Water Source & Storage is Critical (Level 3 Preparedness)

“Prepping and Preparedness 3” is a level of being prepared for up to 1 year.

Check the series overview (linked below) for my logic and reasoning why I split it the way that I did.

Sourcing, Transporting, & Storing Water | #1 Priority

You can store water fairly easily for the time frames of most aftermath scenarios of disruption. Level 1 & Level 2 water preparedness will have you covered for nearly any likely emergency or disaster.

That said, Level 3 preparedness is not ordinary. It’s extraordinary! And I don’t want you to feel that I’m pushing it on you. This is simply for those who are planning for a disaster threshold that exceeds most all “likely to occur” scenarios.

WATER will be arguably the top, or among the top priorities to sort out. And quickly. That’s why you will need to plan for it now. Before a Level 3 event happens. The purpose of this article is to inspire you to think deeply about this priority.

Your Ordinary Water Storage Won’t Be Enough

I don’t care how much water you may have stored. I know that some of you have some pretty big storage tanks. However when we’re talking about a supply that needs to last from months to possibly a year, this is a whole new ball game…

Water consumption will fall into two areas. Drinking & Cooking, and Sanitation & Cleaning.

The typical rule-of-thumb for preparedness has been 1 gallon per day per person for “survival”. Well that’s not going to be enough when we’re talking longer term sustainability!

How Much Water Will You Consume?

Just think about how much water you might consume during a typical day for drinking and cooking. Pretend that there’s no more soda, juice, milk, beer, or anything else to drink in the fridge. What? No beer?! (Well maybe you brew your own – but that’s another story…)

If all you’re going to be drinking is water, it’s going to go faster than you realize. Morning coffee? Each of your meals. Thirsty during the day while working outside? Sweating during the summertime? That one gallon per day guideline is not going to be enough. Just pointing that out.

During a given week, how many times do you cook up some pasta, rice, soup, or ANYTHING which requires water in a pot? Well, add that in to your calculations.

Now here’s where it can get really consuming… Have you ever thought about how much water you use for showering, flushing, and washing? Those requirements aren’t going away… While you will be able to reduce consumption to an extent, you’ll still need to clean yourself, wash dishes and clothes, and use a toilet (more on that later).

Awhile ago I wrote an article surmising how much water we consume on average each day during “ordinary times”. My results were as follows for one person:

Drinking & Cooking: 2 gallons per day
All other uses: 64 gallons per day

The biggest uses were from showering and flushing. Sure you could sponge bath, and you could dig an “outhouse”. Both are not preferable, but may be necessary depending on your location and preparedness. Just saying…

The thing to consider is how much you use during ordinary times, and if you will be able to supply that much water during SHTF times. Some will, some won’t (and will have to drastically alter their consumption habits).

But lets keep on going. Read on…

Sustainable Reliable Water SOURCE!

Realistically, and with all logical certainty, the ONLY way you’re going to survive this is one or more of the following:

  • You have well water AND you have power to your well pump.
  • There is a water source nearby. Close enough to haul significant quantities back and forth to your location on a regular basis.
  • There is enough rainfall in your region and you have rainfall collection systems. Though winter will not work.
  • Your municipal water system is gravity fed (rather than pumped) and you live “down” from the source (unlikely scenario).


Many of us rural folks have a well. This is the ideal scenario! However, if this is you, then you better have a plan for powering your well pump when the grid goes down. Your only other alternative will be having a water source near by.

In my situation I have alternative energy solar with battery storage and inverter. Plenty to power up my well pump. I will be writing on that separately with recommendations (will link it here when completed).

Power requirements will depend on your well (shallow vs deep) and the corresponding ‘horsepower’ (electrical requirements) of the pump.

If you are able to keep your well pump running, you will not be disrupted in any way in the Water category. Though sewer requirements will be another story. Have septic system? No problem. On a municipal sewer system? That’s probably going to be a problem (another article).

Water Source Nearby| Back and Forth from Source to Home

Okay, so you don’t have well water and alternative power to operate it. You better hope that there’s a fresh water source nearby… And when I say nearby I mean as close as possible!

Water is heavy. Round it to 8 pounds a gallon for easy ‘figurin’. Can you imagine hauling a hundred pounds, or several hundred pounds of water each day from your nearest source to back to your location? Well you better (imagine)…

Because that’s what you’ll be doing. Now how are you going to do that? How far away is it? How’s the access?

Are you going to need a motorized vehicle to get it? Does it operate? Do you have fuel for it? How long will that last? Will there be security concerns?

Do you have an appropriate wagon or yard cart with the right wheels to get the job done? What about water storage transport containers? Have enough of them?

Do you have the strength to do this task? Is it uphill (remember, water is HEAVY)?

What are you going to do with it when you get the water back to your location (storage)?

Rainwater Collection

The amount of water that falls from rain is incredible. Barrels of water can be filled rapidly from roof runoff during rain. Here’s an example of the number of gallons vs rainfall:

[ Read: Gallons of Water from Rainwater Collection ]

The issue with rainwater collection from a roof or makeshift arrangement is when it doesn’t rain! And more importantly, when winter comes! If you live North, or where it snows rather than rain in the winter, you won’t make it through unless you have alternate water sources nearby. Running water in a stream or river that doesn’t freeze for example.

But rainwater collection from roof runoff is a viable option for many. You will need to store this water in as large a tank or tanks as feasible.

Rainwater Collection on amzn

Municipal Gravity Fed Water Source

There are two scenarios here. One is that your municipal water tower is able to be replenished from a functioning generator pump. The disaster that has led to Level 3 though may negate this as a possibility. But then again, maybe… Most municipalities will have generator backup for their pumps. The problem will be enough fuel to keep it going for long term. Or, was the disaster such that the generator is no longer functioning?

The other is a municipal water storage situation where the tank itself is gravity fed from a water source higher up. I’m not sure how many of those actually exist. But I’m just pointing it out. Do you know where your town water comes from? (It might be good to discover this).

Water Storage

You have two choices here.

One, you store your ‘bulk’ water in 55 gallon (or whatever big size) drums or tanks. Cold weather zones will need to be kept inside or buried beneath the frost line.

Two, keep a large number of smaller water containers which you continually rotate from storage to transport.

55 Gallon or equivalent Water Storage

These barrels should be Food Grade. There should be a water spigot near the bottom or use a siphon pump fed through the top to access the water when you need it.

If you choose to acquire used food grade barrels, be sure that it wasn’t previously used for foods which you’ll never get that flavor out! In any case, clean them well with bleach-water solution.

Disinfectant Bleach-Water Ratio

Bleach-Water Ratio for Drinking Water

Purpose-made water storage barrels can be purchased from many preparedness-oriented stores too.

55-Gallon Water Storage Barrel

Smaller Containers for Water Storage

It might be convenient if you used something like 5 gallon water containers both for storage AND transportation to and from the water source. But you’ll need enough of them…

Some examples include the following:

7-Gallon Rigid Water Container
(view on amzn)

5-Gallon Samson Stackers

Quality Water Filtration is a MUST

Since water sourcing may be questionable, a quality drinking water filter is a must. A high quality countertop filter such as ANY of the Berkey water filter systems (multiple sizes), is a best choice.

If you’re going to buy one, which you should, then I suggest purchasing from Jeff (The Berkey Guy) at USABerkeyFilters.com, our long time sponsor and authorized US distributor (lifetime warranties).

If You Don’t Have A Well or Water Source Nearby

The majority of the US population rely on municipal water sources. Most people live in suburbia or city regions and will be in a exceedingly difficult situation without a reliable water source nearby.

If that’s you, and if you are planning for Level 3, my advice is as follows. Plan to leave the area and get to another location that’s well thought-out to survive a Level 3 collapse. Because without a fresh water source, you will not survive. Period. And it will happen fast.

Maybe that’s prearranging to move in with “xyz”. Or maybe that’s bugging out to your camp. The point is, you better have a plan…

Continue reading: Water Barrel Storage For Emergency

Is Stored Water Safe After One Year?

Water Sources and Treatment

Drinking Water Storage – How Long in Plastic Containers?

Do You Have A SHTF Water Plan?

The Berkey Water Filter is Expensive – Is it Worth the Money?

[ Read: Preparedness Level 1 – 4 Series Overview ]


  1. Even in areas with high average rain fall droughts occur, we are in one now. A secondary source is good to have and multiple sources best of all.

    1. You betcha…

      Level 3 & 4 preparedness for water requires that we all know WHERE our various sources are located. Rivers, streams, brooks, etc.. Plus having a plan to extract it and transport back. And the plan should presume that there are no functioning motorized vehicles available. Maybe a bicycle with attached bike trailer. Or simply a heavy duty yard wagon.

      1. Ken, first time I have kept a garden going through the summer. 2500 square feet on one garden, provides for two people and excess for trade to elders who cannot garden anymore. 100 degree days. 80 at night, garden dries out from bottom and top. No measurable rain. I calculate I can put 1000 gallons water every two days to keep a water base so the clay will not crack and dry out worse. I have a hand/solarable pump on the well that puts out 3 gallons per minute if your fresh as a daisy for a bit. There is no way I could keep up a garden when I run out of fuel to power the well. Backup is going to have to be solar power or windmill, I do have plenty sunshine and wind. all rain catchment goes to the container garden. Just something else to ponder.

        1. TxDan
          A hack i learned from a dope grower friend,,
          50watt solar panel, car battery or two, 12v pump for a sprayer or a 12v RV pressure pump, Amazon sells all this stuff, use drip, you can put a battery powered timer on the system. The solar powered pump should easily irrigate your garden plot, 2500 sf isnt that big, the lift from your water source is the only limiting factor, however , if you need a 12v lift pump as well, those are also available in Amazon, theres other suppliers as well but good ole Amazon is cheap. So depending on lift situation, you could set this up for a few hundred bucks, well worth it if it will free you to do other task that may be more important,

        2. TXDan, I wish we had enough wind to power my hand pump. I have a Hitzer hand pump and it can also be used as a wind mill pump.

      2. TXDAN in line with water source and storage is water conservation. Clean Planted Rows and paths between gardening requires a lot of water that simply evaporates off. Mulch helps to keep evaporation down and improves the soil over time.

        Even red clay can be improved by mulch over the years. I was taught that in Ridgeway CO by an older neighbor in the 70’s. My soil was brick hard red clay hers was loamy. Just watch out for Roundup straw “Mulch” very hard on our Heirloom Plants.

        Have you looked at drip irrigation and or Ollas to water the plants directly instead of watering the whole surface to include paths and such?

        I found Ollas made from unglazed red clay flower pots very effective to water a cluster of plants around it. I use two 1 Gallon Clay pots glued mouth to mouth with one drainage hole sealed, other for filling. I paint the top fill part white to reduce heat build up and easer to find in the cluster of leaves. This waters 3-4 Tomato plants quite well. They work by osmosis so when the soil around is dry they leak into it, when soil is moist they stop leaking. I use a LONG Funnel so I don’t have to kneel, hard to do at my age.

        No overwatering this way AND I can water every few days instead of daily. Amount tomatoes use depends on rainfall and how much fruiting is going on. At peak fruiting and no rainfall I top off the Ollas daily.

        I am in the process of winterizing my gardens for freezing weather and cleaning the soil mineral build up on the Ollas is needed or they effectively become glazed and not functional.

        Also Keyhole gardening gives you intense succession gardening with limited water. Works pretty well in Sub Saharan Africa to feed villagers there.

        1. Kula, me2,MrsU, thanks for the info. I use purslain and mulch for ground cover, manure tilled in for last 15 years, very friable soil but only 6 inchs deep, all waste goes to compost. When this soil/clay gets in drought it may crack 2 foot wide and 10 foot deep 30-40 foot long. Swallows up top soil and once air gets under the garden it takes 6-8 inches rain to swell it shut. I use drip irrigation but when it gets to cracking only heavy hand watering works. I did this just to see if I could produce year round, the heat stopped most all production on tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers till the temps dropped to below 70 degrees at night. Okra of course did good, container garden did better but did not produce as well even in partial shade. Squash did not produce at all, that’s what I usually trade for.(The only reason people lock their doors around here is to keep someone from putting a sack of squash inside). The time and water was not worth the effort without an occasional rain. I keep smaller, well manured gardens instead of large ones because they are easier to work and I can handle the canning in a timely matter. Have a 3000 gallon concrete storage tank that would be a booger to fill with a hand pump. Just a thought on SHTF event and growing a garden during dry times with no kids for manual labor, as I believe Lauren said gardening was a lot of work.

        2. Interestiing on the soils stuff,,, always interesting. Remamber the heaves in Co with the bentonite clay soils, for me was a whole new thing coming from the soils here in the islands, we just dont get the extremes.
          Check out those 12v hardware pieces, could fill that reserve tank on its own, just need sun, well worth the $ if you can pull it off, is what i have for a setup to get water into my house from our pond if need be

        3. TXDAN

          And other dry land/desert dwellers. Ever wonder what might happen if you were to have the only green space around? We’ll need to garden, and water it to keep it green and growing. Would that be as much a zombie magnet as cooking smells, smoke, or light at night?

        4. Anony Mee
          By the time it comes to that you’d better be owning that real estate and have that perimeter extended out.
          It’s a touchy subject sometimes when you discuss how to go about that.
          The greenery, the water, the food heck even just the fact that their are people there will attract others wanted or unwanted.

        5. me2, I learned the hard way on manure/ mulch. Horse stables paid me to haul off old manure pile. what a gold mine I thought, just had built a house and was putting in a yard. Tilled it in, raked in the seed, went to watering. Nothing. No weeds, no grass. An Extension agent told me that the hay the stables used came from a supplier who used Picloram on the fields and had a long life. Scraped it all off, laid in new soil but it still took 2 years to grow good. Another reason I work smaller gardens is uncontaminated manure in volume is hard to find.

        6. Anony Mee, Matt, as it is now just the power lines to the house tells someone that there is something in there.

  2. Been pretty blessed as far as water resources, on our property or closely nearby.
    Creek, river, ponds.
    They never go dry, although water levels can diminish.
    My concern is filtering said water sources of ALL contaminates. (Dead critters, a human commode, insecticides, pesticides, and a pipeline that crosses the area, etc)
    and yes I have read all articles brought forth on how to ‘clean’ water as drinkable.
    I would like a hand pump at the cabin. I’ve read articles on how to drill your own well with PVC. I can’t run pressurized water to flush the system in this manner. Too far away.
    And too damned tired to dig and dig.

    Too much to do,
    So little time and money, I fear

  3. For up to a year need to also account for gray water, both gained and used and think about storage containers for gray water. Laundry water can be used to mop floors, clean buckets not being used for human consumption water/food, etc. Kitchen sink water can be used to water plants. Cooking water can be used immediately in food, added to pet food, or for plants.

    For a year there’s also water needs of pets, livestock, tank fish, and gardens.

    After looking around at lots of options, above ground swimming pools seem to be most economical per gallon for bulk water storage. They can be placed under downspouts or downspouts piped to them in an outbuilding if freezing solid is a location concern.

    Thanks Ken for starting this series.

  4. Like Joe c, we’ve been blessed. We have a spring that fed the milkhouse. Built back in ’41. The pipe doesn’t reach as far anymore but is only 30 yards from the house. Never had it fail, even during drought years. At its worst, lowest flow, it was still enough to maintain 60 sheep and a llama!

  5. This is a topic in which I and my wife improved once we left California.

    We moved to an area of very high rainfall and we live within 1 mile of a creek that is year round. It has not run dry since we arrived in town almost 10 years ago.

    This state does not allow us to store rainwater in barrels. ( yes, it is Oregon and this law has been challenged in the State Supreme Court.). We use municipal water at the present time. We are preparing for a time when the local water plant goes down.

    Since I started my career in Natural Resources when I was young, Resource management in California was synonymous with water management. The movie that reflects this fact is the movie: Chinatown featuring Jack Nicholson as Jake Geddes as the fact-finding Private Investigator.

    Another good read is Cadillac Desert ( I forgot the name of the author.). California makes it tough on farmers and ranchers in the granting or withholding or water rights.

    If worse comes to worse in my area, we have tarps, string and buckets to collect rainwater beside our fences. We have more buckets in order to bring water back uphill from the local creek 7/8 mile distant.

    Top off this prep with a big Berkey filter and we should be all set.

    1. Calirefugee (and anyone else who has an answer),

      Why a law against collecting rainwater? I know, as a retired LEO, that many of our senseless laws are passed to placate special interest groups. What is the reasoning/logic behind prohibiting rainwater collection? Who pushed for such laws?

      I had a personal rule I followed as a LEO. If a law made no sense, and/or was prohibiting something that I was likely to do myself, I would not enforce it. I would counsel and caution young officers that if something looks as if it should be illegal, it probably is. If it is something you yourself might do under the same circumstances, walk away from it.

      Rainwater collection violations would be one of those laws I would walk away from.

      1. Several places outlaw rainwater collection. Or as in Kolorado they tell you how you can use it and even collect it.
        Nannyism by The People
        As a regular cop you won’t have to enforce it most likely because they have special “resource” enforcement who run around and do it. Most complaints aka snitching come from The People too.
        What will happen as a cop is that you get sucked into it when things go south and The People tell the other group of The People to stick it, it’s my place and I’ll collect whatever I want that falls outta the sky and it gets ugly with threats, violence, liens, warrants and the like.
        That’s how a lot of things worked when I was a cop in my town. That part I don’t miss. Working with good folks on a daily basis I do miss. Them days are gone though.

      2. Dennis- if you collect it for free then they are not getting any money for their ‘share’. Water bills have a tendency to go up a LOT in summer with lawns/gardens etc. There is also the ‘control’ issue.

      3. Part of the problem with the law on collecting water falls on the people that collect it. Its one thing to use water barrels to collect rain water but of course some took it to far and started building ponds and catchments that stopped the rain water from flowing through their neighbors property also. Kind of the equivalent of damning up a stream or river. I personally use 55gl water barrels to catch rain water and am not sure if it is legal in my county or not but I seriously doubt anyone is driving around looking for people doing this.

  6. Just to add a few things:
    Map out and have printed copies available of all water sources.
    Even wells run dry or get contaminated so have a plan.
    IBC totes have garden hose adapters. Set them on 2 high concrete bricks and it’s tall enough to get a bucket under.
    I know where the low spot on my place is and I’ll be sinking a container/tarp there if needed to.

    1. Matt in OK
      “Even wells run dry or get contaminated”
      Yes to both statements.
      Although there only a few fully trained dowsers to my knowledge in the USA that have the ability to replenish a potable water source into a dry well or remove contaminates from a water source. Like all crafts we have rules which must follow. We follow the rule ‘do no harm’ before attempting this procedure.
      We are far and few between. Why? It takes time to hone this skill. Reason I always remind everyone, there are dowsers, then their are “trained” dowsers.

      1. As a level 3 event, if anyone has time to find a class(beginers dowsing) being taught please attend. It will be fun, informative and you may find more ‘like minded’ folks in that grouping. They are the ones who understand life has ups and downs and to be prepared for what may come your way.

        If you are in an area unknown to you and you require water ASAP. They will teach you how to find a above ground potable source, and at the closest distance to where you are at.

    2. Matt
      Not sure how true it is but I have been told NOT to store water containers on brick or concrete as the chemicals from them can leach through the plastic

      1. poorman
        The IBC totes are caged in an aluminum rack so the plastic isn’t sitting on the blocks itself.

        1. poorman
          They tried to outlaw gathering rain into storage containers/tanks, but it was voted down by the citizenry.

  7. Aside from having well water and a pump for our house/personal use, we have a rain cachement system that provides us with a total of 1,350 gallons if everything is topped-off. The 1,000 gallon tank is our ‘safety net’ for water, though it would need to be filtered and then re-filtered through a Berkey. Maybe this winter I will take several water samples from that tank, at different points in our filtering processes, then send them to a lab to check for contaminants.

    We keep water in the 1,000 gallon take year-round and cover the spigot area with an insulated styrofoam box. We have all forms of precipitation during Winter, so adding to the big tank isn’t an issue. A tank of that size would see us through blizzard conditions and the ‘thaw out’ that followed…plus we’d have available snow to melt (we have done that before during a grid-down blizzard before we had that tank).

    We have a creek, and also have an untapped spring head at a nearby pasture, situated about halfway up a small hill. That would be our ‘last resort’, but it would be usable — it’s located about 300 yards from the house. I would not look to neighboring ponds or the large lake due to others needing that water — but those are water sources. I’d hate to have to walk that far with water…

    We spent more than a year being ‘water mules’ — we were each toting 2 5-gallon buckets that were 2/3 filled with water for the goats and rabbits at the barn. Then we got pigs….more water! We did this ‘water mule’ work 3 times a day until we installed our water-pipe system. The distance was about 300 yards and there wasn’t any fun in toting water at all! Even with the handle coverings, it’s tough on hands. I was at a point where I was going to make myself a yoke, so that idea provided the motivation to get my husband into gear to lay the pipe. lol

  8. Hello to everyone.
    My town was 6 months without water and one year without electricity. It is 50 000 town with many high buildings. Septic systems worked all time. It was constructed for use without electricity. In all town areas we had and we still have wells. Water from this wells was not drinkable without boiling. We had trucks with cisterns for water. Many people left the town. They found security and better conditions deep in country. After 6 months limited access for electricity was made. But only for water pumps and for hospital and clinic. After 8 months local industry get electricity. After one year residential buildings get electricity.
    Small town, small problem. Big city, big problem.
    Small farm with the well, no problem at all.
    Anyway you need to boil water before drinking. Or you can use some chemicals to make it safe for drinking.

    1. Veteran, always like your comments. They keep my woes in perspective.

      1. Mrs. U,
        I survived 4 years of war, big flood and anger of my wife! (I can tell you last was the most dangerous) So I am considered to be experienced in some ways. In hard times you can count on family, community and army. All rest will not be there when you need it. It is possible survive with out water from tap but you must be careful. Boil it. Typhoid, cholera, other diseases will be in the water. If you haven’t antibiotics and saline it will be deadly. So boil it.

        1. Veteran, question.. How deep is your private wells? What i am trying to understand is are they surface streams, hand dug with big holes , which are easily contaminated or are these deep wells with smaller bore……good clue is the static water level? I grew up with a dug well and a 4 ft well curb, it was about 38 ft deep. we protected it by putting the toilet facilities well away from the well site.and every 4 months Granny had one of the boys to add a bag of lime to it.. I remember they had to move it one time.

        2. Just Sayin’.
          Community wells are 8 to 25 meters deep. They are made for watering gardens and some of them are not safe for drinking water from . Some houses have wells too. All of these wells have hand pumps.
          Town water supply companie use very deep wells. At least 100 meters or more deep!

  9. We have a 10,000 gallon pool, and a box of pool shock, (chlorine). Studied up on how to make a stock chlorine solution to disinfect water and wrote down the formula. A small pouch of pool shock and the instructions on how to disinfect water should be a great barter item. Always add the chlorine to the water, not the other way around. Also we are 100 yards from an irrigation canal, and a half mile from a river.

  10. Having a pond on our homestead property was one reason we bought it. Swales on the property feed runoff right into it. Many creeks around us also. Added multiple farm tanks to most gutters, and one n the garden (250 gallon each, I think). A dozen 7 gallon square containers line my greenhouse; absorb heat in winter and release at night. More stored around house. Water storage is a major priority. Oh, and check containers occasionally too. I change the water out on Labor Day weekend regardless. Most container water soaks my compost pile and is not wasted. I use my garden wagon to haul them over there. Good exercise!

  11. I would add for those on City utilities that you should be able to check your monthly bills and see the amount of water you used along with electricity. Our shows last month this month and a year ago. Good information to have with your are sizing a system. If this was already posted sorry I didn’t have time to read all the post yet.

  12. For those of you with a well, make or buy (less than $100) a “well bucket” sized for your well and small enough that pulling it up will be possible for whomever uses it. Built my own from PVC pipe, fittings and one way valve purchased at a local hardware. Also built a portable/collapsible tripod that I can put a crank on to haul up the full bucket. All stows neatly in the nearby shed. You will likely need to pull up the submersible pump and piping to make it work, so this would be for a long term issue. Multiple DIY plans can be found on the net.

  13. the main problem i see with this is WE DO HAVE great lakes and the finger lakes in ny state so the main issue i see with that in THOSE areas would be the hauling to other places and the purifying the water

    1. Kevin, The problem, I see, in depending on just those lakes could be the algae that occur and contaminate from time to time. It is my understanding it is very hard to get rid of toxic components of huge algae formations…. in Mid south we do not have this issue.

    1. Tx
      My setup is a sprayer pump, was 45$ a 50 watt panel with charge controller was 65 a 12v deep cycle battery, a roll of PEX tubing from lowes, i think total cost was a hair over 250$ but pumps about 5gpm 200’

        1. Be aware that the pump you referenced will “pull” up to 32 feet. In other words, if intended for pulling water from a well, it won’t work deeper than that. Well pumps are designed to “push” from below. I’ll be writing on this in an upcoming article.

          That said, A simple pump like this is good for all sorts of applications.

        2. Ken,
          I have one of those i use for other stuff,,, my small sprayer pump, when i use it to move water, i mount it on the low side of the pond, so in essence is siphoning then pushing, no load it will do about 5gpm or a little less, over about 200’ of 1/2” PEX tube with a rise of about 20’ at the end of the run, a deep well, i think you would need a special pump for sure, the transfer pump will pull water up out of the pond no prob, have used it to fill my sprayer a few times, will push about 50’ uphill no problem, not sure how far exactly, hose was only 50’ and we were uphill!

        3. I was usingnit to feed my chickens water setup, line pressure is all out of wack on municipal side regardless of whatever regulator i use so was blowing up the watering equipment, finally got sick of it and just made a trough with a float valve

        4. Ken,looking forward to this article have static water of 75 ft… and limited $$$. Have not made the tripod yet for the well bucket system…

        5. Kula, thanks, just ordered the pump. Had not seen this one, I can use it for moving manure tea to the plants so I won’t have to carry buckets.

  14. Check out the Hippo Water Roller for moving water. It was designed for third world countries.

    I have a 300 gallon container for storing water for the greenhouse. I will be using a manual bilge pump to water. Are there any problems with keeping the water a long time? It will be in the sun. The water will come from the greenhouse roof.

    For an indoor handpump I recommend Oasis Pumps in Ohio. It is made from PVC and won’t rust.

    1. Skeezix
      Keeping water for a long time, no problem. It will go stale from lack of oxygen but other wise good to go.

      In regards to the tank for your gardening water, it should be colored in the range of dark green to black. This is in order to prevent algae from growing inside the tank or other nasties that love sunshine in stale water. If you have a white tank you will require a bleach additive to keep algae from growing in there.

      1. Skeezix
        We have white IBC totes and I am making shade covers with the shade cloth sold at the big box stores. There could be the same material on the Amazon site, I have never looked as I required yards++of it for the place.

        1. Antique Collector and skeezix,
          Check out fabric stores. I just bought “sun shade “material for 75percent off now that summer is over. I put it over my back deck. Makes it usable in the summer. Just a thought

  15. For those with the ideal setup and location for a Water Ram, consider getting one. With the correct drop a ram will push water up hill.

    1. Mrs. U,
      They are AWESOME!! But, don’t try to use one in the winter..lol…

  16. Kevin,
    I’m in NY too… 2 problems I see are security when you are getting the water and having to break through ice to get at the water in the winter. Not to mention t-porting it to/from where you are hunkered down…

  17. My location is mid-south and our state does not “own” rain or ground water like the western states; but it is hot in the summer. Because of the heat, we have a multi-tiered system with two wells (electric & hand pump), rain water catchment off the metal roofs and natural spring water on the property. We use 300-gal food grade totes to store water for the animals and the garden where there are no spickets and four 55-gal barrels for emergency washing/flushing usage. We keep about 100-gals of purified drinking water on hand at all times. When our pump died we just had to fill the smaller containers to bring the water to the kitchen and bathrooms until the new pump was installed. We were also able to help our neighbors when their pumps went down.

    1. That’s great Farmmom! “multi-tiered system” – excellent. One is none. Two is one…

  18. Please consider SOLAR powered deep well pumps. They are available. Most are very low volume, around 1 gpm. There are specific requirements for such pumps and the cost $$$.

    Someone earlier mentioned a “well bucket” good plan. All ya need is a foot valve and minimal plumbing skills. Good article Ken.

  19. By the way Ken,
    That is a great picture!
    THAT is the kind of place to want to be.
    Just beautiful.

    1. Not sure where that pic was taken but it could but anywhere around my home. I know some people hate on California due to stupid laws and government but up here in the Sierra Nevada we live in this scene ( and to be honest ignore most of the stupid laws ) everyday.

  20. – I’ve mentioned my hand pump a couple of times. If you want to see what it looks like, watch the Flo-jak videos. Mine cost me about $80 to build; Check out the EMAS pump videos on Vimeo, they are in both English and Spanish.

    These are a lot cheaper than the commercial ones, plus if you build your own, you will be able to repair it if it breaks. Teaching someone else how to build one should be a barterable skill.

    Should my well go dry/get contaminated, I have several large tarps and T-posts. I can use them to fill the 10,000 gallon tank I mentioned before, if I must. There are at least six other wells within half-a-mile of my house, if they are usable.

    We have two lakes at about a mile; two creeks at about 12 and 15 miles. I have both bicycles and trailers, and multiple buckets to load them. I also have a metal wagon which will hold 6 five-gallon buckets.

    Our current roof is composition; our plans are to change to a metal roof and add gutters when we can. I do wish our rainfall were more reliable.

    Worst comes to worse, we have four potential bug-out locations at 60, 150, 280 and 500 miles where we have been told we are welcome. All different directions.

    – Papa S.

  21. Waay back in the day every homestead around here had a windmill pump. Obviously it isn’t an opsec method and the pump, pump motor and pump rods aren’t common anymore. Anyone have a source for a more modern windmill pump and motor setup? No solar or generator required only wind and not too much of that.

    1. Deep South, when we were kids running around in the white brush in the lower country we would take the wrong cow trail and get lost, the ground was hot and we were traveling fast to get to the next shade . The sound or the sight of a windmill would put us on the right trail, also was our swimming pool. I am probably going to drill another well just to put a windmill on it even if just to remember the good ol’ days.

    2. – Deep South,
      Look up Aermotor in San Angelo, Texas
      – Papa S.

  22. Aermotor windmill are built in San Angelo Texas. Family has been in the water well business for over 80 years and these are the best.

  23. IBC totes are stackable units, which can be link together for greater storage of water. As someone mentioned, IF you purchase one, or given one make sure what was inside of it. Some are food grade quality others are not, FYI.
    West coast the cost runs around $130 for food grade, non food grade are $80 for same unit size.
    In searching for a better price that can only be found on the east coast they run about $35 each.

  24. I am so jealous of all of ya all that have alternate water sources close by. My nearest is about 20 miles away. While I have a great well, my hubby isn’t interested in prepping at all so no manual pump on the well. I do collect rainwater in a couple of totes for flushing and store drinking water ,but it feels so woefully inadequate.
    I may just bite the bullet and call the well man and have him install it . I’d rather say sorry than ask permission lol.
    Papa, how do ya keep the 10,000 gallons clean? Do ya boil it or just Berkey it?

    1. – Mad Fab,
      It’s just gonna depend on what fuel I have available. If I have lots of wood, boiling is a possibility. I do have a “Granny Clampett” iron wash kettle (admittedly, mine is normal size, not the behemoth the TV people found!) and its iron stand. Biggest problem I have is what the kids drag into it. A cover would help a lot, and is probably the ultimate fate of one of my big tarps.
      – Papa

      1. – How deep is the static water level in your well? The hand pump I mentioned above will pull up to 60 meters (call it 188 feet or thereabouts) and is just made from 1/2″ and 1″ PVC pipe for the most part. Only about 6′ of it is 1/2″ galvanized pipe, and the instructions to build it are available online. You might check it out.
        – Papa

        1. – Here is a link to a seven page printable PDF for the EMAS hand pumps like mine. You could just print it out and keep it in a folder, if you just have the other bits and pieces stored somewhere. There is a materials list for a 6 meter (20-foot) pump at the end.


          You can add the three w’s at the front. This is an older version.The videos show easier ways to make the two valves, but the one shown will work. Estimates are that this type of pump, used for a family or small group, will last up to 20 years or more, without needing repair or refurbishing. That’s a lot of water.

          Other videos show how to drill a narrow bored well by hand (it will work with as little as a 1 1/2″ bore), converting this pump to a windmill, designing irrigation setups for family gardens for this type of well, and other ways to use this pump.

          – Papa

        2. Papa Smurf
          Thank you for this information, I printed it out for our binder. Will see if I can locate the video you mentioned on this set up. It does not show using the bing search engine so will try another one.

  25. Mad Fab
    Have you thought about picking up a IBC tote from one of the local honey producers or fruit canneries? You will have to wash it out,, IF you are in the area which I believe you may be. They can be purchased for east coast pricing last I heard. Then cover then with that outdoor screening material & your dh will never know what is under that tarp 😉😎😂. Just another box for Mad Fab to have for her gardening. It will all our secret–alright?.

    1. AC,
      I LOVE the way you think!! And since he is gone for sometimes up to 2-3 months at a time, I can always say” what r ya talking about baby, I have had those forever. Lol
      Nope can’t lie to him ,but chances are he will never notice.
      That is a wonderful idea. I’m only a couple of hours from canneries in E. Wa.
      Thanks for the idea. Love the fact that folks are so eager to share ideas as opposed to cutting others down for not knowing or not thinking of something. Thanks to all of ya for putting up with this newbie🤗☺️😃


      1. Mad Fab
        Learned about the canneries IBC totes from a phone conversation with OH a few months back.

        Those of us trying to be self reliant need to stick together. My db would say to me are you one of those ‘preppers’? My reply was nope, just trying to be self reliant as possible where we reside. He was city minded, while I & dh are country minded. Apples & Oranges..lol

        1. Antique Collector
          That is my reply to family members who are snarky about what I do. Not that I am very good at prepping but I really try.
          From your comments, wondering if u r in my neck of the woods also?
          Anony Mee is also in touch wit OH and has given me contact info, but he is sooo far above my level I am intimidated to contact. Maybe soon.
          Thanks again for the info☺️

      2. Mad Fab,

        Depending on the diameter & depth of your well, you might also consider a “well bucket” like the one made by Lehman’s (also available on Amazon). It’s a long narrow cylinder attached to a rope than can drop down your well pipe. Will pull up a little less than two gallons the old fashioned way (or build a tripod to help). Their pre-made galvanized one is a little pricey at $80, but you-tube and various other prepper sites show how to DIY with PVC. I think of it as a backup to my backup to my backup. Don’t forget to have enough rope on hand to get to the bottom of your well.

        1. FinallyOuttaCa,
          Thanks for the suggestion. I will still have to have the well man come out and show me what to do
          I am ok at plumbing and can do some electrical, but this well intimidates me. Just need the guy to show me what’s what and where the water level is at, then I can do it myself.
          Thanks again

        2. Mad Fab
          Why does the well intimidate you?
          Depending on the size of your well casing, depth of well and GPM, that information should be on a record somewhere when you bought the property or had the well drilled for the place.

          If you need assistance let Anony Mee know.

  26. I store a one month supply of water for the household. I’m on town water, which is drawn from wells and pumped up into towers. In a long term situation, it would be interesting to see if people prioritize fuel for generators to keep the water flowing for the entire community or if it would devolve into everyone for themselves.

    There are two year-round streams coming down the mountain passes. The confluence of the two is about 500 feet from my house with public access. I have lots of filters and other means of purification, as well as containers and carts for transportation.

    Several folks in town have wells. Water table is 30 feet down. No new wells are allowed. Town needs all new houses to pay the tap fee for revenue. I wonder how long that will last in a long term situation….?

    Town has water rights and encourages everyone to use the acequia for outdoor watering. There are more senior rights downstream. I wonder how long it would be before the downstream folks with senior rights come up and try to enforce them…

    I just finished reading The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. Very good read about a dystopian future and the water wars of the West.

  27. Response to Dennis: law against collecting rainwater was created on a court case back in Eastern OR. a land of big ranches and little rainfall.

    Upstream neighbor decides to build a reservoir in order to water his cattle. Downstream neighbors get upset and decide to sue the upstream neighbor.

    The case goes to the State Capitol ( on the western slope of the Cascades where farms and ranches are small and rainfall is plentiful.). and a law was created stating that: “One cannot store rainwater on your property. It is now against the law within Oregon.”

    Within weeks, those 50 gallon water totes sold at farm supply stores disappear within the Willamette Valley. A classic case of govt. reaction: “there is no reaction like over-reaction.” similar to killing a fly with an 8 lb sledgehammer.

    It would be funny until you read about some people being prosecuted for this issue. ( takes place mostly on the east side of the Cascades in Oregon.).

    In an emergency ( a breakdown in the water treatment plant) , I am pretty sure the authorities and code enforcers would turn a blind eye towards this issue.

    City of Salem, OR had their own water treatment issue several summers ago when there was toxic algae bloom and the city had a do-not-drink water alert going on. Sadly enough, it takes an emergency like that in order to get infrastructure improvements to update water systems that are 50+ years old.

  28. Response to me2 and TXDAN:

    My soil in California had many of the same issues you have. I tended to grow many things in pots both big and small. My yard was surrounded by a big block wall or wood fences so within the yard, I put up shade cloth shades to supplement the shade of an already existing tree in the back yard.

    Like me2 said in his first post, I set up some areas with ollas to distribute water in heavy clay soils and I dug a small pit in the clay soil to place a small pot into after planting seeds or starts. This method allowed the soil temp to remain somewhat constant and controlled the humidity in the potting soil.

    The keyhole garden was permanent and so I chose wine barrels cut in 1/2 for my raised beds because I can tip them over in order to harvest potatoes or redo/replace the soil and root balls within.

    Central California, ollas are used beside newly planted trees in the form of a PVC pipe with holes drilled in the side and filled with larger rocks. There is no or minimal amount of PVC pipe sticking above ground. When it comes time to water the tree, you place the water in the PVC pipe and it percolates into the soil and the roots grow towards the water from the PVC pipe. This method works well in watering plants in a desert environment.

    1. Thanks Calirefugee for the information on the PVC Ollas type irrigation. Not quite the same but reduces evaporation compared to surface watering AND encourages deeper roots for the long term health of the trees. Roots as you know go where the food and water is. Surface water trees and guess where a lot of that root structure IS? A strong wind storm and you will see those shallow roots upended. A really dry summer with out watering and the trees fail.

      I wonder if those PVC “ollas” can be set up retroactively with out killing the trees. I suspect not.

      Keyhole gardens are permanent as they are the compost pile and the raised bed combined. Not a good set up for potatoes. The potato box or your wine barrels work so much better.

      What do you do with the spent earth from your potato wine barrels? I don’t want to refresh it with compost-fertilizer and pass on Nightshade Virus to the next batch of potatoes-peppers-tomatoes. I try to keep a garden log to help remember where I planted nightshades in the past three years to reduce the virus issues.

      Your area needs shade from the sun, mine needs protection from late and early frosts and in general colder growing season issues as well as near drought during the summer. Thus I use tarps in the spring to feed my water storage as to protect my well from running dry during the summer. Learning these things is WHY I and many others on this list encourage everybody to garden even a little to learn those facts. Survival Gardening is far more than a can of survival seeds and tear up my lawn.

  29. Antique Collector
    I bought the property from my parents and my mom doesn’t know where the paperwork is. The have had had the proowy since the 50s. The well was replaced in the 70s and Nothing has been done to it since my dad passed 18 years ago. I’m thinking the pump needs to be looked at and possibly replaced and I don’t know where to start.
    That’s why I think I need a well man. Thanks for the offer. I will get in touch with Anony Mee in the am.
    Thanks AC☺️

    1. MadFab,

      I’ve forgotten where you’re located, somewhere in the PNW? Most states have an agency that requires well reports when new wells are dug, and provide that data online (also a good resource to know where they are in your area). Not sure how far back they might go, but might be worth checking out.

      WA: fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wellconstruction/Map/WCLSWebMap/default.aspx
      OR: oregon.gov/OWRD/programs/GWWL/WCC/Pages/FindaWellLog.aspx

      Or use duckduckgo to search “(name of state) water well report”

      Also do a search on “how a water well works” and you’ll find good articles and you tube videos to get you up to speed before talking to a well guy. Like all professions, there are good ones and bad ones, lol! Try to get a referral from someone in the area about who they would recommend. In my area, we’ve had some real jerks who try to oversell, don’t file required reports, require payments up front & don’t deliver, etc.

      You’ve got this!

  30. Mad Fab.
    My parents had a well put in in 1970. In the fall of 2012 the well was failing. the pipe was breaking… cracking and leaking… we lived 2 tenths mile away and had never had trouble getting water, suddenly we could get little….Their well is very deep. 3 men came out and it took 4 to pull the well the pipe came apart as it came to surface and bent above their heads, the wires was what enabled the well to be pulled.

    I said that to say this… Plan on: when that well is pulled to replace every inch of pipe and every fitting.

    DH and I helped a neighbor pull/replace his 225 deep well pump and pipe. this past summer. it was about 20 y.o.and that pipe was brittle as well. .I do not envy anyone pulling a deep well or replacing that baby.

    AC can help determine the problem , so you know the issue…instead of guessing.

    Parents well went down several times from frog or lizzard getting in the points…keeping a spare set of points on hand is a good thing.

    If you need a well pump get one rated, for depth and from a private source.. like Lowes, not the well company.. will save you about 250-300$ on cost of pump alone.

  31. Finally and Just Saying,
    Thanks for the info. Will check out the websights to see if they have any info. JS, that is exactly what I am afraid of.
    And because I am a woman, worried About the ” well little lady, this is gonna be 3x what it would be if you were a man”.
    Not saying that always happens, but I need to have some idea about what they r saying.
    Can’t wait for Hi by to retire so I can hand over the reins for things like this, lol.
    Thanks again for the info. I will e doi g this this week,nomore putting it off. Gotta have water!!
    Thanks all.
    PS. AC, will contact Anony Mee when she gets back for your help also.
    Man, you guys on here are so wonderful. Wish I could have ya all over for a big BBQ and thank ya in person. Again, THANKS!!!♥️
    MadFab, soon to be well expert lol

    1. Mad Fab
      We had our pump pulled a few years ago, and the crew boss tried that horse pucky with me. Don’t worry little lady we will do as we please & you will pay the bill.
      Requested my neighbor to come over as a back up, they were trying to sell us new electrical wiring, and not a darn thing wrong with the wiring on our well. They were starting to walk all over it after I had asked that they save it. Our neighbor gave them holy &ell, and said they were the worst crew he had ever seen. I said you walk on it again, your boss I will have a nasty discussion on employee behavior. That was the day as a woman remembered to smile & growl at the same time(again). My business perception on how that job was to be preformed was not theirs, and acdh & I were paying the bill. He was just home from a major surgery so he could not assist me.

      Understand the conflicted emotions you are going through. Do you have a neighbor who can be your back up when the crew shows up to pull the pump up out of the well?

      If the pump has not been used in years, you will need a new pump. Size of the motor, GPM it brings to the surface should be on the pump itself. It sounds like this well has not been used in years, so the piping, electrical along with the pump should be replaced.

      Also they will mention a check valve, yes,, there is such a thing. It has to do with the way the water is held in the pipe up to a certain point in the pvc. Rest of the water will drain out of the pvc line, believe it has to do with the weight of the water as a constant pull connecting parts.

      Call different well businesses, ask for referrals. Check on line for ‘yelp’ reviews if there are any for those business. Do your homework on these business before selecting one, then ask a neighbor what they think of company A/B or C. If there is rotten apple in their business the locals will have that knowledge.

      You are going to do fine. Before I forget get price quotes from each well business you will be dealing with on this change out.

      1. Antique Collector,
        The well is used everyday. It is our water source. Just NOTHING has been done to it in forever and I am afraid I’ll turn in the water and have nothing.
        I do have my son and son in-law who could come over, but I HATE to have to, ya know.
        Will definitely check out who’s who at the zoo, before I hire anyone.
        Also Anony Mee gave me your info and u sent ya an email yesterday.
        Thanks again for all your help and support.

        1. Mad Fab
          Will go check for it & get back to you on this matter.

        2. Antique Collector,
          Just sent again. Hope it goes thru.
          Thanks again

        3. Mad Fab,
          this is the best news i have heard.! You are checking it before anything goes wrong and you have no backup. ATTA GIRL!
          When i talked about pulling the well, i would whisper- so it will not hear- and give no trouble til you are ready and have all things in place.LOL
          If that pump is working an no trouble with water i would get tank,, get it set up and filled…
          then get a pump rated for 75-100 ft deeper than this well…and get pipe and all fittings.. and replace it all, keeping working but old pump as a backup..also get all the electronics under the cap, 2 sets of points…( one for replacement and one spare). You will need waterproof tape to secure the wire to the pipe… at intervals… Pipe glue.plus clamps.. for the attachments .
          …Our Friend had to have a special fitting to go between the pump and the pipe, it was an odd size combination.. pump was one size and pipe was another , a single fitting is made for well companies to specific application.
          It is things like this that are known by the professionals….and they may have those parts on their truck for doing these procedures.
          The cost for the company to come out an pull well was astronomical., and they wanted it up front along with 2 service calls minimum… In a community where many by groceries/supplies by the month- it was not a possibility. That well was down 2 weeks..They had no potable water, no backups of own..but swimming pool for toilet flush..

      2. Mad Fab
        We will take this one step at a time.
        If the pump is getting used daily it sounds like it was made by Americans for Americans. Good quality! Yes they do wear out but so far so good.

        Next suggestion would be to purchase above ground water storage holding tank(dark coloring). Depending on the amount of water you use for the household per week. Amounts vary do the number of members in the household a low minimum would be 600 to 1,000 gallons per week(average).

        If you can find a seller for low profile water storage tanks-5,000 gallon for a back up unit would be good for a start. It will have a wider base and shorter height for easy access should you need to climb down inside of the tank while it is empty. This tank can then be plumbed as a back up with a jet pump, so you will have constant pressure into your pressure tank(if pushing up hill/or a long distance). Be sure to place a cheap tarp(H Freight)down first, then fine sand to protect the base from any rocks that could work there way up to damage the bottom of the tank. Sand base should be as level as possible before setting & you have the bottom water tie pointed in the direction you will require.

        This is your back water source should you ever require maintenance, repair or replacement on the well.

  32. – There seems to be a lot of fear and confusion about measuring bored water wells. I talked to my well guy, who grew up with DW and is a personal friend. According to him, this is a perfectly good way to measure your well.

    Pick up a gallon of bleach, a good long new roll of your favorite fishing line, a couple of different size (one fairly large, one small) fishing weights, a large plastic bobber and a plastic ruler. You will also need a 100-foot measuring tape and a socket set. Turn off the power at the box to your well pump.

    Go out and look at your well cap. It may well tell you what size the casing is and save you some of this next step.

    You will need to remove the well cap carefully. Have a bowl or something to put each of the bolts in as you remove it. Once all the bolts are out, lift the cap and set it carefully to the side on a clean piece of paper or cloth. You are trying to keep everything as clean as possible. You may have to have a hammer at hand to tap the cap upwards if it has not been removed for years.

    Once the cap is removed you will see several heavy-duty wires, a pipe and a rope extending down the bore of the casing. For now, just leave them alone. If the cap did not tell you the size of your casing, take your dime-store ruler and measure how far across the inside of the casing is. Write it down somewhere.

    Now get out your fishing line and the big plastic bobber and the small fishing weight. Tie (securely) the weight to the end of your line. Attach the bobber immediately above it.
    Now carefully lower the weight down the well, avoiding as best you can the wires, pipe and rope. Watch the line as you lower it carefully, you are watching for the point where the bobber is sitting on the water and the line goes slack. When you find it, make sure it is actually sitting on the water (often you can pop the bobber up and down and listen to hear the splash below) and mark your line. An over hand knot with a loop in the line will work.

    Pull it out, lay the dry line out straight on the ground while keeping it as clean as possible. Get your 100-foot tape and measure from the marker knot to the bobber. This is your depth to water. Write this down as well.

    Now take your large weight and tie it securely to the end of your line. Put the other weight and the bobber away or at least out of the way. The next step is possibly the hardest. Lower the large weight down the well carefully to measure the total depth of your well. Avoid the wires, pipe and rope as best you can. You are trying to get your weight past the pump, not sitting on top of it.

    Once you are sure you are past all the various obstructions, keep going until your line starts to go slack. Mark your line again, then carefully pull the fishing line and measure from the mark to the weight. This is the total depth of your well. Write this down as well.

    These are the three basic measurements of your well that you will want. There are others, but they are more complicated to calculate.

    Make sure the well is clear, pour the gallon of bleach down the borehole to clean any crud you might have introduced, and carefully replace the cap and bolts. Avoid use of the well for at least 24 hours if you can. When you turn it on, run the outside garden hose for about fifteen minutes or until you cannot smell bleach. Measuring your well is now complete.

    – Papa S.

  33. NRP & Blue, Thanks. You got me thinking. Have been planning to put a pool next to a 40’ container to catch runoff for animal watering should S end up HingTF. 1” of rain on 1,000 sf surface will run off about 620 gallons. So, 320 sf would yield around 200 gallons per inch. Given more than 100 inches a year here, should be ok in this bottomland in the rainforest. Xander and Cookie send their best to Blue.

    1. Anony Me:
      Check the top of the container, it probably has a corrugated roof needing some sort of gutter to divert the water correctly.
      But a good idea for sure.

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