How Will You Get Water From Source To Home After SHTF

It has happened; it has hit the fan. The power is out – the grid is down – the blackout has been ongoing for weeks with no end in sight. The water pressure in your home has stopped and there’s nothing coming out of the faucet.

The toilets won’t flush and you’re in deep $hit (pun intended)…

Now what?

I don’t think you can ever “store” enough water, especially for a long term grid down situation.

If the grid goes down (long term), then how will you get your water?

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

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

Fortunately you had done your research ahead of time. You had used online satellite mapping programs (with the ability to zoom in) and had discovered sources of water in your area. Or, you simply already knew about other bodies of water (streams, rivers, lakes, ponds).

Maybe there’s a stream about one-quarter mile from your home. There’s a small lake several miles away. A few of your neighbors in the general area have swimming pools.

There’s water around. But how will you get it from the source to your home?

Have you thought about it?

Getting Water From It’s Source – Back To Your Home

If you have gasoline and a motorized vehicle – this will obviously help (until you run out of gas!).

If the water source is not readily accessible by way of a convenient roadway up to it’s edge, then this too will present a problem. Will you have to travel far off-road to access it? Got that part figured out? Containers? Carts?

Maybe a bicycle with saddle bags slung over to hold jugs of water?

Did you know that water weighs 8 pounds per gallon? How many gallons can you carry at once (without spilling it all over the place)?

There are lots of questions, and you should consider answers and solutions to these problems because drinking water is essential for survival.

The following additional questions have links to other articles here…

Have you figured out how many gallons a day you will need for drinking water and for other tasks like flushing a toilet, cleaning clothes, or other sanitary tasks? It will surprise you!

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

How much water do you have stored, right now?

Have you considered a rainwater catch system?

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? Got enough?

Do you have drinking water filters to make the water safe to drink?

Do you have wagons, carts, and other such transport with wheels to enable getting the water from source to home?

What about water containers, jugs, buckets for gathering up the water to be placed on the transport device back to home?

Do you have drinking water storage capability at home for the water that you bring back?

Do you have regular household bleach to assist in water purification for drinking?

Is the water in swimming pools safe to drink?

Have you thought about water sources and treatment?

Do you have a water plan?

Remember this – for most people, 3 – 5 days without any water or liquids whatsoever, and you’re dead.

This has been a prepper public service announcement to get you thinking about such things ;)


  1. During the war in Vietnam, the VC brought tons of material thru the jungle down the Ho Chi Minh trail via bicycles. They would strap hundreds of pounds to their bikes, then walk alongside them like a pack mule. Simple and effective.

    They started this after our bombers zeroed in on the heat signatures from their trucks engines.

    This method should work well for transporting water, but I would do it in teams of two. One to bring the water, the other to stand guard.

  2. It’s not a perfect method, but shopping carts will be plentiful after the SHTF. Those things are pretty darn sturdy. Assuming you are not going over rough terrain, a cart would work great.

    1. I have invested in two heavy duty “kids wagons” from Harbor Freight tools. Reasonable price and can handle up to 300 lbs each. I will use these to haul the water in 5 gallon jugs from creek to home to berkey.

  3. I don’t mean to offend anyone by stating the obvious, but believe it or not, some people do not know that it is easier to carry two buckets, one in each hand, than just one.

    1. Yes, inserting an double end open wrench on the wire handles makes this even easier.. Much better when a fixed cover is available, less water sloshed out.

  4. Those will be the same people dying of thirst on the front steps of the local courthouse while they protest and demand that local government do something to get them water.

  5. If you have seriously prepped by taking the first and most crucial step of living in a low density population area in a freedom loving state, you probably have a well and transporting water should be a non-issue as long as you have taken steps to prepare for grid down. My biggest water concern is not being at home when it all goes down, which is where the life straw will be used.

    1. And what happens if your well becomes contaminated?
      Or the well goes dry?
      Or your well pump dies?

      You’d be hauling water………best to have a plan for that.

    2. So you are saying that the first step someone should take in prepping is to move?

        1. This is true unless you already chose to live in a place with the natural resources you would need. There is not enough time or money to make your condo in the city into an oasis in the desert when it all hits the fan.

  6. I think when the SHTF most people will find their days consumed with acquiring water and making it safe to drink. You don’t realize how much water one can go through until you lose it. Many years ago, our pump failed and we went two weeks with no running water. It became a daily activity to go get water, sometimes twice a day.

    1. I hear ya Peanut Gallery. Same has happened to me a couple times. The well silted up and clogged the lines. I wound up hauling a 55 gallon water barrel back and forth to my office to have water at the house every 2-3 days. That was when my wife at the time was only pregnant. If the kid was already there I could see myself doing it every 1-2 days. But in my case the prep was that I had an RV water pump (the kind with the pressure switch built in) and 12V truck battery strapped to the top of the barrel. I’d fill it up at the office in the back of the truck, slide it off onto the porch at the house (designed at the height of the bed) and plug a water hose into an outside spigot. It would pressure the lines in the house and we could still use the sink and shower, somewhat.

  7. Many years ago I was driving down the desert in Algeria (as you do). I was in an area which was around 250 kilometers between towns with water and fuel.
    I stopped for refreshments in the middle of nowhere (With some work colleagues).
    Within a few minutes there was a young boy standing close watching us. He had a donkey with two water barrel strapped to it’s back.
    I asked him what he was doing there – out in the middle of nowhere. He explained that he was going to get the water for the family from the water well. Two hours there and two hours back. I then asked him why didn’t the family simply live next to the water well. There was feed for the goats where the family was camped but no water. There was no feed for the goats where the water was.
    A family of ten managed to survive on two small barrels of water per day – camped out in the northern Sahara desert.
    I asked him if he wanted some water from us to drink. No he said, he wasn’t thirsty.

  8. That is why I have a pond 50′ from my house and a stream within 100′. Preparing is location, location, location… I am in very rural Indiana. If my well fails and the pond and stream run dry then we are all in big trouble.

  9. I could probably rig something to strap several gallons to my horse. he can pull a cart, but the terrain is pretty rough here, so probably tying them on the pack rig would be better. I’ll have to practice that. Fortunately we get a fair amount of rain here too.

  10. After reading this article (twice) and the link about wagons and carts, I looked on Craigslist last night and sure enough, found a four wheel garden cart (like the one in the upper left corner in the wagon cart link) that was advertised t be able to haul 1000 lbs, for only $45. I know they are over $100 new, and after TSHTF, will be worth a whole lot more. Even though I am an apartment dweller, I will use stash this in my storage closet until needed. I saw several shapes and varieties and a big price range. So this is now my new BOW, bug out wagon. This could haul several jugs of water, or literally become a bug out wagon if we need to relocate without a vehicle. Thanks for the great tips daily!

  11. A 2 wheel flatbed bicycle trailer can be adapted to carry water barrels, as much as you can haul. Much more useful than a child trailer unless you are hauling children. A small spring at higher altitude may be easier than a stream at lower altitude than your residence. When it comes to heavy hauling, gradient is more significant than distance.
    Compared to a hand cart, a bicycle trailer is faster and more efficient. When pushing uphill, the brakes can prevent rolling back down.
    Consider riding in convoy of 2 or more for security. You can use wide spacing so the ambushers can only secure one of you. This is not “one on security” but mutual support.

    1. Great point, the security aspect a lot of us plan in the now not when, moving around doing anything after the ball has dropped is going to require opsec and more. You may not be able to be out and about or maybe you have to bug out when bugging in is no longer a option. Planning anything while you are in the NOW MODE is a accident waiting to happen. Understand these points have been made before……..but the majority of people even some ‘preppers’ are reactive not proactive…..need to get her done, time may not be your friend.

      1. Realist, while I agree with your premise, and I try myself to follow it as much as I can, there are some things you either cannot foresee, or do not have the time, money or resources to prepare for. That is when you use the greatest tool each and every one of us have. Your noodle. So your comment may not necessarily be true all the time and people should not think that if they didn’t prepare for an event that they cannot overcome it. Sometimes the preps you make do not work out. What do you do then? You adapt and overcome. You improvise. You use your noodle, all in the NOW MODE. Because maybe in the “BEFORE MODE” you didn’t think to strap the bung wrench to the water barrel, but in the NOW MODE you can figure out how to use your pocket knife handle and a crescent wrench to open the bung. Do not discount the ability of the human mind to come up with a solution to a problem RIGHT NOW WHEN ITS NEEDED, even if they can’t foresee it in the future. While having the bung wrench strapped to the barrel would have been the prudent prep, even if you didn’t, the NOW MODE prep could keep you alive when the BEFORE MODE prep might not. A lot of battles are likely won because someone did something that they didn’t necessarily plan for and it worked out. Now with that said, I’m not advocating for not doing any preps. That would be stupid. If you can get some basic preps done, you can figure out the rest as you go. At least I hope that maybe some of us can ;-)

  12. In addition to a well, we have 2 spring feed streams that run year round down by the garden and I use a 12volt submersible water pump, marine battery and solar panel to water my garden. The submersible pump can also be used to fill 2 55 gallon water barrels for use at the house. We have a 325 gallon water tote that is connected to the house gutter downspout via a diverter to collect rain water. There are also several springs that run down the mountain when the water table is high during the winter.

    1. Romeo Charlie,
      I have a small stream about 300 ft from my cabin about 20 ft lower in elevation. Certainly I could do the solar 12V pump thing but I’m thinking of (well actually already got the parts) to build a ram pump. The plan is to let it run 24/7 slowly keeping a tank up the hill full. It should even work at night when the sun isn’t shining ;-) I’ll post results if I ever put it together. But in the meantime search up DIY ram pump for pumping creek water.

  13. 55 gallon barrels at the end of your downspouts; raised a bit with cinder blocks, simple screen on top and preferably a spigot at the bottom. Will still need to go through a Berkey or charcoal filter.

  14. The Asian device of a pole with a container on each end carried on the shoulder comes to mind. Pad your shoulder though.

    1. Deep South
      Or a take off of the old shoulder yoke.
      Lash/clamp/attach a (short) horizontal pole to a (backpacking) pack frame.

      1. Deep South,
        water is a little over 8lbs a gallon. a 5 gal bucket of water is 40lbs. if someone can carry 80lbs of water for any kind of distance on their shoulders very far , much less uphill- i am proud for them. i couldn’t do it on a good day.
        i would make other plans.

  15. Water is one of most important preps. Make sure you always have a supply of potable water in your home and with you when you travel. Also, have a reliable water filter to treat water whether at home or traveling. We rely on municipal water for the home but have deep well and solar to run the deep well that is used for the farm. Also ponds and streams very close by. Our area receives significant rainfall. We also utilize 330 gal food safe water containers, which can be switched to use roof run off if needed but currently filled from well.

    Our municipal water is not used to drink as it is poor quality and often brown since the state required our town to change water sources. Before we had the best tasting water around. Now it is not. 5wnk you NY state.

  16. No matter what, you will have people wanting whatever you have, they will be neighbors, friends, random people, they will climb over gates and fences and generally will become belligerent if you dont give them what they want.

    Are you really ready for that?

    It will get ugly, especially int the entitled states of aMerIcA, we are so screwed, doesnt matter where you live, some places may be ok, most will not, that pest at work? The neighbor who just shows up whenever? Just about anyone can become a problem if they think you will help them.

    1. Kulafarmer,
      in our area they call it poor mouthing. i may go to their houses first to ask for things, in a nice way, and then they will think that i don’t have anything.
      i do practice op-sec on my supplies.
      it will always depend on what kind of emergency. hurricanes are one thing, it’s all for one and one for all here.
      our communities always pull together in those situations.
      EMP’s or some long term grid down situation will be another thing altogether.

  17. Here’s a tip for transporting water in open top containers such as 5gal buckets and 55gal barrels. Cut a piece of 2×4, 2×6, 2×12 etc. to float on top goes a long way in stopping the water from sloshing out. Farmers and ranchers have done this for years when transporting water barrels in the back of their pickups to fill water troughs away from the water source.

  18. Dennis,

    That’s a great tip! We use 5gal buckets quite often to transport water for various uses. We’ll definitely try this out. Hope things have calmed down on your mountain, weather-wise.

    1. I second the appreciation for that as well. I sure could have saved me some trouble in the past when watering distant trees from the hose bib.

  19. Good comments: Solar powered deep well pump. 12vdc utility pump.
    Every situation will have it’s own requirements. You can move a LOT of water with garden hoses and a 12 vdc pump. Way better than carrying it. Small 12 vdc pumps are reasonably priced ($30-35) at farm store. A solar panel or three and you’re set. Think it through and get it NOW. Always need another garden hose.

  20. I have a pond, but I’ll have to ‘Shoo’ the Gators away first.

  21. We are a spoiled people. We are used to having everything in great abundance. Things we’ve grown accustomed to, like an endless supply of clean water, were not always so.

    My mother was raised with only a shallow, hand dug, well as the family’s only source of water. My grandfather dug the well and walled it in with hand laid rock and brick. The well was about 30′ deep x 3’in diameter and about 30′ behind their 3-room house.

    Her and her 5 brothers and sisters were raised in that house. Every drop of water for the family was hand drawn from that well with a two-gallon pail with a rope and pulley, hand carried to the house. It remained that way until the 60’s when the now grown kids installed a pump and ran plumbing for a single faucet into the kitchen.

    As a child myself during the ’50’s, I drew many a bucket of water from that well when I visited my grandparents. I recall it being fun. I doubt my grandparents saw it as being inconvenient…to them, it was just how it was…a normal part of life.

  22. – I have a well, currently with a submersible electric pump that I can power with my generator for a few minutes a day. When the fuel runs out or my “only a couple of years old” pump fail, I have a hand pump that a child can operate and that should be good until that child is an old man or woman. I also have printed out the instructions to repair or replace that hand pump, and the materials are on hand for that.

    Should my well go dry or be contaminated, i have the materials to either decontaminate that well from most biological contaminants, or about twenty or so five-gallon buckets with attached lids and a garden cart that will manage five buckets at a time. I have neighbors with wells, which if they also fail, there are some supplies of surface water available in the area and topo maps for the area in my stores. The salt licks are marked on those maps as well.

    There is always a chance of rain, and my roof is set up to catch it if we should get it. Should that fail, I will do what the ancestral peoples in my area did. Pack up and move South; or die.

    – Papa S

    – Papa S.

  23. Milwaukee(brand) makes a portable hand truck. Wheels fold in(flat), no I don’t mean that the tires go flat, ha! Handle goes down for more compact storage. And easy carrying. Capacity is 150 lbs.
    An electric bicycle w/solar charge would be nice to have.

  24. I remember someone here posting about how they took a weekend to practice living without electricity. I hope someone else remembers who it was and maybe they can repost about it. Anyway, I remember them talking about the labor of hauling water to the house and the amount of wood they used the heat the water. If I remember correctly there was several things that I never thought about until I read his post. Like how dirty he got, and the bath water was dirty afterward. Also washing his clothes would leave them stiff after they dry and he started to breakout wearing them. There was more to his post, but the part about the water defiantly made me rethink trying to live without electricity and having water close by if at all possible. Good article to revisit in these times.

  25. Collect rain water and drive a shallow well…or two.
    If you can’t do these two things you’re screwed. SOL!
    Any questions?

  26. Wheelbarrow with armed guards … at night maybe? Have buckets with lids, wheelbarrow and canal 6 blocks away and creek about 3. Also have a rain barrel and a Berkey with spare filters. I have bleach balls for laundry. Can they be used similar to pool shock as well?

  27. There was a demand the hand pump be removed about 10 years ago here.
    It would take two hours to pull it all out, assemble and install, assembled as it’s installed.

    Then the pump would be about 70′ from the front door.
    That’s after I used up the gas on my generator.

    Beyond that around 1,000 feet down the trail is a huge pound but that water would have to be filtered and boiled.
    There are fish in that pond too.

  28. Anybody have a municipal water tank near them, is there a well pump next to it, is there any way you could hook up a portable pump or a genset to run the pump that is there? Course you would have to know how deep the well is first if you were going to try and use a portable pump unit.

  29. Replaced the older Well with a constant pressure well pump. It works a lot nicer on solar and well you now you have on tap water in the house. (no need to filter it out from the pond)

  30. RtPexpert?
    Your constant pressure pump, I encourage you to LEARN all about it. They’re really nice, but more prone to failure than a “dumb pump.” Dumb pump is either on or off. It’s controlled by pressure tank/switch. Constant pressure pump is controlled by speed of the shaft to maintain “constant” pressure. More/different impellers and circuitry.

    We all make our choices and take our chances. Sometimes the new stuff, ie fuel injection, is just better. Sometimes it’s NOT better, depending on application. Me, I’m looking to do it the simplest way. Maybe, just maybe, I can repair it if it fails. Well buckets aren’t handy, but they will work every time. I have solar deep well submersible “dumb” pump. I also have a homemade well bucket, just in case.

    1. Seems decent from what the Well guy who installs them mentioned. I am alright and the neighbors have had them installed as well.

      The on / off method is a huge draw of power and seems very hard to a solar setup. At least this way we can run showers and still have a sink.

  31. Very important article. Most people think that they will just go next door and get some water from their neighbors and they might help you. What happens when they run out of water ?
    I have thought about this for a long time and I think I have a solution. I bought a three wheeled bike with a basket on the back. I also bought a trailer ” little red wagon ” to hook on the bike. My water source ” I found three springs ” in my area. Granted it will take all day to get water back to the house and it will be a hard ride, needless to say I won’t be able to carry much maybe six to ten gallons at a time. I plan on using bleach to purify the water ” six drops per gallon ” but I also have a few ” life straws “, one per person and they are good for 500 gallons.
    I bought a local waterway map that shows the rivers, creeks and ponds. It also tells me how deep it is and the natural flow. Everyone should get one for their region. To be honest I won’t use the rivers, creeks and ponds for my drinking water but I will use them for washing clothes and for watering my plants.
    I have thought about making a rainwater catch system but haven’t done that yet, maybe this year some time. That would help for water to the house for flushing and cleaning and if needed for drinks.
    You are correct in saying that four days without water and you are just another number of people that died. People in big cities like New York will be the first to die, without power, no water. It will be total chaos and anarchy the thousands and thousands of people looking for water and can’t find any. I’m sure that even with my knowledge of three fresh water springs there will be trouble at the water sight because people will defend that water in any way possible. There won’t be a police response because no phone will be working so it truly will be life or death and you will be on your own.

  32. Not only the big cities, but anywhere that relies on a utility to supply water will be in dire straits within 3-4 days. If the water pumping stations are down then no water, if the sewage plants are down then sewage will back up (forcing people out of the houses) and disease will rapidly spread. This scenario would apply to the vast majority of the population in urban and suburban areas where the death toll will be the highest by far.

    Saw an article on ZH warning of not only high diesel prices but a diesel shortage. No trucks, no tractors, no combines = no food. Later this year may ended up being of biblical proportions.

  33. really guys, if you have a well, get some PVC well buckets and some rope. that will work when all of the mechanical stuff breaks down.
    anything electrical or mechanical will break eventually, it’s only a matter of time.
    i put a lot of stock in mechanical hand tools, they don’t need electricity and they always work when i need them.
    no recharging necessary. i have a shop full of power tools, they are handy but i don’t rely on them.
    i have friends that will spend 20 minutes hooking to and unhooking from a post hole auger on a tractor to dig one hole, when they could have dug it in 5 minutes with a post hole digger with a lot less effort.

    1. Make sure ypu have plenty of climbing rope too, reason, it lasts forever, i mean expensive high quality mammut or similar rope, it is UV protected and doesnt rot.

      1. 1/4″ SS cable last’s a long time also for wells. just make sure you get some SS cable clamps and double them up.

    2. Yeah…. sounds about as fun as watching paint dry. I’ll take the solar powered well pump with the idea of a well bucket as a shit this sucks last resort.

      1. RRTPE
        Actually, it is the solar powered well pump that sucks.
        This Spring I have to replace a 12 volt well pump that doesn’t suck anymore.

    1. Or inexpensive ram pumps in creeks :-)

      For the snow thing, as long as you have wood to burn you can get water from snow.
      My 3 acres houses 17,500 gallons of snow in the winter (at any one time) which roughly equates to 1,750 gallons of water.
      Thats if I had the wood and (personal) energy to gather and tend the fire while it melts.
      You can do it. And where we live the Ram pump, or solar well pump may not.
      There is always a pot on the wood stove.

  34. I melted snow when I was winter camping in the Sierras for water. When I was off grid, the issue was not obtaining water. The issue was purification for purposes of washing as well as drinking or cooking. This issue had to be dealt with when melting snow as well since not all the snow out there is pure crystal-white. “don’t you eat that yellow snow. Watch out where them huskies go.” – Frank Zappa
    The same bugs you can get from untreated water, you can get from snow melt to include campylobacter. When I worked off grid in a district that had no water piped in, I learned from the folks in maintenance how to replace the filters and when I should replace them. Filters were fine when the temperature was above freezing. When temp was below freezing, the unfrozen streams ran fast with milky colored water (coloration due to glacial silt – this will also clog up filters in short order unless you have a katadyne with backflush capability.
    the solution for drinking purified water when in the frozen back country: Melt snow in blocks until you get a potful then bring the pot to a boil for several minutes. If the water is cloudy with silt, I run the boiled water through a coffee filter.
    In the state I live in, it is illegal to catch and store rain water (Oregon). If the S were to hit the fan, I think most people would be harvesting rainwater from their roofs. (Easier to apologize later rather than ask for permission).
    After several years of living off grid, I stopped carrying a filter into the back country and used the weight and bulk to carry more fuel for my stove.

  35. Prepared & Calirefugee
    To be sure, know the ‘quality’ of the snow you will be using.
    When running long distance sled dog races, we all carried alcohol stoves designed to melt snow. In short, we ran six hours, rested six hours — around the clock. Made camp one time in the dark, near a stand of spruce…
    Had to laugh, when I discovered, later that day, all the spruce needles in my thermos of water.
    Yes, we always have a pot of snow/water on the woodstove.
    For years used an oil drum woodstove, with a hole cut into the top of the stove so a large, blue porcelain, canning pot would slip down into it. Used different pots, one for snow/water. Another for cooking fish for the dogs, etc.
    Recently built a rocket stove to melt snow with branches-twigs etc. that would normally be left in the woods. Lopping sheers (whatever you call them) safely makes short work of chopping the branches into manageable pieces.

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