Long Term Drinking Water Storage

Water is THE most important resource for survival. Period. We take it for granted that we will always have a supply of water to drink at our disposal. We barely give it a second thought to take precautions, and perhaps store some of it for a SHTF scenario…

I often hear the following questions:

“How long will water last if I store it?”
“How long until water goes bad?”

My short response to that is this:

Water is water, is water.
Water does not go bad in and of itself.

It is the contamination that gets in that can make it go bad.

How long you can store it depends on if it’s contaminated to begin with, or you are letting contaminants get in, or environmental conditions are enabling organic contaminants to ‘grow’ in it.

Drinking Water Storage | Keys to Success

 The key to successfully storing drinking water for long-term storage is this:

1. Start with good pure clean water
2. Use a good clean heavy-duty BPA-free sealed container
3. Store in a good environmentally preferable storage location

Usually the best source is municipal water from your faucet tap at home. It has already been treated with enough chlorine to destroy harmful organic pathogens. The level of chlorine is typically measured at 0.5 – 1 ppm (parts per million) as tested with a swimming pool chlorine test kit.

For long term water storage, you might consider increasing this to 3 – 4 ppm to be assured of a maximum safe level for drinking (according to the EPA) to eliminate and prohibit growth of pathogens.

You can test the chlorine levels with these popular test strips:
Swimming Pool Water Test Strips

“AquaChek” chlorine level cross-reference color chart

Continue reading: Making Drinking Water Safe With Bleach

Bleach-Water Ratio for Drinking Water

How To Store Your Water

A very good way to store your water is in BPA-free heavy duty plastic containers that have been manufactured specifically for water storage. These containers are often colored blue and will be labeled as safe for drinking water. You may also use pretty much any food-grade storage container, but keep a common sense approach to how and what you choose.

Store your long-term drinking water storage containers in a relatively cool place so as to avoid heat which will promote growth of algae, etc. Keep the containers in a dark environment (ideally use opaque containers) because sunlight will speed up the breakdown of chlorine level.

Note that the level of chlorine will decay over time. That’s okay. If the water has been initially decontaminated (e.g. with chlorine) and stored in a sealed container out of direct sun and heat, it’s going to be fine.

5 Gallon Samson Stackers

Water Storage 30 gallons

How much drinking water should I store?

FEMA says you should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.

I say that you should assess your situation, your surroundings (do you have access to other water sources than tap water?), the number of people you’re storing for, your risk tolerance threshold, your risk assessment of what might affect you, and decide for yourself how much you would like to store.

50 gallons would be just about enough for 2 people for a month (bare minimum). And that doesn’t count all the ‘gray water’ that you normally consume (washing, sanitation, etc..), which amounts to LOTS more than you may think!

The Average Gallons of Water People Use Each Day

How long will your long-term water storage last?

There are a multitude of opinions, but I’m sticking to this…

“Water is water, is water.” If you start with a pure clean source that’s known pure to begin with or treated with a safe level of chlorine, and it’s stored in a clean sealed opaque container in a cool place out of direct sunlight, it will be drinkable for “a very long time”.

If it’s clean and pure to begin with, and you don’t allow contamination to enter, it will be safe to drink. The taste will become ‘flat’ after awhile, but that’s not critical. For maintenance, I would dump it and replace it once every year to be assured. I drain and replenish my water storage at least once a year.

ALWAYS Have A Quality Water Filter!

Lastly, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND having a quality countertop drinking water filter. As you likely know, I’m a big fan of the Berkey water filter systems. If you’re going to check it out, a very reputable and certified USA Berkey distributor is The Berkey Guy.

(Note this article has been updated since it’s original post date, as reflected by the comments below)

Continue reading: Water Barrel Storage For Emergency

Water Sources and Treatment