The Colonial Office established and funded geological surveys in British West African colonies, from 1903 until self government in c. 1960. Provision of water supplies, at first a minor component of the services provided, later often dominated departmental activities. Understanding of the nature of groundwater mirrored the state of the art elsewhere: supply kept pace with demand. Exploration of sedimentary basins led to development of major aquifers. In the 1930s innovative refinements of geophysical siting and well sinking techniques were developed. From 1980 major water borehole programs were largely supervised by British consultants, who continued to pioneer siting and construction techniques.