Long-Term Water Supply

Inside Water – In “Water – Parts 1 & 2” we talked about storing potable water. Usually everyone can find enough space to store an emergency 30 day supply of water. But what do you do if your apartment or condo just doesn’t have enough space to store an additional 60 -90 gallons of water to complete a 3 month supply.

If you have a water heater you have 40 to 90 gallons of water storage depending on the size of your water heater. The most common size is 60 gallons which is enough drinking water for 2 people for 1 month.

When an emergency hits, turn off the water valve that goes into your water heater, this will prevent possible contamination of the water heater water. Use the drain valve on the water heater as needed to get your drinking water.

If you have warning that an emergency is headed your way, you can create extra water storage by filling bath tubs and other containers before the storm hits. You can store up to 100 gallons of clean drinking water in your bath tub using a “Water BOB”. The “Water Bob” is a heavy duty bladder that fits into a standard bath tub. A Siphon pump is included to dispense the water into jugs or other containers. At $25, it is a bargain for an extra 100 gallons of drinking water. Here is a link:

In an emergency, after you turn off the valve that goes into your water heater, check to see if you still have water pressure (check the cold water faucet since you have turned off the hot water valve at the water heater). If you still have pressure, fill all your empty bathtubs and every other container you can find.

Use extra 5 gallon buckets, empty trash containers, cardboard boxes with plastic trash can liners. Every gallon of water you collect will reduce what you will have to find, collect and haul back to your house. All of the after emergency water you collect should be consider contaminated and will need to be filtered and treated before you can drink it. The water in the hot water heater is potable as long as you take it directly from the water heater.

As long as you have water pressure continue to collect water from the tap, just make sure you treat it before drinking.

Collecting Outside Water – Start collecting outside water immediately after an emergency hits. Don’t wait until your stored water is gone to start collecting more water. The longer outside water sits after an emergency the more contaminated it will become. When the water stops flowing from the tap, outside water will be your only source of water.

Rain Collection System – Set up a rain collection system before the first rain fall. You’ll be amazed at how much water you can collect from rainfall, even in a desert. We get less than 15 inch of rain a year where I live. Every house roof, garage roof, carport roof or shed roof can be an amazing water collector. I have a regular size house plus 2 storage sheds. One shed is 10’x 12’ the other is 14’ x 16’. Just collecting 60% of the water off of the smallest shed will provide 673 gallons of water per year. The larger shed will yield 1256 gallons of water per year at only a 60% collection rate. Add in the house and you can see that I could collect enough water just from rainfall to sustain my family and I live in a desert.

Here is a link to Rain Water Collection Calculator:

You can build a simple rain collector out of a tarp and a garbage can. Stake out the tarp in an open area. Make sure the middle is lower than the edges. Cut a small hole in the center of the tarp. Place a container under the hole to collect the water. A 12’ x 16’ tarp can collect over 23 gallons of water from a single .25 inch rain shower with only an 80% collection rate.

Other Outside Water – Before an emergency, make note of other outside sources of water. Do you have a hot-tub or swimming pool? Is there a lake, stream, creek or pond nearby? You’ll need to collect water from outside sources and haul it back to your house. If you are hauling by hand, use two 5 gallons buckets with handles. Water is heavy. A full 5 gallon bucket weighs over 40 lbs. If you have to haul by hand, using two buckets, one on each side, will balance the weight and make it easier than using a single bucket. If you have a wheel-barrow, some type of yard cart or wagon, use it.

Once you get the water back to your house, you’ll need some type of bulk storage until you purify it.
Looks like I’ve run long again.

I’ll do “Water – Part 4” and cover Filtering and Purifying.


Ed Rogers

Copyright “Keep It Simple” 2012.  All Rights Reserved.

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