Last updated on January 31st, 2019
WATER is a survival priority. In fact, generally we cannot survive much longer than 3 days without it. A very small number of people have been known to survive for up to a week without water under special circumstances, but this has been a rare exception.
Knowing this, one would think that WATER is a top priority for most preppers. Unfortunately, it often is not. It is often overlooked because most of us have such ready access to it nearly everywhere we go. It comes out of our faucet, we can buy it in stores, it’s in lakes, rivers and streams, and it rains (in most places)…
Stop to think about it though, because there are situations where your access to fresh clean drinking water could diminish or disappear. Here are a few notes about sources of water and treatment of water:
The following are some sources for water, and a few notes for each.
Most everyone relies on this resource and distribution network.
Safe, already treated.
Requires operating infrastructure, maintenance, treatment supplies.
Requires large pumps and electricity.
Generator backup power will keep it flowing for awhile after power outage.
Pipeline contamination possibility with major disasters.
Know where your town’s water source is located (storage tanks and source).
You are dependent on this system for survival (unless with backup plan).
Requires a pump.
Pump needs electricity.
Electricity could be from alternative methods (solar, battery bank, etc).
Manual pump could be a solution, and advisable as backup.
Rope and bucket, depending on well diameter.
Depth of well considerations.
Cost of drilling and implementation.
Water pumped up to storage vessel containment.
Size of storage considerations.
Gravity feed from storage vessel for emergency (store higher than user location).
Filtration / treatment for drinking, depending on source quality.
Good overall self-reliant method (with appropriate backups for power, pump).
Lakes, Rivers, Streams, Ponds
Transportation of water to intended location.
Buckets, pails, lids, water jugs.
Manual transportation, wagon, 2-wheel dolly, hand-truck, bicycle/trailer/saddlebags.
Vehicle transportation if fuel is available.
System of pipes with pump, if nearby to location.
Gravity system may work, if applicable.
Storage in vessels at intended location.
Water will need filtration and purification for drinking.
Best resource if you’re lucky enough to have one.
Constant source of positive water flow.
Still requires transport or pump to dwelling.
Temporary water source after rainfall.
Water from runoff in low lying areas.
Probably much dirtier.
Filtration and purification definitely needed for drinking.
Unknowns regarding chemicals, but if desperate…
Kids gulp pool water while swimming and live to see another day, so…
Most pools are kept to less than 3ppm chlorine, which is safe for drinking
However long standing untreated pool water will be devoid of chlorine.
Filtration and purification recommended.
Know who has pools in your location. Use Google Earth to find them.
Hot Water Tank
Emergency water location that many will overlook.
40 to 50 gallons commonly available in home hot water tanks.
Safe to drink unless sitting unused for a long time.
Purification if old water.
Use a length of hose to adapt to drain spigot to a bucket.
Toilet holding tank
Emergency location (not the bowl, but the tank).
Several gallons of water available in holding tank.
Purification if used for drinking.
Store-bought water bottles
Easy storage of manageable sizes.
Portable. Easily manageable.
Good size for hiking or bugout with backpack.
Home storage containment
Purpose built water storage vessels.
5-gallons up to 55-gallon drums (or larger).
Food-grade, designed for water storage.
Common recommendations of 1 to 3 gallons per person, per day.
Keep storage out of sun and heat.
Drainage and water runoff areas.
Rain gutters into barrels.
Filtration needed for drinking depending on method of collection.
METHODS OF WATER TREATMENT
In most cases, water should be filtered first to remove sediment or cloudiness. Some water filters are good enough to remove much, most, or even all pathogens, which may eliminate the need to further purify the water for drinking. Be aware that the ‘water still’ method is the only method on this list that will separate ‘pure water’ from chemical toxins which may be present in the water (know your water source).
Purifies any water (including salt water) into pure water.
Water is boiled to steam.
Routed through tubing, steam condensed back to water.
Copper tubing is commonly used.
Method of boiling required, and fuel source.
‘Still’ needs assembly and adaptation to boiler.
Many online ‘how-to’ plans available.
Probably the safest, non-chemical purification method (along with the Water Still).
Once the water reaches a rolling boil (212° F, 100° C), it has become safe to drink.
or 160° F (70° C) for 30 minutes.
or 185° F (85° C) for several minutes.
Save fuel, don’t boil longer than necessary.
Solar heated to pasteurize.
WAPI (Water Pasteurization Indicator) 158° F
Regular unscented bleach, hypochlorite (concentration 5.25 – 6 percent).
Newer bleach is now 8 percent (okay to use).
CDC / WHO recommendation.
8 drops per gallon (1/8 teaspoon).
Let stand 30 minutes.
16 drops per gallon for cloudy water.
Have an eye-dropper.
Liquid Bleach loses its potency over time. Half strength in one year.
Granular Calcium Hypochlorite.
Make your own bleach.
Indefinite shelf life.
Caution: Corrosive to metals. Do not breathe in.
To make a stock of chlorine solution (do not drink this!) dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon (about one-quarter of an ounce) of high-test (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite for each two gallons (eight liters) of water. To disinfect water add one part of the chlorine solution to 100 parts water to be treated.
Disclaimer: Do your won research for conclusions before using Calcium Hypochlorite.
5 drops per quart.
20 drops per gallon.
Wait 30 minutes.
Quick simple method for hikers.
Advisable not to use this method for more than a few days in a row.
Do your due-diligence regarding choosing methods of water purification.
Clear plastic water bottle, 2 liters or less.
Direct sunlight for 6 hours (clear water).
Several days if the sun is clouded.
Yes, this really works…
UV-pen and other portable UV methods – require batteries.
1 or 2 tablets per quart.
Follow instructions on package.
Easy for hikers.
Reverse Osmosis (RO)
Requires a head of pressure in the supply line.
Very pure water output.
e.g. Big Berkey.
Capacities from one to several gallons.
Filters thousands of gallons.
Quality filter will last a very long time.