Thirsty Are Those Who Do Not Prep- Part 1, by The Grumpy Gunfighter

As a prepper who has lived in an off-the-grid home in the arid southwest desert for the past 20 plus years, I am no stranger to the challenges of obtaining safe and reliable sources of water. My family and I have used a professionally drilled well for our water. However, the unfortunate reality is that the water table in our region is dwindling. Years of historic drought in our area, coupled with the significant increase in the population, have made it apparent that water scarcity will continue to be a growing issue. We prep and have taken action so that we won’t find ourselves thirsty in the event of a crisis.

I wrote this article to hopefully inspire you all who also live where water is scarce to consider the importance of planning for clean drinking water. This applies even after the collapse of our modern water infrastructure.

Water is Life

Without access to clean drinking water, survival is impossible. It doesn’t matter how many bullets, bandaids, beans, and batteries you have stored up. If you and your family can’t hydrate, you may not last a week.

Survival Time Without Rehydrating

The average healthy human will die after three to six days without rehydrating, because water is life. Now, if you add physical exertion from activities, such as, running, hiking, building, and fighting, that time frame for survival without rehydrating can drop significantly. If environmental stressors are added to the equation, such as extreme heat or extreme cold, that timeline can drop to as little as one day.

Amount of Water Required Daily

The amount of water required daily by each person varies. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, the average human female needs roughly “11.5 cups of fluids and males need 15.5 cups”. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017) If you don’t fall into one of those two categories, maybe try averaging the two numbers.

Ultimately, it is important to realize that roughly eight glasses of water a day is a good average to strive for. However, some individuals will require more, while others may need less. A good general rule is to drink whenever you feel thirsty, and if you are going to be doing physical labor then you need to drink much more often than if you are sedentary.

How Much Water Required in Daily Life

It is somewhat easy to lose sight of just how much water we require in our daily life. We use water every time we wash our clothes, hands, cars, dishes, and bodies. Every time we cook food, clean the house, and brush our teeth, we require water. Now obviously, during a catastrophic collapse, some of these amenities can fall by the wayside but only to a certain extent. If we lose the ability to wash ourselves and the food we intake, then we can quickly run into serious risks to our health.

This series of articles are aimed towards getting you to think about how you can adequately supply yourself and your family with clean drinking water for as long as necessary. These articles will cover a variety of water related topics, including well building, water purification, filtration, and disinfection. Although this article will discuss the capabilities of certain products and how to build your own, it is important to realize that this article is not a paid endorsement of these products. It is simply a collection of information gathered from my own personal use and the use of our prepping group.

Location, Location, Location

Water is undeniably one of the fundamental components necessary for our survival. Therefore, it is critical that we position ourselves in a way that ensures we have access to it when the normal utilities we use are no longer functioning.

How Much Water Should We Have Access To?

First, let’s gain a little perspective on how much water we should have access to. The average four-person family uses 12,000 gallons of water a month! That is enough gallon jugs to fill an entire two car garage. So, we must ask ourselves, do we have enough space to store water for as long as we may need it? In all honesty, this is a trick question, because no one can predict how long we may be without traditional water services. In a routine disaster, it may be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. However, in a truly catastrophic event, it may be weeks, months, or years until services are restored.

Stored Water Alone May Not Be Adequate

Places in Puerto Rico were still without power and water services more than six months after their hurricane last year. Mentioning this is not with the intention of discouraging you from storing large volumes of water. It is simply to recognize that there is a real possibility that the average prepping family may not be able to rely on stored water alone to adequately service their needs in a long-term disaster or collapse.

Dedicated Water Sources

Ideally, you should deliberately choose to live relatively close to a dedicated water source, such as a stream, spring, lake, well, aquifer, or even a place that has consistent and regular precipitation. Although this is not always feasible, it is an important consideration when choosing your next home, cabin, or compound. It may also be worth doing research about what waterways are in close proximity to your home, to see what potential challenges you may have with purifying and transporting the water to where it will be used. If you aren’t able to initially pick a home that has close access to fresh water, it may be a viable option to install a well on your property.

Well Drilling 101

Before running out and hiring a drilling company, it is important to do some research on the area that you would like to start a well. This is because there are a myriad of factors that can determine the viability of a well in that location.


Now well drilling experts will refer to the term hydrogeology, which ultimately means the study of the groundwater. It is highly recommended that you put time and effort into familiarizing yourself with the hydrogeology of the area in which you would like a well, because depending on where you live, the geological conditions can be vastly different. Without proper research, it is easy to spend thousands of dollars drilling a professional well without ever finding a drop of clean water.

Well Contaminants

It is important to note that not all groundwater will be naturally clean, and so it is critical to make sure your well site is not near or down hill of potential contaminants. These can include septic systems, chemical storage areas, heavy metal deposits, recent flood areas, live stock farms, and even underground salt water seepage, for those of you who are planning on digging near coastal areas. If you aren’t sure of your local hazards or the safe well distances from them, you may be able to get more specific regional guidance from your local county health office.

Finding Clean Groundwater

Since the hydrogeological conditions will vary in your specific region, it is important to get help from experts, if you can. Local, county, and state geologists will be your best bet for obtaining detailed information about the conditions existing in your area. They should be able to provide you with guidance on where the safest as well as most abundant source of groundwater is. For more information on water tables, different types of wells, the effects of wells, and regional U.S. Maps of groundwater levels, you can visit the United State Geological Survey website. Although the information is more generalized, they can provide real time information on water tables throughout the continental United States.

If you don’t have an interest in dealing with government entities, as I know many of you may not, you can always reach out to local universities who offer geological programs. Many times, they can give you insight on the geological and hydrogeological conditions present in your region, and often this information is provided for free. Additionally, if you have the funds, it may be worth hiring a hydrologist expert to survey your land to give you the best shot at finding a clean and accessible water table.

Methods and Techniques Used to Find Groundwater

There are many methods and techniques used to find groundwater. Arguably the most reliable methods of them are the ones that are scientifically proven, such as using topography, test hole drilling, and the study of geological formations. However, there are some methods, such as Dowsing, which should be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Tomorrow, we will continue to go over more methods and techniques used for finding groundwater as well as continue with the information of how to go about obtaining a well, including legalities, so that you and your family can have water in the event that normal services discontinue.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
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Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. Good series coming here!

    I offer what we did on purchasing our place…..when the guy was testing the well we asked for the phone number of the laboratory that would test the water. I called them and asked what additional parameters we should test for in our area.

    The answer? Nitrates and Arsenic. As more wells are drilled across the west, and intensive manure/water mixtures go into the surface, lowering water tables evidently are exposing more of us to these.

    We have trace arsenic in our well, but it tested far lower than what the level of concern is. Still, rain barrels and water troughs are being set up under our building downspouts. We have mapped local creeks for access, stocked emergency water, and keep our small pond full. Wish I could afford a large concrete cistern.

    I have a sump pump, and an inverter for the pickup truck. In dire circumstance I will drive the truck to a water point, hook up the inverter and pump, and fill barrels with raw water which requires treatment before consumption. But that will not be a great solution.

    Thanks for writing this series. God Bless.

  2. Make sure you check on your state and local laws if you live in a “water rights” state. It is, I kid you not, an illegal theft of water to even set up a rain barrel in some jurisdictions because you’re stealing the water from whoever owns the water rights under your property. Mostly an issue for townies, maybe, but you still see properties sold to folks without water rights attached.

      1. Wheatley FIsher, I agree that rain water should not be “owned” by anyone, however several states claim that right. Water rights are serious business in some states; you can be fined $25,000 a day and face jail time for violating water rules.

        One of my BILs and one niece are water rights attorneys out west. There are hundreds of incidents where average people think they are doing the right thing and are screwed by the state, the BLM, or other folks because they did not check both the state and federal government requirements and get everything in writing.

        1. Thank you for your comments. I am experienced in MT ongoing water law disaster, and worked for BLM for 22 years in WY. My decision is an informed one. Water is life. Molon Aabe.

  3. “If you don’t fall into one of those two categories, maybe try averaging the two numbers.” Thank you for that! Lol needed a good chuckle this morning 🙂

  4. Excellent topic, and one that is sometimes taken for granted.
    I live in part of the Southwest as well, and understand the water issue. We have some unusual situations where some people are having to water haul, and yet others that live pretty close by can drill a well and have access to good water.
    I had to look hard to be sure I found a property where a well could be drilled and have access to a good water supply. I was blessed with what I eventually found.
    Access to water is a major issue, and some of the rural communities that have sprung up in my area are on community water, which is very problematic. The people are always being told to watch how much water they are using, and if they exceed the amount designated for the number of people in their residence they get warnings to cut back, or the water will be cut off.
    Like the Old West saying; whiskey is for drinking, and water is for fighting over.

  5. I have neighbors with advanced water preps in place. They have a Grey water recycling system in place. Additionally they have 5 ibc containers networked together under the back deck. These discretely catch and hold rain water from the house. The Grey water system could be attached to them etc as needed. Only a skirting was be needed to obscure the setup in a water rights state. Additionally they could be moved to the high end of the crawlspace further out of sight.

  6. North Texas here. 100 acres of land we live on. We have a spring fed creek, a well and 2 ea 10k water catchment tanks. One inch of rain provides approximately 3 K gallons of water from our metal barn building. We currently use the well for irrigation. The rain is plumbed into the house via a Grunfos pressure tankless pump, 2 sediment filters and final stop is a UV filter. We have extra water catchment tanks downhill from the big tanks that will one day feed our raised beds. Fortunately, Texas is an extremely pro rain catchment state. Amen!! Water is life. God is good!!

  7. What is the name of the silver (stainless steel?) hand pump at the start of the article? Is that a Flo-Jak? Where can I find info on it? I have a well already in place.

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