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Storing Water - for the hurricane, earthquake, or in case the well runs dry

 
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How would you, or do you, store water at your home or homestead?

In the SE coast of the U.S., there is a hurricane on its way, and I've heard a lot of stores are already out of bottled water. The taps are still running, as far as I know, so let's get some other water storage ideas flowing!

I like the idea of treating this like one of Paul's "bricks", as in keep it simple and focused on one small step or thing.

I know there are a LOT of other things to discuss, and we have threads for that! Such as:
Plastic-free July Challenge
National Preparedness Month
Emergency kit
The Easy Way to Start Prepping (for Non-Preppers)
Not to mention forums on things like wells and springs, rainwater catchment, grey water, and more.

Here's just one, simple and affordable (albeit plastic) solution that would be more temporary, and collapsible for storage when there isn't an imminent threat (that is known, any way):
WaterStorageCube BPA Free Collapsible Water Container with Spigot


With bottled water flying off the shelves in hurricane season, I'm mostly thinking about drinking water, though household water for a few days or week would also include water for some simple washing up, too.

So in a scenario like this, what are your favorite water storage ideas?

 
pollinator
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So have water storage all over the place. We have two 2500 gallon water storage tanks that are fed from our well. Two maybe 1000 gallon water storage tanks that are filled with rain water. A 500 gallon tank underneath my daughter's house, just for emergencies. And I'm in the process of buying and filling 25 gallon tanks that provide thermal mass for my greenhouse, so far I have three.
 
pollinator
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Jocelyn,

I can think of another cheap, easy way to store water (though again, not plastic free).  5 gallon buckets.

Many years ago shortly after our house was built and before we had a meaningful yard, we had a terribly wet March.  We had so much rain that the land subsided around a water main, causing it to sink and break.  It was ironic, we had enormous amounts of water outside, but due to the water main break, we had no water inside the house.

Making things worse, my wife was violently sick and our toddler son wanted nothing more than to go and play in mud.

While we did have some bottled water for drinking, we desperately needed water for washing hands and flushing the toilet.  We eventually placed 5 gallon buckets under downspouts and collected enough gray water to suffice for most of our needs (especially the toilet which was in heavy use).

I would say that if you still have the taps running and can get buckets, you could store quite a bit of water cheaply and easily.  Potentially you could get lids, but I would think that you could cover the buckets with garbage bags just to keep dust out.

These are just my thoughts and if they help, great, but don’t feel compelled by any means.

I hope this helps,

Eric
 
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I buy 55 gal food grade drums at a local brewery for $5 each.  They had some kind of strawberry-smelling syrup in them.  I rinse them a couple times with a hose, put them in the basement, run the hose in the basement window, and fill them.  I have a little pump thing that fits the bung to pump water out into containers that can be carried easily, like quart mason jars, dog bowls, and so on.  2 of these drums full should last the two of us and our animals a long time, for drinking, bathing, animal water, dishes, whatever.  I have a composting toilet that we still use for emergencies so I'm not using water for toilets.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Stacy, your storage tanks sound fantastic! Though likely not exactly what one would set up prior to a hurricane or other short-term crisis. Perhaps really smart to work in to the home resilience planning though.

The 5-gallon buckets certainly are handy, Eric! We put them under down spouts ourselves, then ran that water through a Berkey filter for drinking and cooking, when our well was being repaired.

The 55-gallon food grade drums sounds like an even more robust backup, Trace.

Neat!

For drinking water in glass storage, I was thinking of those gallon (or more) glass jugs from wine or apple juice, or other glass jugs (like a carboy) for those avoiding plastic.


 
Trace Oswald
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Stacy, your storage tanks sound fantastic! Though likely not exactly what one would set up prior to a hurricane or other short-term crisis. Perhaps really smart to work in to the home resilience planning though.

The 5-gallon buckets certainly are handy, Eric! We put them under down spouts ourselves, then ran that water through a Berkey filter for drinking and cooking, when our well was being repaired.

The 55-gallon food grade drums sounds like an even more robust backup, Trace.

Neat!

For drinking water in glass storage, I was thinking of those gallon (or more) glass jugs from wine or apple juice, or other glass jugs (like a carboy) for those avoiding plastic.




I love glass jugs, but they are getting harder and more expensive to find.  I used to buy apple juice in them, but those days are gone now.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Trace Oswald wrote:
I love glass jugs, but they are getting harder and more expensive to find.  I used to buy apple juice in them, but those days are gone now.


We found apple juice in 1 gallon glass jugs recently.

A few other tips from other places:
  • fill the bathtub
  • use (or get) a LifeStraw or SteriPen (I'm not familiar with these)
  • use your solar oven with or without a little burner, or camp stove, etc. to sterilize water that might be questionable


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    Since I personally have never been through an event like this.. I am only going by what I heard from people during Katrina. Most of them were urban folks, and they said that it is very common local knowledge to fill the bathtub and all sinks.

    The water is thus FREE and no other containers are needed.. as well as worrying about things that may fly about the house, like bottles and jugs
    The Bathtub water will last for days especially if you have to await rescue. You can use the water to drink and also use to bathe by doing PTA (Pits , Tits and Ass, with wash rag, water in a basin..then use that water to flush the toilet.)

    Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap goes a long way, and is very refreshing when you can only do the PTA approach to cleaning.

    I would also have a Steri Pen, along with a Life Straw in case things got dicey with water in the after math.
     
    pollinator
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    I grew up during a drought in the eastern US and then spent some good years in places where water supply was.... unpredictable. I have become a water hoarder.
    I have rainwater storage in the garden and in the front yard (old olive curing barrels made of plastic). These are for purely garden use.
    In the house I have a 500L storage tank in my attic that is hooked to the street water like, which then goes to the toilet, shower, washing machine and kitchen sink. If I need to, I can override these outflows in any configuration I might wish to.
    We also like water from a spring, and plus I'm a brewer, so I have 5? 7? enormous carboys, maybe 23 liters each.
    And then there is a good 150 L on the back porch for washing (stored in plastic jugs), washing dishes, or flushing toilets in case the 500L tank runs dry [which has happened, only once or twice, but I was sure glad I had all this water.]
     
    gardener
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    My method is similar to stacy. I have ruffly 9,000 gallons of rainwater.  Spaced to my needs. 1,000 gallons at the turkeys, 3,000 gallons for the cows, 1,000 at my annual garden, etc.

    I have a still that can distill water from my pond if needed using whatever heat source.


    My well water sucks, but i have 2 of them. They need electricity. I have a generator with enough pull to run 1.

    We have identified areas where a shallow well can be installed at ruffly 10ft deep. Not sure if it is seasonal though.

    I think i can ride through a storm. Even a tornado, which would be more realistic over a hurricane.
     
    gardener
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

    Trace Oswald wrote:
    I love glass jugs, but they are getting harder and more expensive to find.  I used to buy apple juice in them, but those days are gone now.


    We found apple juice in 1 gallon glass jugs recently.



    I have a friend who drinks a lot of the Gallo (not certain of brand, but cheap and red) plonk wine that's sold in roughly one gallon glass jugs with a screw top.  He's given me quite a few, which I like to have for Jack Spirko style small batch brewing projects.
     
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    In an emergency situation if you have a tank type hot water heater it can be a source of potable water
     
    gardener
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    I'm an urban home owner, plus I'm cheap and lazy.
    I looked into collecting rainwater just for flushing toilets and washing clothes, only to realize the storage was going to be to big and costly, never mind electricity for pumping.
    So I reduced my water use with a low flow toilet and high efficiency clothes washer, and was very happy.
    But I cant stop thinking about the challenge of cheap/ easy water storage.

    My (untried)solution is to daisy chain derelict water heaters in a line ahead of my working water heater.
    The water will be constantly renewed, each tank holds 40 gallons or more, and I can play at preheating the water with solar or solid fuel, etc.
    Finding structurally sound water heaters can be a challenge, but I favor gas water heaters, as electrical water heaters are so simple to repair/ maintain, they are usually only discarded due to leaks/ heavy scaling.

    I live in a rather disaster free sort of place, so this project isn't high on my to do list, but I think its a very viable, modular way to automatically store back up water.

     
    Stacy Witscher
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    Got to be honest, William Bronson, I don't think that there is a disaster free sort of place, at least not anymore, if there ever was one.
     
    pollinator
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    Not much for storage, but for daily use the large bleach bottles seem to be about the toughest freebie out there. But it actually takes some dumpster diving at local laundromats to find them lately. Or maybe it's just in the SF Bay area where there are way fewer large (4+) families who would get the large size bleach bottles.  I think they're 1-1/2 gal, but I've never actually checked. I just use them for water on the boat and they last for years of daily handling. And the screw cap seals pretty well and STAYS ON when they're dropped. One thing I've found is that when they start smelling funky, it's always the mouth of the bottle; not only that, it's always the _exterior_ threads that hold the cap on. Also, funky happens a lot quicker when I close the cap tightly; leave it loose or off and the funk doesn't seem to appear, or at least not quickly.

    Regards,
    Rufus
     
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    When I lived in Florida (ten years ago), I remember hearing announcements on the radio around August to prepare for hurricane season and avoid the sold out super market. It seemed to be common sense to fill up the closet with water bottles from August to December.

    I was there for undergrad, so we had plenty of liquor and soda bottles leftover from parties, sometimes "hurricane parties". (*for mild storms only. Please respect nature and obey evacuation orders!) We put them in the freezer to use in the fridge during power outage.

    If a hurricane was incoming, we would put the frozen bottles in our coolers and freeze as many more as we could before the power would go out.

    Many have mentioned filling the tub and sinks. If your washing machine is top loading, you can fill that up too. And if you have a kiddie pool, we would fill up the kiddie pool in our screened-in porch, aka the Florida room.

    Category 4 or above though, and we evacuated to relatives houses (easy when you only have a cat).


    Now we live in a place with water, water everywhere, but I still fill up the tub and washing machine when a typhoon is incoming.
     
    master pollinator
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    I've developed a fairly self reliant homestead. With no county water system on my road when we bought the land, we initially used a small storage tank to store rainwater for household use. Since then we've upgraded. We now store 24,000 gallons in large catchment tanks. Have a pond that holds another 3000 or so. Two 330 gallon ibc totes that supplies the barn and wwoofer cabin. And various small tanks and trashcans around the greenhouses and gardens. These range from 35 gallon trashcans (there are 10) to 55 gallon drums (4 of these so far) to a 150 gallon poly tank. Several 150 gallon stock tanks supply water to the pastures. All this is based upon rain water.

    Our drinking water comes from the county tap, which is a gravity fed system. Since it could be compromised in a disaster, I always maintain a minimum of 12 gallons in the kitchen, in plastic drinking water jugs. Extra back up water is stored in gallon glass jugs which I get from people who love to drink wine in excess. I currently have 35 gallons in glass jugs for long term storage, sealed & stored in the dark. Once a year I empty and refill them. Since this water comes from the county tap, it already has chlorine in it, so it mostly likely still potable even a year later considering it is stored in sealed glass and in the cool barn in total darkness.

    I also have a Sun Oven, so if need be I could use that for sterilization of non-county water.

    I think the farm is prepared.
     
    William Bronson
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    Stacy Witscher wrote:Got to be honest, William Bronson, I don't think that there is a disaster free sort of place, at least not anymore, if there ever was one.



    Good point.
    Although I'm in Cincinnati, always behind on the latest trend,  everything does show up here,  eventually.

    But I need to fix the roof before I expand the backup water supply.
    My emergencies are small "e" to many people,  but they feel huge anyway.
     
    gardener
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    We have a number of the 55 gallon barrels that we fill with rain water, but if it looked like serious trouble was on the way, I would try to clean, sterilize and fill one from our well. For more typical short term back up, we've got 3 of the old fashioned 5 gallon camping water jugs with spigots which are really convenient to use. I like the idea of glass rather than plastic from the health perspective, but since earthquakes are our biggest risk, I'm prepared to expose myself to a little plastic knowing that it doesn't break as easily as glass. I like the idea of the old glass wine carboys. That glass is pretty solid. If I ever manage to get a proper cold cellar, I will plan a spot to hold a couple.
     
    Su Ba
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    William, where I am we could experience earthquakes, lava flows, hurricanes, and tornados. The risk to my farm is pretty low, except for the earthquake. When Mauna Loa eventually erupts, I'll probably get hit by a real big one and lots of aftershocks. My catchments tanks are reinforced, but there is always the risk that they could collapse. Thus the reason I don't put all my eggs in one basket ( or one catchment tank).....i have multiple storage units both large and small.

    One of the main concerns statewide is losing our shipping to the islands. If war were to break out and shipping got disrupted, people in this state would be hurting. Food would run out quickly. That's one of the reasons the hunting community aggressively fights the State when it comes to eradicating the feral livestock. The general populous wants the feral animals to be maintained as an emergency back up food source. While the State has worked for years to totally eradicate them, and have been very successful in the national parks and several state reserves.
     
    Jay Angler
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    Su Ba wrote:

    where I am we could experience earthquakes, lava flows, hurricanes, and tornados.

    This points out what is really important (as do a few more comments later in her post). It's really good for people to look at the geological, environmental history of a location when planning what they need to store and where to store it. For example, despite being on an island and in an earthquake zone, my particular property is not at high risk from a tsunami. If I was in that sort of a risk area, I would be begging my friend who lives a kilometer higher up than me, for a corner of her basement for emergency food and water storage. If your water storage is for an emergency, please think of how to make sure it will still be there and be safe when you actually need it. If that means building an elevated cache to cope with flooding, a reinforced bunker for tornado, or simply a solid, animal-proof shed in case your crappy 1970's house collapses in an earthquake, think of possible scenarios and do your best to act with those in mind. If your main risk is simply a power outage leaving your pump non-functional, where you store that extra water is far less of a concern.
     
    Eric Hanson
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    I had another thought for cheap and easy gray water storage.

    If you need to save a bunch of water right now, perhaps you could buy some new garbage cans and fill them from the tap. You might want to clean them out first, but a simple 30 gallon garbage can (plastic) would hold a lot of water for a low price.  You might even drink the water if you boiled it first.

    Just a thought,

    Eric
     
    Su Ba
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    Eric, personally I wouldn't drink the water stored in a trashcans except if I were dying of thirst. Chemicals leech out of the plastic and into the water. But if you line the trashcans with food grade plastic bags, then it would be much safer for drinking.

    Another little tidbit for people who are storing water......use food safe hoses for transferring water. Regular garden hoses can leech chemicals especially as they age and if they have laid out in the sun. There are safe drinking water hoses available for sale. Our local Ace Hardware carries them.
     
    Eric Hanson
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    Su,

    The food grade bags are a really good idea, I am glad that you thought of it and added it into the discussion.  You are right about being hesitant to drink that water (which was why I suggested boiling first), but the bags are even better.  Mostly I was thinking about using this water for non-food uses (think washing, flushing toilets, etc.).

    Eric
     
    Jay Angler
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    Su Ba wrote:

    Regular garden hoses can leech chemicals especially as they age and if they have laid out in the sun.

    This is a good and valid reason for making sure you own a "food grade" hose, but in an emergency, putting fresh water through your hose for a minute or so, and then filling your containers as quickly as possible will reduce the risk. Drinking potentially bacterially/virally contaminated water kills or sickens many people in emergency situations, so the long term threat from the hose is the lessor evil in my mind. To me it's more important to be storing the water in a food grade container, out of the sun, than risking a little during the filling.
     
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    If I know something like this is coming, I'll fill the bathtub, and a bucket, to keep in the bathroom, so we at least have water for flushing the toilet. If I have enough time to do a thorough scrub of the bathtub, I'll do that, then fill it - giving water for washing, too.(As much as I love a bath, our shower uses less water, so that's what I use most).
     
    gardener
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    Good replies so far. I would like to add a few things that haven't been mentioned. One is for people with multiple levels on their house. In the event of a water outage the water in the upper pipes can be drained to a lower level faucet. Put a collection bottle or bucket under a downstairs faucet. Open all the upstairs faucets, then open the downstairs faucet to fill the bottle or bucket. I keep a dozen or so gallons of potable water in bottles at all times plus some larger outdoor containers for rain water collection. I live within walking distance to a river. That would be a huge factor in a long term situation. We also have a cow pond that could be used if absolutely necessary. Eeew that sure wouldn't be fun.

    I much prefer the Sawyer Squeeze over the steri pens & lifestraws. No moving parts or batteries & very flexible in how they are used. I have a lifestraw & few other filtration devices but use the Squeezes extensively. They work very well & are almost unbreakable.

    SODIS is an excellent technique to know.
     
    Jay Angler
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    Mike Barkley wrote:

    SODIS is an excellent technique to know.

    I've read about this technique and I realize that in poor countries it's a big improvement over drinking contaminated water, but would clear glass bottles do the same thing? Something narrow like wine bottles perhaps? I'm not keen on drinking out of heated, solar exposed plastic if there's an alternative that would do the job. They would have to be set up on a bit of a slope so the lid can be just loose enough to cope with pressure changes, I'd expect, since glass isn't flexible like the plastic is.

    I'm not sure that we'd have enough sun to make this work in the winter where I am, but in the winter we'd have the option of boiling over a wood fire. In the summer, the fire risk is too great.
     
    Mike Barkley
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    Yes, I noticed that particular article mentioned using plastic. Glass works too. The main thing is it needs to be clear.
     
    pollinator
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    It's been mentioned above briefly, but people get a Life Straw household system, it's a clever hanging filter system you can use anywhere and add contaminated water at the top and it comes out squeeky clean. It can go for years. It's used in Africa in places where people boil water from contaminated wells every day, it reduces the need for fire wood and therefor CO2 output and reduces the workload on the women. When i bought mine, one would go to a family in Africa, i don't know if that's still the case.
    There is a drought going on here and there is talk of the water being cut off, which could lead to fights over waterbottles in the supermarket. People are quite hotheaded here and are talking stocking up ammunition because they expect fights. I hope it is all hot air, but if things turn sour i don't have to go out and risk getting involved because i've bought my life straw set up and have water stored, which i will dish out and be a HERO..
    The wells around the village still have water, i've ordered a well pump and we're going to use well water for watering gardens soon. It will be better for the supply lines of the wells which are small crevices in the rocks which tend to get full of sand and clay and debris if the well is not used.
    People are thinking here about stocking water for the first time in a long time. The government made having dams impossibe. Making people fill in dossiers as thick as a fist." You can have your dam, after you're retired" kind of mentality. The government wants the water that could easily help the village being self sustainable water wise to run to the ocean. It is utter insanity.
     
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    So water storage and preparedness in general needs to start years in advance not days before a hurricane might hit. And why would one worry about millions of people moving to or already living in the coastal waters of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas?  How much responsibility do prepared folks have to the mass number of sheep who are so unprepared?  Just wondering.
     
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    Eric Hanson wrote:Jocelyn,

    I can think of another cheap, easy way to store water (though again, not plastic free).  5 gallon buckets. ...

    I would say that if you still have the taps running and can get buckets, you could store quite a bit of water cheaply and easily.  Potentially you could get lids, but I would think that you could cover the buckets with garbage bags just to keep dust out.



    Firehouse Subs sells their used pickle buckets for $2 each, with all proceeds being donating to help firefighters. Although you have to deal with the pickle smell, these buckets come with gaskets and removable, resealable lids, and they are good strong 5-gallon buckets. They are fire-engine red, if that's helpful to anyone. Sure, you can get free buckets, but I think sending a little toward those heroic firefighters is worth it...and you just can't beat the utility of these buckets.



     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    I love all the ideas here - from the simple to more complex!!

    I really like the idea that we could encourage folks to take a simple step - using refillable containers - instead of buying bottled water. That's why I started this thread and attempted to keep it fairly simple, for the most part.

    A pickle bucket with a gasketed lid for two bucks is a steal! That's the kind of thing I'm talking about!

    The SODIS method, and Sawyer Straw are new ones to me, too, so those are awesome tips as well.

    I think that if we judge people for not prepping earlier, or not prepping as some of us would prep, we are prone to driving them away. I'm thinking along the lines of how Paul describes different levels of knowledge, interest and application of ideas in his wheaton eco scale; a similar scale could be used for prepping.

    Some people ramp up to doing advanced permaculture, or advanced prepping, right way. Some people do a simple baby step and that's as far as they can go. For reasons. And those reasons are some times not so easy to change as a casual observer might think. So I like giving people the latitude to be who they are, where they are, and know that I'm not going to change them.

    So....my goal is to just offer a baby step. A simple idea. And only offer it if someone is open to suggestions. (At least I try to do that. Often, I fail at remembering where folks are at and how much to offer. I'm so used to teaching newbies here at wheaton labs, that I forget and keep teaching to those who don't want to be taught! Ha. I don't recommend doing that. )

    Some times the way it's presented matters, too. I've heard that some folks are afraid of eating produce straight out of the ground because it's not "clean." Though they buy produce at the supermarket. There is a bit of a disconnect.

    Along those lines, I think we have people buying bottled water because it's "safe" and they are not certain that storing tap water would be as safe. What could we say to folks about that, in a simple way?

     
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    We haven't yet prepared for natural disaster: ours would be fiire or earthquake. We do prepare for frozen pipes... There is one spot we haven't fixed and won't. We fill about five gallons of plastic dispensers for drinking water and several five gallon buckets for flushing. We use baby wipes for sink baths. (At least up to now. Until very recently we bought wipes by the case, for a disabled family member. While they're not eco friendly, they are convenient and store for many months.) We also fill large pots, such as canners, to heat for washing pans, and use paper plates and plastic ware. Our climate is mild and six days was the longest we had frozen pipes. That strategy wouldn't work long term.

    April to October the gravity fed Irrigation water runs. If the pipes don't break, that could be a source of water. Some winters there has been enough snow on the ground that we've melted that n buckets for flushing. Again, this is adequate for short term temporary inconveniences. We'd be hurting in a regional disaster.
     
    Jay Angler
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

    Along those lines, I think we have people buying bottled water because it's "safe" and they are not certain that storing tap water would be as safe. What could we say to folks about that, in a simple way?

    This is a concern. If you think in terms of home processing food, failure to follow traditional methods such as putting hot food in sterilized bottles and then boiling water bathing them for the required time, can make you sick.

    That said, there are public drinking sources that are very reliably safe, and there are some spectacular failures that have been publicly dissected in the last decade. I've also read reliable reports of "bottled water" being nothing but local tape water sealed into a bottle.

    One simple way to ensure your stored water is not contaminated with micro-organisms is to add bleach: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/emergency/09_202278-B_Make_Water_Safe_Flyer_508.pdf
    This is from our local government and is designed for after the disaster struck. I'm sure that I've heard of adding less bleach if you are confident that the water meets drinking standards but are planning to store it for a length of time. Make sure you're starting with a clean container. I prefer not to drink chlorinated water, (I'm on a good well), but I'm quite prepared to make exceptions to keep myself safe in an emergency.

    This brings up another issue though. Many people who are living in apartments or have other restricted space issues may think that storing food/water for emergencies is a great idea but feel they don't have the space. I'd suggest that 4 20 liter (~5 gallon) clean sealed buckets of water with 3-4 layers of corrugated cardboard on top and a pretty cloth thrown over the works would make a fine bed-side table! Shorter 10 liter buckets with some padding under the cloth, could make some food storage stools, so you could have an energy bar with your water!
     
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    I didn't see this mentioned, but if you have empty canning jars, you can store water in them until you are ready to use them for canning. A box of 12 quart jars equals 3 gallons of water, and doesn't take up any extra space.
     
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    A couple things not explicitly mentioned yet:

    For filtration to potable water, a ceramic drip filter setup with appropriate filter "candles" (that's what they're usually called). I used one for some years in Hawai'i to filter my catchment water for potable use.
    There are various brands, someone mentioned Berkey which is just one of various, they all do the same thing.
    Different filter candles for different needs, e.g. biological contaminants (straight up ceramic filter element) vs. organic chemical contaminants (usually carbon is part of these filter elements). Combo elements, and more exotic elements for more exotic contaminants, are available.
    Filter canister setups come in HDPE and stainless steel.

    Main thing is these are gravity powered, no pressure water needed, and no moving parts. With the right filters they will filter pretty much anything that might be a risk to human consumption.

    For the lowest tech version of these, check out (and support :-) Potters for Peace, ceramic water filter project: https://pottersforpeace.org/

    For flexible collapsible long term potable water storage check out Smart Bottle products: https://smartbottleinc.com/
    No I don't get any kickbacks for this, they are just the best I've found by far for durability, storability (full or empty), and BPA and vinyl chloride free.

    Store potable water in the dark, if nobody mentioned that yet. Sunlight feeds living organism growth.

    Last but not least, cheap compact emergency or outdoors/camping purification of non-potable to potable can be done like this:
    Keep on hand some 2% tincture of iodine (any drugstore, a couple bucks for a small plastic bottle, get a plastic eyedropper too).
    Six drops per liter/quart.
    Shake to disperse the iodine.
    Leak some back out through the cap or spigot (in case nasties are hiding in those few drops that linger there).
    Give 30 minutes contact time before drinking.

    There is a slight taste from the iodine, which can be neutralized by adding a pinch of ascorbic acid ("vitamin C") powder ONLY AFTER the full contact time.
    Or any ascorbic-acid-rich flavor powder like EmergenC, etc.
    And of course you can use any drink flavoring stuff you like, herbal teas or commercial mixes or whatever, ONLY AFTER the full contact time.

    YMMV with "food grade" plastic liners. If they are vinyl chloride based, especially.
    Vinyl chloride is one of the most toxic material in manufacture and disposal that humans make. I cringe every time I see some alleged permie mention making something with PVC pipe, or anything PVC.
    The least expensive "food grade" tank liners are PVC. If it smells like those cheap plastic shower curtains, that's the vinyl chloride you're smelling.
    The softer the PVC, the greater the leaching.

    If you unavoidably need a flexible potable grade liner, get EPDM, or if that's just completely out of price range, get LDPE.
     
    Jay Angler
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    Denis Spencer wrote:

    A box of 12 quart jars equals 3 gallons of water, and doesn't take up any extra space.

    If contamination was a serious concern, is there any reason those jars of water couldn't go through a boiling water bath, so they'd actually be sealed? If you started with hot water and sterile jars, I'd imagine 35 min would do the job. Unfortunately, I suspect that the 1.5 liter and 2 liter jars are too expensive and hard to find to be worth going that route.
     
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    Jay Angler:. Yes, you can sterilize water in jars, but if you have clean water, you don't need to -- just fill them with clean water.

    Try to avoid using regular garden hoses to deliver drinking water; these aren't the rubber hoses of the 50s and 60s.  The cheap-junk hoses of today contain contaminants that you don't want to ingest, and they also usually have a liner of webbing that holds bacteria, mold and occasional bugs.  If you must use your garden hose, be sure to flush out the water that has been standing in it.

    The best hoses to use are RV hoses, designed and certified for safe drinking water delivery.  They are usually about ten feet long, so you might have to buy several.  They are specifically colored white or blue. Keep them out of sunlight so they will last longer, and plug the ends, or store them in plastic bags after using, once they're dry inside.

    Many people are afraid of rainwater, due to our American fear-mongering society.  Rainwater, collected on a clean surface and collected in clean containers, is perfectly safe to drink without treatment.

    "Acid Rain" is not toxic or harmful to drink.  It acidifies soil, and it can damage certain kinds of stones, metals and man-made materials.  Acid rain has a low pH (acidic) of 4.0.  Lemonade, blueberries, grapefruit and plums have a lower pH than 4.  Nearly all colas and other fuzzy drinks, some beers, and most sports and energy drinks have a pH of less than 4.

    The first 15-20 minutes of rainfall will 'wash' most industrial contaminants out of the air, and will also wash most fresh debris off your roof.  Climb up and check your roof occasionally (and before an anticipated disaster).  There will be fewer contaminants than you expect. If you see some bird droppings near your roof peak, install a few eye-bolts along/above the the peak, run a thin wire through them, and fasten it so it's taut; birds won't perch on thin wires.

    You haven't cleaned your metal roof for maybe ten years?  Pre-disaster might be a good time.

    Check the roof for mammal access and fix it so they can't get up there.  Prune overhanging tree limbs and vegetation to discourage birds, or simply don't collect rainfall from that part of the roof.  (I mentioned this to a neighbor, and she asked why that would prevent contamination.  I pointed out that water runs downhill, not crosswise.  "Oh.  Yeah.")

    Asphalt roofs aren't the best for water collection, due to their chemical makeup (new ones are probably worse than old ones).  

    Consider buying a few sheets of metal/baked enamel roofing (average 10 ft x 38") from a roofing supply store (not a roofing contractor) and make some short, tilted frames of 2x4s, maybe 3 ft high at one end and 2 ft at the other (with an overhanging lip), and set a clean bucket under the low end.  Fit some window screening over the buckets and fasten with a metal ring snap-clamp (I forgot what they're called).  THESE ARE NOT WIND-RESISTANT, so store them accordingly.

    Texas has the most comprehensive source of information that I've found -- Google TEXAS RAINWATER HARVESTING.

    If you do have the need to chlorinate your drinking water, stir it in at the advised rate (more is NOT better), let sit, uncovered, for 24 hours while stirring occasionally, to let the chlorine offgas.



     
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    My family's approach, in an area prone to 2-4 day power outages was to have a bunch of empty plastic 2 L juice jugs on the table. We filled them if there was a storm, or filled them from the tap the moment the power went out, before anyone flushed it from the lines. For flushing water, we (usually I!) carried pails from the river in the warm season, and had a rainbarrel full of water indoors all winter for watering houseplants, next to the woodstove, filled by shovel with snow and allowed to melt. If it lasted more than a day or two, dad would go through the bother of starting the generator to run the pump/refridgerator, i guess in an apocolypse situation where we ran out of gas we could have boiled water on the stove.  

    Even living in the city, if there is a big storm coming my way or if the power flickers off, I fill the tub with hot water and a jug or two with water.... it gives me water in case of emergencies and the heat from the bathtub water will keep the apartment warm longer. I now own a camping gravity water filter .... it could be used instead of boiling to get clean water from surface water.
     
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