There is really no reason why one can’t store a considerable amount of water. If you have access to food grade containers and some potable water from the tap or better, a modest water filter, then one can store copious amounts of water. It just takes a little time.
We are retired and living that “fixed income” lifestyle. Fortunately, we learned to prepare at a fairly early age and spent a little time to store important tools and supplies when we could afford to do so. Then, later in our careers, we found ourselves acquiring a broader array of tools and supplies, most in duplicate and triplicate. We often reflect on how God has been so good to us and continues to bless us in our leaner years. But we do have to discipline ourselves with respect our budget. If you are like us, limited on funds, then you may find this useful.
Living on a lake and having acquired filtration tools I thought little of going down to lake to draw water. Okay, although we’re 70 feet away, we are a couple hundred feet in elevation higher. That makes a direct hike unlikely and leaves us a half mile walk using a gentler grade. Now that I am old and a little crippled with age, the grade that I would need to scale is getting less desirable. In fact I think that in tough times I could succumb to the challenge.
Some types of Schumer Hits The Fan (SHTF) events for which we would be planning might leave us with contaminated water or a disabled municipal water supply. So, for what reason would I store water, except the obvious for human consumption? With absence of abundant water (and for several other reasons) could come a spike in bacterial infection and viral spread as a result of a lack of human or societal hygiene. A topic on everyone’s mind during the COVID-19 panic. Not to mention a dozen other day-to-day uses. Just think about what you are using water for every time you go to a faucet. It’s not hard to imagine a dozen uses for this precious resource.
At one time I considered buying the big blue potable water tanks but it never climbed high enough on my priorities to take the plunge. One challenge would be where I would have space to locate it. The garage was out, for OpSec reasons. I couldn’t reveal to the neighborhood that I prepare to extremes. Then there’s the basement, although there’s room, but water below grade would make it a tough chore to haul up to the main living area when needed. No, there has to be a more compact means of storing that resource in similar volume but portable enough for a small group of Seniors like us (and mama) to have and store and resupply without killing ourselves with 43-pound buckets, going up and down the stairs.
When I price bottled water I find myself discouraged by what I will have to invest to gather up an acceptable amount of water for the uncertain tomorrows. At prices frequently exceeding $1.00 per gallon I just can’t afford to buy a couple hundred gallons. Sure, I am fortunate to have an acceptable environment that will accommodate stacks of water cases in gallons or the impracticable and expensive bottles. And since water is 8.3 lbs per gallon I’d rather not have to carry it around too much. That means storing in several areas in the house might be a good idea. Near bathrooms, kitchen, both upstairs and downstairs. So I chose single gallons as the easiest and most portable, for our needs.
In our water district here in middle Tennessee we are charged $10.33 per 10 thousand gallons. That equates to $0.001 per gallon. An equitable deal, for sure. Why should I go out and buy water for one thousand times the price? Fortunately our water is quite drinkable right out of the tap! We do use a Berkey water filter for our cooking and drinking needs, as a bathtub of our water does reveal the chlorine from the processing but in tough times the tap quality would be just fine especially compared to what might be available during hard and infectious times. So I have the water, but now I need containers.
I considered buying food grade containers but found them cost prohibitive. We buy milk regularly and sometimes juice by the gallon. More than a decade ago I used 1 gallon juice bottles to store a dozen or so gallons of tap water. These were bottles that were washed thoroughly before filling. So when revisiting the stored water several years later what did I find? Water with a pseudo smell and taste of the juice previously in the bottle. A similar result came from the 1 gallon milk jugs I used, with one exception. The odor of the micro organisms still alive in the jug made it much worse. We only use the twist off or threaded containers. Learning to sanitizing these vessels was my next step.
What I’ve learned in the process of sanitizing milk jugs and juice bottles has been leaving us with great tasting and smelling water. And although it’s not store bought reverse osmosis quality water, I’d be happy consume it daily if needed. After all, I grew up drinking out of a garden hose…
The following is my way to sanitize a used container and not necessarily The way sanitizing is to be done. Please check the ever credible internet for a method that suites you. Here’s how I do it:
Disclaimer: When I use the term Bleach in this article I am referring to 5.25% or 8.25% Sodium Hypochlorite or what is commonly known as regular or plain household bleach. DO NOT use the Scented bleaches, High Efficiency bleach, Splash-Less Bleach or any other intended for laundry purposes or those intended for commercial or industrial use! Do not sanitize with bleach if you are allergic to chlorine bleach. And, of course: “…your mileage may vary, see dealer for details, batteries not included, some assembly required.”
1.) Wash: using dish detergent and warm water. Warning, do not use hot water as temps over 110 degrees tend to stretch, disfigure and weaken a milk jug. Scrub in soapy water using a long handle bottle brush. I like to soak the jug in soapy water for a day as well. While scrubbing, include the outside of the jug particularly around the outside threads for the cap and inside the neck area. Don’t forget to scrub the inside of the cap as well.
2.) Rinse: thoroughly and let dry. This step normally consumes around 2 or 3 gallons of water to get all the detergent residue out of the bottle. But at $0.001 per gallon I’m not concerned about breaking the bank.
3.) Bleach: 2 to 3 tablespoons of bleach into the bottle then using tap water fill the bottle. I like to mark the bottle with an S and the sanitize date. Store the bottle for two weeks. This period of time may not be necessary as most micro biology is killed on contact with bleach, but I find it to be a thorough amount of time. Warning: DO NOT drink the bleached water at this stage!
4.) Empty: after the jug has been bleached, empty the bleach water and rinse the jug thoroughly. Set aside and let air dry. Note that if you are on a septic system as we are, bleach down the drain will harm the biological breakdown processes in your septic system. I use the bleach water for other purposes around the shop. After drying there may still be a faint oder of bleach in your jug. This is fine just as there are also trace amounts of chlorine in the municipally treated tap water we consume.
5.) Fill with potable water: Fill the sanitized jug in one of two ways. From the tap if your water is acceptable right out of the tap as is ours. Or, fill the jug using the water filter system you normally use for cooking and drinking. In our case we use the 3 gallon capacity Berkey system which easily fills a gallon jug using the valve on the lower unit.
If you don’t already have a water filter system there are dozens on the market that do a great job of filtering and producing good-tasting water. Read the reviews and comparisons to find one that suits your needs. I’ve found some very good recommendations on survivalblog.com. Several years ago we bought our Sawyer personal filters and the Homespun brand ceramic filter system used in 5 gallon buckets. Other common filtration systems are Brita, Katadyn, Pur or for that matter there are several filters in the $20 range designed for RVs that can get the job done as well.
Treat your water
Although I have stored commercially bottled water that tasted just as fresh and new after twenty five years of storage, for long term storage some sources recommend a drop or two of bleach per gallon. This amount should deter the growth of any organism in your water over time. Experts say up to 8 drops of plain hypochlorite bleach per gallon is presumed safe to consume. Date the jug and identify if “Tap” or “Filtered”, if you choose.
After following frugal steps by using what I have had available to me, I am now comfortable with the amount of potable water we have stored and by using repurposed empty containers it only cost us literally a dime per one hundred gallons.
Thanks for your time in reading this article and remember your neighbors in times of need. A little charity and a gallon of water can go a long way!