and the floodgate. I like to have the floodgate closed at this point so that if your dwarf somehow falls into the square (s)he just channeled out, (s)he isn't immediately swept into your reservoir. Then open the floodgate at your leisure.

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