Methods To Transport Emergency Water From Source To Home


Water. You all know that water is among the very highest of priorities for survival. The vast majority depend on flowing water from their local municipal water department while others depend on their wells.

Since many of you are also preparing for a worst-case collapse scenario whereby the infrastructure may also collapse or be interrupted, one of your highest concerns should be a plan (and the methods) to move emergency water from an external source back to your home…

Think of a hypothetical scenario – regardless of cause – your existing water source ‘dries up’. Gone. Add to that scenario the circumstance such that everyone else is in the same predicament. Lets say that the grocery stores have all sold out of their water bottles.

Uh-oh, what will you do?

Don’t take the easy way out of this exercise and tell yourself that you’ll simply drive out of the area until you find a store with some water. Lets say that all store supplies are gone. What will you do?

Well let me offer a few suggestions:


Find the nearest water sources BEFORE you need them

Find the nearest water source closest to your home. Then find another one. Some people may have water literally in their backyard. Others may not have any easily accessible water for many miles or further.

Don’t just look off the main roads. There may be a creek or stream or small pond much closer than you realize. One easy way to find water sources is to look via ‘Google Earth’. You can zoom right down to your location and explore all around. You might be surprised how many backyard swimming pools that you discover too! (lots of water there)

Another way to find water sources may be to look through a local Fishing Map Guide.

You don’t necessarily need to find a lake. Many very small creeks, streams, and brooks wind their way through regions and often go unnoticed.


The means & methods to transport the water back home

I haven’t fully described the scenario, but lets say that your vehicles are still functional and you still have gasoline in the tank. Obviously you could drive as close as possible to the water source. You’ll have to walk the rest of the way and use buckets to gather it.

Note: Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon (it’s heavy!)

However lets say that you either don’t have an operational vehicle or the water source is well into the woods. Think about how you would get in there and then out of there with all that water weight…


Water Jugs

You will need water containers that won’t spill out. Examples:
Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
Aqua-Tainer 4 Gallon Rigid Water Container


Wagons & Carts

You might need some sort of wagon or cart to haul that water. Examples:
Gorilla Carts Heavy-Duty Garden Poly Dump Cart
Rubbermaid Commercial Big Wheel Cart


Drinking Water Filters

You will most definitely need a good drinking water filter at home to purify your source.

Related: Water & Water Filters

Give it some thought. Where might you acquire emergency water if you needed to… and how would you get it back home?


  1. Hello Ken, Another easy way to source water is as simple as using your car GPS or Satnav. When you drive to your pre-set destination take note of all the water courses that appear at the sides of your road map. I was both amazed and appalled due to the Opsec implications, and the accuracy. Cheers.

  2. This scenario also applies when the mains becomes contaminated and water companies supply bowsers or tanks on the street. You have to transfer the water a few 10-100m to your home.

    Fetching water by car takes fuel and uses up battery.
    You can get caravan style rolling water tanks or use a hand-cart.
    I suggest yet another application for a bicycle with a trailer.

    In wilder and poorer parts of Africa and other places, collecting water is one of the major tasks of the day, often allocated to women and girls. In war zones, water and firewood collection expose women to all manner of dangers.

  3. We have a pond, brook, stream, seasonal stream, and a larger pond (a five minute walk down the dead end road we live on). We have a cart and buckets to collect the water. We also have a rain barrel which hasn’t been much use lately with the drought we have been having this summer.

    I have also downloaded instruction on building a ram pump as three of these water sources are close enough to use for a ram pump. Then tarps to collect rain water, should it ever rain here again.

    This is one area where we are our strongest.

  4. This is question I have gone over multiple times. I store quite a bit of water,aprox 100 gal in bottles in the house and 8 55 gl drums outside hooked to a rain catchment but that would only last so long. If I had fuel and could drive there would be no problem as there are 2 lakes,1 stream and a major river within short distance,the farthest being the river at about 16 miles round trip. Without being able to drive that’s a different story. 5 gallon jugs can be hauled with wheelbarrows and I have 7 jugs and 2 wheelbarrows but it would be about 2-4 miles round trip to get water and as you say it would be heavy. The other problem is if it were in that bad of a situation moving that far with both hands tied up pushing the wheelbarrow means no hands for caring a weapon which means at least 2 people would be required.

    1. A budget solution to transport water is to reuse clear plastic containers that were purchased at a Discount Club such as Sam’s. Typically they are paired using a plastic handle. Using a piece of galvanized pipe about 4 to 5 feet long thats threaded at each end with a 90 degree elbow at each end. Slip the containers on the top of the pipe at each end and lift the pipe over head and allow it to rest on the shoulders and behind your neck, balancing the load. The elbows will help keep the bottles from siding off the end. Using this same method one could cut a hardwood sapling to use in place of the pipe and tie cordage or rope on the ends to help keep the bottles from siding off the ends.

      This method could be used in combination with a larger container, that would be too heavy of bulky to reach the water source.

    2. poorman
      Are there any wells in your area? Maybe a well that is not being used, check with the local country records for the depth, gpm, quality of water. Storage of pvc pipe with threads shut off valves etc you might need for pumping into a storage tank on your property.

  5. A standard 5 x 10 utility trailer will hold ten 25 gallon nursery tubs plus another eight to ten 6 gallon buckets without exceeding the axle weight limits of the trailer (use containers with removable lids.) That’s about 300 gallons. Collect your water and then leave the trailer parked in the shade behind the house and dip or siphon out the water as needed. The black tubs will inhibit algae growth. I’ve stored rainwater in these tubs for long periods of time to use in the garden and the water remained crystal clear. If there is no debris in the container and the water was clean when it went in, it will be clean when it comes out. Of course, you should boil the water or run it through a water filter or distiller before drinking it. I know, I know, the tubs are not food grade and have not been approved by the government for water storage but, when you need water it doesn’t matter. Not everything you do has to be approved by the government.

    1. Quote, “I know, the tubs are not food grade and have not been approved by the government for water storage but, when you need water it doesn’t matter. Not everything you do has to be approved by the government.”

      I had to laugh at that because even on a ‘survival’ site, there will be those who bark at the ‘food-grade’ aspect of plastics – even though we’re talking about emergency or disastrous situations whereby you’ll be dead in 3 days without any water (versus the potential for multi-decade ingestion of ‘x’ number of molecules of some plastic substance that may or may not ‘get you’) ;)

  6. As i mentioned yesterday, we are about to break ground for a new house. It is being built very near to a good safe well. Also pond and stream on the property.

    1. It is ‘huge’ to have natural water on one’s property. Especially if it’s year-round… Just don’t tell the EPA.

      1. We are in a county with no zoning, so no .gov types sticking there big noses in our business. That said, i plan on giving the well a lower profile and some sort of screen, bushes or something.

        1. The over-reaching federal EPA can potentially ‘reach out and touch you’ no matter where you are – especially if you have standing water on your property or what they may arbitrarily deem a ‘navigable waterway’ (they’ve even used that definition for ordinary ‘creeks’). They are an out-of-control agency.

          With that said, that’s great that you live in a state/county where they apparently stay out of your business. That’s rare these days.

        2. The feds are a problem. My very simple plan is to stay out of those parts of the system as much as possible. No one can stay out of them all. When i buy an upgrade for the old pump, it will with cash, which is how i purchase as much as possible.

  7. I have a wooden sled I could use, the creek near my house 1 handis 2 blocks down the street. Would need to get buckets, sled could hold 6 small buckets on it & I could figure a way to strap them down. Would be able to pull sled with one hand so have free hand for defense. Definitely boil water
    because creek near hwy.

  8. We are on well-water that feeds off of a spring. Next door, there’s a spring in their field. We also have a rain cachement system (1,350 gallons). If we have failure on our main water sources, there is plenty of water nearby.

    We have a stream that feeds to the creek that goes directly into a large river. The creek is about 3/4 mile away, the river is about 8 miles. We have horses and the ability to tote water if necessary. Closer by, we have a 200+ acre lake and through the woods, it’s about a mile. Again — horses would carry the load.

    We use our Berkey all the time (it’s in the kitchen) and have backup filters for it. We also have a more rudimentary water filter system (w/ a ceramic filter), keep activated charcoal and sand on hand, along with the powdered bleach for sanitation. We also have a few LifeStraws (in our get home bags).

    We keep stored water in the house. Extra water-holding containers include some of the Aquatainer totes. We lucked into one of those large 10-gallon glass water-cooler bottles and bought the lid to store water upright in it. And we have many spare 5-gallon food-grade buckets with lids. (We had a never-ending supply of those buckets for a few years and stocked up quite well!)

  9. Currently DW & I am looking at a property that has a 1 acre spring fed stocked fish pond. So with an average depth of 10ft works out to a little more than 4 millions gallons. Property is both above and below home, with pond low on property. To address Ken’s topic, I would like to install a water pumping windmill to feed a water tank on the upper portion of the property to provide gravity fed water. With proper sanitation of the water to the house, it should be fine. Not a lot of pressure as the drop will not be great, but any water flow is better than hauling buckets! I dont believe that the houses’ small usage will impact the pond or the drainage fed from the pond (have to care for the ecosystem as it will be feeding us!). Windmills of different designs have been used (and still are used) for centuries to get water where we humans want it to be.

  10. If my water was suddenly gone or contaminated i would be screwed, especially if it meant transporting water from elsewhere.
    If it was on foot even worse yet, there are no water sources other than municipal systems within a reasonable distance. I think that would initiate a bugout. Or perhaps the drink a gallon of whiskey, put the car in the garage runnin and crank up the tunes and go to sleep, forever,,,,,

  11. As a child, I remember going along to haul water form the spring. Where was the spring? About 5-6 miles from the house. Old flatbed truck with about dozen cream/milk cans. The spring was a tributary to a good size creek. They would just drive down the old creek bed to the spring and take buckets to fill the cans. It was fun, us kids swam & played in the water while this was going on.

    Oh yal, my parents hauled water in a wooden barrel on a horse drawn cart. To keep the water from sloshing out, place a large stick upright in the barrel. If not, you might get home with only a half barrel.

  12. Game carts have big bicycle type tires, might be easier to move water over uneven ground?

      1. Yes. I’d have to haul about 1/4 mile up a pretty steep hill, uneven ground. Could bungee water bottles onto the cart. Haven’t bought one yet, but it’s on the list.

        1. I bought this one and love it, but get it at Home Depot for $150 – best price around m

  13. Good sized stream and a lake are not too far away, problem is its mostly downhill and rough terrain. Plan is to utilize the double stroller modified to carry buckets. We have a double BOB and that thing is built like a tank and can easily take my 225lbs self.

  14. When we need water for our garden in the rare event of no rain for a while, we have a small waterbed bladder we plop in a trailer and run to the small drippy ledge not far away. We hook a hose to a 5-gallon bucket with a fitting at the bottom and set that under the drippy ledge and it slowly fills the bladder. When it is full we can hook a hose to the bladder and transport water where we need it. We can get a hundred gallons tor so that way with little effort. Maybe some part of that can be modified and made useful to someone.

  15. We live on a small year round stream , but we would have to haul it about 200′ up to the house , not a fun task . I found a year round spring on the property that I am planning to set up with a spring box and a solar pump to pump to a 200 gallon reservoir about 12 ‘ above ground primarily to use for garden watering , or other stuff too .
    We also store a couple cases of bottled water and about 30 gallons in totes with spigots .
    Water is very crucial and is at the top of our self-reliance list .

  16. We are very fortunate….have strong year round creek with good water. about 800 feet below house in valley, mile each way, however we also have HORSES. have fit several bladders to saddles for carrying, so even if all the iron horses are useless, the real McCoy can haul for us!

  17. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a large pond on my property with fish, turtles, and an occasional roving ‘gator’.
    Has to be filtered & purified before use.
    Water source no concern for me, fortunately.

  18. Rich Italians, who still live in Italy, are going to pump 57,000 gallons of water from the Plains of San Augustin yearly to sell to Albuquerque for the Rio Grande. Meanwhile several communities, mine included might have our wells pumped dry as we are in the same aquifer. We have fought it for years and now they tell us there is nothing they can do.

  19. I also forgot to mention that we have a sled for hauling the buckets in the winter. Although I suppose if one has enough snow they can collect the snow to melt indoors.

  20. I have a 3 acer spring feed lake (with fish) within 1000 yards and have the Animas River within another 50 yards of the lake. Plus several irrigation ditches in the area that run 75% of the year. Not bad for the middle of the Desert… HAHAHA FYI, Rain barrels are 99.999% worthless here, we get 9-11 inches of rain a year…. As a side note, the Animas is a good source of water until the EPA turns it ORANGE !!!! HAHAHAHA

    If the vehicle is still running, I can back the truck right up to the lake and use a small “working” gas fired pump to fill a 300 gallon tank that’s fits the truck. That water is then transferred into a storage tank at the house. If the vehicles are out of commission, wheelbarrow time from the lake, 5 gallon containers (4 at a time) than manually pushed to the home, a LOT more difficult but doable. Last my neighbor, whom I purchased my land from, we installed 2 extra 2” dia pipes from the lake area (the Domestic Water Meters are close to there) up the incline to the top of the hill, so if we had fuel we could still pump water from the lake to the house and his office.

    Having enough “containers” for around 200 gallons, plus the Large Storage Tank for “junk Water” is a must for anyone as far as I’m concerned.
    Two Wheeled wheelbarrows are GREAT, maybe a large tired wagon of some kind, like the Lawn Carts that garden stores sell?

    Filters also are a MUST, the Sawyer Mini’s are great for most uses, I also have a Big Berkey (and backup filters) for everyday use. FYI Berkey makes a fantastic filter system. I had to laugh at another Blog, someone was suggesting you filter the water for the Toilet and I quote “so the toilet would not grow yucky things in it” OMG, really?????

    Having also enough Bottled Water (or whatever) stored for a month or so is a good idea, if TSHTF you may not want to go wandering around too much looking to haul water, for a little while anyways.


  21. I’ve made a yoke out of a pick handle with 60 penny nails carefully driven, one in each end. Then bent into a hook. Two pieces of rope connect to two 5 gallon buckets. Ropes are just long enough for me to hold the handles to minimize swinging. My hillbilly grandmother, while having 15 kids, got water out of the creek I assume about the same way.

  22. Living in Reno I’ll be screwed if municipal water goes down. Everyone and their brother will be going to the Truckee for their water and myself included most likely. It’s a little over a mile down hill from where I live, which means after fighting the hoards to get it I’ll have to carry it a mile uphill home. There are a few seasonal tributaries, but much further away.
    The lack of water is my biggest exposure, as it is for most people living in a desert.

    1. Living in the desert is a nightmare for water. Even more so if you live out in the boonies like I do. 27 miles to town, no car, no bus, no city water, no well, no natural water sources nearby. It really sucks. We have to have water hauled in, but the guy is a major ass and a scammer cause he’s got a monopoly in the area. So, even though he leaves us hanging for up to a week at a time, we don’t have much else choice. We do have a 1,000 gal tank, but it doesn’t go as far as you’d think. Even though it’s only used for drinking and flushing toilets. I miss Michigan. So much water everywhere. So much life. I could live good off the land there. But not in the Mojave. Everything is dead and dried up and uninhabitable.

  23. so…choose your jug, but if you need some sort of wheels and don’t have a wagon…get a shopping cart. :)

  24. There is a natural spring 1/4 mile from me in the woods down a trail that feeds a local lake, so no preparation to drink it. I have a sled to pull water jugs in the winter, so either I or my 3 dogs can help pull it. I still have my old dog sled harnesses.

    In the warmer months I have a bicycle I can put 2 one gallon water containers in the basket and install a half PVC pipe or board to sling the jugs over the back fender so they don’t hit the spokes.

    I also have 5 gallon buckets that catch rain water, and lots of snow and ice I can melt down in the winter over the wood stove. Problem solved before it began.

    1. “In the warmer months I have a bicycle I can put 2 one gallon water containers in the basket and install a half PVC pipe or board to sling the jugs over the back fender so they don’t hit the spokes.”

      A bicycle without a rear luggage rack is just for fun.

  25. Years ago there was a creek running about 100 feet from our house. It was paved and put into a culvert, covered over, and there is now a parking lot and an office complex built over it. That creek is still there, emptying into the newly enlarged storm drains. If it came down to it, getting into it the first time might be a lot of work but once that was done I’d have a clean mountain stream running a short distance from the house.

    Because of the creek there is nearly always water in that storm drain, so in the short term I’d probably get water from there.

  26. They’re has been a solution made for 3rd world countries that will work perfectly for this. The water hippo @ was made to help villagers transfer more water easily back to they’re homes. Another company has come out with a more advanced version called the water wheel @ wellowater.organization. check it out!

    1. I was wondering if anyone was going to post about the hippo roller! That is the greatest invention. Such a great idea. Their website says it runs $272 in America. yikes!

      Surely some of you engineer types could figure out your own version…

      As for my water situation…there’s a creek a few blocks over from me, but I’m in suburbia, so it might be a bit of a fight to get in there! (Insert sharp elbows here)

      Ready to be out of debt so i can get a bug out place!

      1. I was kinda surprised when I looked up what a “hippo roller” and similar actually was.

        why surprised?

        well, to me, it pretty much looks like a water filled lawn roller/lawn packer, available at many chain stores, and quite often for free.

        Growing up, I saw many folks who planted their own lawns rent one, borrow one etc, run over new lawn soil to pack it down.

        Looked both up again, and to me, they look pretty much the same (except the lawn roller can be had for cheap/free).

  27. The water tasted so bad in some areas of California that I used to ride my bicycle to and from the water store where I would buy filtered water for about a buck a gallon. I do not have to do that now but it was something I did as a study break back in the day. A gallon of water on each side of the rack balanced out the load nicely. I made 3 trips and had 6 gallon bottles. Water was the poor man’s diet beverage. It kept me in shape too.

  28. when we moved here to Texas one of the many things I looked for was water. We have a 3/4 acre stock tank plenty of catfish, perch, and step is to build the water collection system as a backup. That should be done this summer in time for the winter.

  29. Moved to VT and bought almost 200 acres.. that has 2 running springs and living in a house/cabin with a cistern in the basement..moving onto newer property that will be off grid and plans to have ram pumps , rain catchment off the metal roof as well as wind power and solar power with small backup of micro-hydro to charge batteries in the winter…far enough of main road and away from city to be fairly comfortable…by the way … my wife and I are both retired and working harder than ever to make ourselves self sufficient! ..Just get it done before it’s too late!

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