The water supply of the rural coastal areas in Sri Lanka is provided by private open dug wells, most of which have been flooded by sea water during the tsunami. The salinity of the well affected proved not to be the main problem, and early attempts to rehabilitate wells failed. Salinity reduction can only be achieved naturally, through the recharge of the aquifer. The true challenge for rural water supply is represented by bacteriological and agricultural contamination and sustainability of handpumps. Constructing back better means also an exit strategy from water trucking that does not focus on salinity, but introduces a new water quality awareness, and new water purification solutions, to the users. A lesson learned: in case of tsunami, do not try to rehabilitate the well, just wait for the rainy season.