Pumping stations in a water distribution system are necessary where water is pumped directly into the system (e.g. from a lake) or where pressure has to be increased because there is an insufficient difference in water levels in gravity flow distribution systems.

There are two general types of pumps: vertical turbine pumps and centrifugal pumps. Capital costs are high, but the most expensive part is the energy supply for pumps (mostly electrical). Therefore, it is very important that pumps have a high degree of efficiency and are maintained properly. To guarantee safe water quality, cross connection of drinking water and waste removal systems must be avoided.