If The Grid Goes Down, How Will You Get Your Water?


Given that there are real risks out there which could bring down the power grid – what will you do to obtain one of the most important life-sustaining supplies – your water?

Recently, Admiral Michael Rogers of U.S. Cyber Command, said the United States has detected malware on U.S. computers that enables the shut down of very segmented, very tailored parts of our infrastructure. A recent report by a cyber-security firm found that hackers were able to penetrate American public utility systems that service everything from power generation, to the movement of water and fuel across the country.

“It is only a matter of the when, not the if, that we are going to see something traumatic.” Rogers said.

While cyber threats are a real and present danger to our infrastructure, other catastrophic events could also take down the power grid such as an EMP attack or X30+ solar flare.

The question is, IF such a terrible event were to take place, one of your highest priorities will be obtaining water. You may not realize it now, but your need for water in a world devoid of electricity will quite rapidly become you highest priority for survival.

So, having said that, here are a few key questions for you to consider.

What is your primary water source? Municipal? Well? Spring? Other?

What are the nearest alternative sources of water to your home? Lake? Stream? River? Pond? Spring? How far away from your home are they?

If the grid goes down, how will you get the water from your source to your home?

What equipment or methods do you have at your disposal to treat and purify water from any alternative source?

How much water can you treat with the equipment or methods that you currently have?

How much water can you store with the storage containers that you have right now?

How much water do you have stored, right now?

If you answer these questions, you will discover your water readiness. Go out and get what you need now, in order to get the water you might need later.

Generally speaking, the most important first step to take is the discovery of alternative water sources nearby. Make a plan how you would get to it (perhaps covertly) and how you would transport it home. Then, figure out how you will treat it. Boiling is best, however you may be lacking fuel or an alternative method to boil it. Figure it out. Get what you need. A good water filter too. Then, store it in proper containment and have what you need to keep a good supply of water at the ready.

I’ve written quite a number of articles about various aspects of water preparedness, and I must continue to occasionally re-post on the issue due to it’s importance. I have a feeling that many people largely ignore their water supply readiness because it’s so readily available for most. But in a major power grid failure, all bets are off.

Remember this – for most, 3 days without water and you’re dead.

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  1. We have a capped well with water that measures a little bit over 400ppm salt. Although it is drinkable, we were told not to do so for long periods of time, and not to use it on our lawn or garden, since the salt would accumulate and eventually sterilize the soil. If SHTF shuts of the municipal supply, I suppose I could pour it through the Big Berkey to drink, and I would use it for general cleaning and laundry. We live in Florida, and so far this year have had a bit over six feet of rain for the year, so water capture is not a big worry.

    Those in metro areas will have a rough go however, since their homes are not on septic and they require city water to survive. I cannot imagine what a city without proper and functioning sewerage would smell like. Also, how long before dysentery, cholera and other diseases take hold and wipe out huge swaths of population? The government doesn’t need to do anything more than close down the grid for a few weeks before the die off begins.

  2. DH & I worked in the northern part of our province for a number of years. We got used to 8-12hr power outages. When we moved back south after retiring I realized that as you get older you have a harder time adjusting to inconveniences. I therefore told DH that there was 2 things I wanted. 1. was a wood burning heater & 2. was a generator. We did purchase these & this process got me to thinking “What else could we need.” Also about this time we began to notice that “incidents” were coming closer & closer together. I started to think about water. We have a 9000 gal. cistern under our basement, a well across the lane from the house & a dugout a stones throw to the west. The later two could be pumped to the house but that would take power & our generator would not have an endless supply of fuel if we had no electricity. If things got really tough & our children and grandchildren all came home that would make 20 of us. That would sure take a lot of water. On investigation I found a hand pump & since we have a shallow well it was purchased & is stored “in case”. At this time I didn’t know anything about “prepping” but had lived a life where you prepared for whatever life threw at you. As I researched more I found several sites (Modern Survival is one of the best) that helped me to prepare more as I had time to see what may be coming down the road. I learned things like bleach doesn’t last forever & so I bought some pool shock. Now I feel more confident about our water supply.

    Ken, I want to thank-you for giving such good advice in short bites & helping me to now feel confident in many areas of surviving what may be around the corner. Have I turned into a prepper? Some might say so but I like to think I am just an average older lady who wants to just get by no matter what nature or man throws around.

    1. Thanks, canadagal. Unfortunately the word “prepper” has a negative connotation for many who don’t get it. I like what you said – it’s just somebody who wants to get by, no matter what nature or man throws at them.

  3. I don’t think you can ever “store” enough water, especially for a long term grid down situation. Our back-up water plan would consist of rain catchment, snow melting, and water hauling. We have a small creek out behind our house, a river about a half mile away, and Lake Superior about a mile away. We have several .02 micron water filters, and a gas stove for boiling.

  4. In Dec of 1999 we had a well sunk 80′ with static water at 30′. We had cast iron pitcher pumps stored just in case the world fell apart the end of that year. Now that it’s looking like it will again, I got to looking for a better way to get water out of the ground. I bought a Handy Pump online. This thing works great! Doesn’t require priming and with 4 strokes, I have clean drinkable water shooting out of it! It is probably our best purchase with the “you’re dead in 3 days without water” reality. We built a wall around it to hide it from the road and built a table with a sink to be able to cook and clean out there. For the money, it’s great security and I would highly recommend it. It was only about $170 and you buy your own pipes to attach to it to drop it a section at the time. There is a good video online on just how to do it and it came with printed instructions too. I can use it year round due to the weep holes drilled in the last pipe, so we’re good to go. No matter how much beans, band aids and bullets you’ve got stored, if you don’t have a reliable clean water source, you’re toast.

  5. Was thinking about getting water. What about out of fire hydrants? Is that good water? Would it still be there if the power goes out? Not real sure how it gets pumped or stays in the system.

  6. I started to tell you to type Handy Pump, but when I did it, it didn’t pull it…it’s under handywellpump.com. They have really added a lot of accessories since I bought mine! I need to accessorize and maybe buy another one…two is one, one is none.

  7. If you have a shallow well you can have a hand pump installed in your house that will work when you lose power. We just did this last month and it works great. This way you don’t have to go outside to retrieve water. I have a video regarding this on my YouTube channel if you are interested.

  8. Saltwater all around and not a drop to drink.
    Big beautiful still in the attic and lots of fire wood.
    Filters don’t work on saltwater only still or desalination pump.
    Whiskey still.net / amazon / build your own.

  9. We have a well, and a generator to hook up to in order to run the pump. Our well is too deep for a traditional hand pump but I am still looking into it. Then we have a brook less than 200′ behind the house, a pond about 150′ from the house. Another stream about 500′ from the house. Another pond less than 1/2 a mile down our road. A water barrel for catching rain water run-off from the roof. Several tarps if needed to catch rain water, and of course a Big Berkey with extra filters to filter it all.

    1. Dear Peanut Gallery … we have a Well also. It is 171 feet deep. I don’t know how deep yours is, but I was able to get a hand pump put in by a Well guy. He made this one, but most Well guys should be able to purchase them. It cost me $900 installed… but to me, SO worth it. NO one will have running water if the grid goes down. Even people on ‘city’ water. On another topic…. everyone should remember that the only way to 100% treat questionable water is to distill it. Boiling and bleaching works for bio-hazards (microorganisms) but not for chemicals, radiation etc. Filters can be great, but need to make sure they are cleanable filters (if you are filtering a lot of water)… regular filters that are non cleanable will at some point ‘back up’ and are not 100% safe. You can buy a distiller, but there are ways to do it at home too. One method I tried recently was to take a large stainless steel pot and put a few inches of contaminated water in it. Then set a fairly ‘tall’ ceramic bowl in the middle of it (empty). Put the pot lid upside down on the pot, so that the handle points down, into the pot. As the water boils, the condensation will drip down into the bowl and you have distilled water. If you think any of the contaminated water splashed in during the process (which happens if the water is too high of a level), repeat the process.

      1. They had to drill down about 500′ for the well. If I remember correctly the static water level is somewhere around 325′. Most people in this area have wells less than 100′. I remember that he hit bedrock around 25′ and it was bedrock the rest of the way, but it is the best tasting water I have ever tasted. We only keep about 5o gallons of stored water as we have so many sources around us. I have also been looking into a distiller as I know that the filters will eventually fail.

        1. Wow! That is the deepest Well I’ve heard of!! Like I said, mine is 171 feet deep, with static water level at 71 feet.

          A Distiller I would recommend is the Survival Still… it is a little pricy, but very nice. Also, the method i mentioned using the Stainless Steel pot and ceramic bowl seems to work well too.

  10. I bought a 12/24 Volt DC well pump from Northern Tool(about $680.oo) & a Class 4D battery from Tractor supply $139.99)sitting on a plastic Boot tray -$12.99. 100 ft 1/2″ black pipe about $20.oo a Heavy duty switch to operate the pump $16.oo (draws 4 amps on 12 volts.)a few fittings to Pex.( 12.oo)

    added a pressure switch $ 14.99 & a 1 gallon expansion tank $ 29.99 & a spigot $5.99.I don’t keep it pressureized all the time, but test it every couple weeks,With the spigot & a washing machine hose(double female)$6.99, I can jump to the existing well if the grid goes down, soon I will add a 45 watt solar panel kit from Harbor freight $149.99 comes with controller to maintain the battery, right now I just charge it monthly with a one amp mini-charger, working fine for a year.

  11. I chose to live in the land of lakes region for this reason. Given many wild food sources and firewood, I am better off than most people for these natural resources. There’s a public artesian well down the road, we have 80″ of snow in winter which has stayed until the first week of May, and there’s a lake behind my property and many pristine lakes surrounding me. In summer I catch water runoff from my roof for washing my hair and watering the garden. And when lights go out often, I also have water storage inside my home, so basically I have no problem with water and one reason I chose to live here.

  12. I have a 35 gallon food grade plastic water can stored here in the house and two 50 gallon plastic containers out side where I capture rain water for the garden. The outside water containers freeze up in the winter so I usually drain them in late November. I also have a dozen gallon jugs of water stored under the sink in the kitchen which have come in handy over the years because our water system in my neighborhood always seems to be out for a day or two at a time due to repairs. I have one neighbor/friend who shows up during these frequent shut offs for a couple of gallons of water and help I him out but boy, does it piss me off and he gets and earful from me everytime.

    I also have a couple cases of bottled water around at any given time.

    If my water supply runs out the I’ll throw the collapsable water bags in to my wheel barrow to the crik about a hundred yards from my home and fill them up and then filter the water for consumption.

    I hope I have my water prepping plan in place and have covered all the bases!

    Best to all!

    Snake Plisken

  13. My house well is 222′ with static water at 40′ (large lake nearby). 3/4 hp electric pump at 200′. Didn’t want a generator – noise attracts too much attention when SHTF. Had my plumber install “The Simple Pump” at 150′. Hand-pumps right into my pressure tank in the cellar and allows me to flush toilets, take (cold) showers, all the water I need for cooking, cleaning & laundry, for one hour of hand pumping per day. Wife and I take 15-minute shifts at night, so as to attract no attention. I had a carpenter build a fake “potting shed” over the well head to conceal the handpump; hinged roof lets me pull the pump(s) if needed to repair. Locked door keeps riff-raff out. Hurricane Sandy saw us with no electricity for 7 days – we had all the water we needed, thanks to the “Simple Pump”.

  14. There have been several comments regarding a distiller. I thought I would mention that I’ve been using the following distiller for about 3 months now, while distilling about 3 gallons of water per day. It was expensive as heck, but I splurged with the notion of drinking the ultimate purified water that you can possibly drink, combined with the Stainless Steel construction and hopeful longevity. It requires electricity, but while the grid is up, I’m okay with it (I could also use it with my alternative energy sources – but I have two Berkey’s as backup).

    Mini-Classic CT Stainless Steel Steam Distiller – Pure Water

    By the way, there are less expensive distillers available!

  15. For some unknown reason, our water(from a 175″ well) started smelling and tasting like sulphur a few days ago. I pulled out the Berkey and started filtering it. It took care of the odor and taste with two white ceramic filters but I was a little concerned about the slowness of it. Three of us kept up with it’s production with just drinking. It would not have been enough water if cooking, coffee, etc. were factored in. I bought several extra filters with it so I will try adding them in the spare holes and try that. Just wanted to emphasize that you may want to test your resources before you truly are depending on them.

    1. John, you bring up a VERY good point about TESTING YOUR RESOURCES. This is true of every category of preparedness – to actually DO IT.

      Hopefully your sulfur smell isn’t an indication of an impending volcanic eruption ;)

      1. When we first moved here we tested the water every year. Results were the same every year. Hard water lots of dissolved minerals, very low turbidity, no organic compounds. After a while I decided it was too expensive to test every year. So instead I set up a 55 gallon fresh water fish tank. I remember reading how aquatic life was sensitive to sudden changes in the water composition. So I kept the tank with fish with semi regular water changes. Two of the fish lived more than 10 years. I figured if the water didn’t kill them, then it was okay for us.

        1. Lots of wells in Florida have high sulphur content. What they used to do is use an aerator tank to settle it out and allow it to off-gas. They were simple concrete block boxes with a pipe in and a pipe out. A little “house” is built on top and screened in to keep out critters. After a few hours the sulphur odors were largely gone.

  16. If you keep ANY plastic buckets, tanks, barrels OUTSIDE in the SUNLIGHT, you MUST protect it from the sun’s UV rays, or it will become BRITTLE and break apart very fast.

    I had a white, plastic, 5 gallon bucket to catch some rain water, and in less than ONE summer,, it shattered.

    Now I put a BLACK plastic garbage bag, or even a garbage can,, over my important (15 gallon) water barrels, jugs, etc. The garbage bags degrade rather quickly,,and need to be replaced. And when I get the money, or FIND somebody’s “cast away” garbage cans,,, I’ll “invert” it on top of my plastic water jugs, etc. Metal cans rust but don’t shatter. Plastic garbage cans, inverted, will hold a bit more “ground heat” in the winter to protect your jugs from “freeze-breakage”.

  17. this could be some worry…

    “‘Special Alert’ issued for major dam upstream of US nuclear plants — Muddy seepage coming up near foundation — Cause of sinkhole and ‘mysterious’ discharges unknown after weeks of analysis — Newspaper: “Hopefully, it isn’t catastrophic” — Officials working around clock, submarines and ground-penetrating radar in use”

    “People who live and run businesses along Boone Lake got warning today that the reservoir would be lowered below normal so engineers can find out what’s causing water and sediment to seep from a riverbank below Boone Dam. According to TVA, the duration of the extended drawdown isn’t known. “

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