Water Collection and Storage Issues, by Brian J.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I began prepping approximately two years, prepping for what exactly is still unknown. We first were concerned with the economy going South (and still are) and begun to stock up for this type of event, as well as work on our debt’s. We quickly begun to realize that our path was not a straight one with no intersections, the deeper we got the more work we found was needed to compensate for a host of problems that could arise, and before we knew it, we were preparing for a multitude of scenarios. Each time you start to feel good about where you are the more you find you need to improve upon. I am not going to go deep into all aspects of what we have learned and prepped for, but instead  focus on one that we are realizing could be devastating our chances of survival if the cards got stacked against us.

We all know the human body needs allot of water and will soon perish without it, however, water for human consumption is not the focus of this article.
 My family lives in a suburban community close to cities, nuclear power plants, and we are very dependent on the public infrastructure. (We do know that this is not the ideal situation, but for the time being we are not comfortable with moving to a more secluded, less populated area. It is on our minds every day, and until we are ready to make the jump we are preparing to hunker down and make the best with what we have.) Back to the topic. This summer has been very hot so far in the United States, wild fires and droughts are in the news daily. Here we have not had more than few passing sprinkles of rain in over five weeks and the daily temperature for at least 15 days was over 90 and a few days topping a hundred.

Imagine this scenario for a moment. The grid goes down for an extended period of time for whatever reason, the public water supply screeches to a halt, home wells do not pump without electricity. You have made reasonable preparations to sustain you and your family and neighbors through a bad period but forgot to factor in summer heat and droughts and the effect they will have on your gardens, orchards, and livestock.
 You are probably not in a position where your garden and animals are your only source of food but someday it could be, and the survival of your family could depend on your ability to manage the situation and do

In the United States at the moment our corn crop is on the verge of collapse for 2012 due to severe droughts, other crops are also in peril but the corn is what I have been hearing the most coverage on. This is going to have major impacts on the cost of food, fuel, and any products that use some form of processed corn in production.
This is what inspired me to write this article, lately I have been watering my vegetable garden and other plants and trees from my carbon filtered outside hydrants, (carbon filters to reduce the chlorine content of the municipal water supply.) My reserves of water to do this job is depleted and now I am paying for my water to keep things alive and productive. Heavy mulching is a big help in the garden. But what if I did not have this abundant water source?

Unless you have a creek, spring, or other water source close by, what do you do? You certainly do not want to tap into your stored drinking water supply unless you have thousands of gallons at your disposal. Without reliable water your garden can quickly become a new compost pile and all you can do is hope for a better season next year, if you can make it until next year!
 We have 220 gallons of rain water that we collect from the roof to water the garden vegetables and herbs. This has been quickly depleted recently and we have not had any rain to refill the barrels.
I collect gray water for the fruit trees and other perennial plants we have on our small  suburban lot, but without running tap water this is not going to be in any great quantity because if you are using your stored emergency water you will be in serious conservation mode.

If you or a neighbor have a shallow well as well as the necessary tools and equipment on hand to convert to a manual pumping well this would be a great option. I have neighbors on wells, however, they exceed 200 plus feet deep. A more expensive option is to purchase a generator and store sufficient fuel to power the well, most pumps are 240 volts and can be over one horsepower so size the generator accordingly. Do not get caught up with the desire to power every electrical appliance that your heart desires, this would quickly deplete your fuel reserves. I have a friend who converted his Honda 6500 watt generator to multi fuel, he can burn gasoline, propane or natural gas. He has stored 500 gallons of propane as well as a few cans of gasoline. In a long term emergency, (you generally will not know if it is truly long term until it has been a long time down) you could use the generator just to power your well to get your water containers refilled and maybe recharge some battery powered devices, get a job done using power tools, etc.  Conservation is very important.
Most people have a tank type water heater that could be drained for use as well as the tanks on the back of toilets, however, this should be deemed potable in most cases and used for human consumption. (Do not use toilet tank water for human or pet drinking water if you use bleach tablets or other cleaning agents in your tank.)

Do not forget the water that is in nearly all canned goods, this is potable but if you have your drinking water covered well you could salvage this small amount to use in other areas. Every little bit helps here.
We have a creek about a quarter mile away as a crow flies and this would certainly be an option if I could get a vehicle there and have a way of getting the water into a container on my vehicle and safely get it back to my property.

A few people in the area have swimming pools, however I would not recommend going onto private  property in a crisis as this may lead to confrontation. This is an area that you should address before it becomes necessary. Maybe this neighbor has a large garden or animals also and has not thought through this scenario. You could educate them as well as secure some bonus water in the process.

If you have the space, you could build a fish pond into your landscaping, maybe you are not ready to raise tilapia fish or another breed to eat, you could just have a few goldfish swimming around in your new tactical water reserve disguised as a simple “keeping up with the Jones’s” addition to your yard. Who knows maybe you will become Jones and the neighbors will build ponds to keep up with you and without knowing it they will be serving the needs of you and other neighbors.

I have not found a good option yet to remedy this situation except to store as much water as I possibly can safely. I have no basement or garage, so space is an issue to contend with. I do currently have a few 55 gallon barrels that I store outside, and keep treated and rotated. Winter time I drain them down by a third and have not yet had a barrel failure. Underground storage is an option, but you need to have a way to get the water out of the tank when you want it. Have a manual backup pumping method available, and a backup to your backup.

In the early stage of a crisis, short or long term, you hopefully have time to react even if only a little bit. Fill any container with water before you lose service. Bathtubs, sinks, buckets, washing machine, milk jugs,
Tupperware, barrels, wheel barrel, fill the fresh and gray water tanks in your camper,  line your truck bed with a good heavy water tight tarp and fill it full.

Do what you can to make life easier, even if it is short lived. Anything to help you transition to the new reality.

This article is intended to be an eye opener to make you think more than a how to guide, as I have no good long term solution at the moment, and I am sure I am not alone in this area. Like most people these days, I was raised in a family who did annual small garden farming more as a hobby than anything else and was reliant on the infrastructure to supply us with life’s most basic needs.

My wife and I  have started from scratch and are  trying to learn the ways of the past and teach it to our children so we do not have to be dependent on anyone but ourselves, in today’s world that may not ever be possible but we can try.   <</p>