All of the top end water filtration equipment in the world means absolutely nothing without dependable water sources. Our basic water storage objective is to have at least 2 weeks reserve of potable & non-potable water to aid your family through most disaster scenarios. As you have learned it may be difficult to store hundreds of gallons of water and could easily find yourself in a pickle needing more water than you can store.
In many cases all you need to do is turn on your water tap. In several disaster scenarios your water may need filtration and purification before drinking but at least you and your family do not have to search for an alternate water source. Under terrible circumstances however foraging for water may be your only option. Your local water source may have been severed, contaminated or facing shortage. If you had to look for an alternate water source how would you find one?
River, Lake, Pond or Spring
First you should presume that this new found water source no matter how clear it appears should be considered contaminated. These fresh sources can be used for potable and nonpotable needs but must be purified first.A primitive filter such as a handkerchief or coffee filter may be needed initially if visible particulates such as dirt or twigs are present and in need of filtration.
NEVER drink sea water unless purification is doubled with a desalination device. Dehydration will ensue and can lead to your death.
Hot water heater
Your home’s hot water heater is a great source of instant potable water. This can serve you as an instant emergency stockpile, giving you a decent share (75 gallons plus) of emergency water. The water can be drained out of the bottom of the tank through a built in spigot. If you are unfamiliar with your home’s hot water heater it would make sense to practice tapping into your tanks supply so if anything were to happen you would know what needs to be done.
Draining your hot water tank
- Shut down the power or gas to the water heater
- Shut off the incoming water
- Attach one end of a garden hose to the spigot. Given gravity in effect, make sure the other end of the hose is in a bucket below the level of your tanks spigot.
- Turn on a hot water faucet in your home and open the pressure relief valve.
- Open the spigot and collect your water.
Believe it or not a toilet (not the bowl of course) tank can be used so long as you purify the water first. The water coming in while potable may gather bacteria and collect rust directly from lack of cleaning the tank properly. Ensure the water is purified for a stock of potable water. The average tank holds between 2 and 7 gallons of water.
Even the water directly in your pipes can be drained and accessed if need be if the water authority were to ever shut off the incoming water to your home. The problem of water draining out of your home first must be addressed so you don’t lose the water already in your home. To do this you must install an anti-siphon water valve on the main water line. This anti siphon valve automatically closes when the water pressure becomes too low, trapping what ever water is left safely in your home’s pipes.
Waterbed / Swimming pool
A pool is an excellent source of secondary water. So is a waterbed. The NSF however lists these sources to be non-potable due to the high level of chemicals and organic contaminates that may be present. To date no method has been proven to make this water 100% safe to drink.
Under certain circumstances you may be completely out of water stock and exhausted all resources. When this happens you may have to rely on your environment and extract water from it. This is a term labeled to many as “natural collection”. Natural collection is usually considered a last resort and many of its methods are difficult to master.
Rain water is a fine source of natural water. It is not always available unfortunately so don’t squander a chance to collect it if you are in need. Rain is as unpredictable as any other aspect of the weather and your average rain per rainfall is less than an inch per instance.
In order to collect a lot of water in one rainfall you need a large enough surface area to safely gather it all in. To put things into perspective if you were to place a 4 foot in diameter kiddie pool out to collect rain water (with an average rainfall of 1”) you would yield 9 gallons of water, not too shabby.
Another very common method in collecting rain water is a rain barrel. You have probably seen these before. The concept is simple. Place buckets or barrels underneath your gutter systems downspout. Your house then does the work for you. Not only does this aid in collecting rain water but may also stave off a potential flood in your yard. I would personally prefer a metal roof over a shingled one if rain collection were a large part of my preps.
Another method is to hang sheets outside your home’s windows or on clotheslines. After they are fully saturated bring them in and wring them out to gather water.
Another option would be to use a solid waterproof tarp to collect rain water. Form your tarp in a slight V shape while sloping down towards an open container to catch it. If you are using a 11’ x 20’ tarp a 1” rainfall would yield 120 gallons of rainwater, considerably better. You should have your tarp secured to the point where heavy winds won’t disrupt your rain collection as well as a container heavy enough to not be compromised from the elements. If the tarp faces into the wind not only will you collect the rainfall but also gather rain being blown into the tarp surface.
Use universal purification precautions. All rainwater collected no matter the method should be purified before drinking.
If you have a large enough garden, or live in the wilderness, enough dew can be collected off of the vegetation (early morning or after a rainfall) to make this process of natural collection worth practicing. You simply drag absorbent materials across the surface of your plants. After the material is saturated you wring your water out and into a storage container. The concept is similar to the bedsheet method. While results may be ample and the process easy and inexpensive, it is time consuming.
The greenhouse effect. Using a transpiration (large, clear) bag to collect water can be an effective method in natural collection. Fasten your bad over the green foliage of your plant. The goal is to seal an air tight bag around the base sealing off as much of the foliage as possible. This may be difficult so placing a cloth around the opening of the bag may help act as a seal of sorts. The bag creates a greenhouse effect as the plant releases water vapor. The water vapor then condenses and pools to the bottom of your bag.
This should be a last resort. Not only can you harm or kill your plant but methods of this nature do not yield a lot of water. There are several variables to consider which may hinder your yield such as temperature, humidity, plant type and even moisture of the soil.
Not only is this the most complicated method but also the most expensive to start up.If done properly a solar still is an excellent choice. Its most shining pro is that the water collected does NOT need to be purified.
In essence it is based off of the greenhouse effect. The 2 most common methods are the pit still and the single sloped box.
The pit still is more common and primitive and consist of a large hole in the ground 3 or 4 feet wide and covered by clear plastic.
A collection container is placed in the center of your pit and then a water source such as non potable water, shrouded vegetation or even urine is placed around the container.
A weight is placed on the tarp to create an inverted apex centered directly over the collection container.
From there you gather your water or even drink it in place from an extended straw!
The single sloped still is a sealed box with a dirty water inlet, fresh water outlet as well as a insulated lining and sloped clear glass or plastic above.
These methods are a bit more complex than the others. The idea of nature purifying the water how ever may make it worth it for some.
It is hard work to construct and may take some fine tuning but after it is all said and done there really isn’t a price you can put on the final product and knowledge earned alongside it.