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Prepper Series Part 2: Water

This second part of the series is equally as important as part 1, food. Lets face it, you cannot live without water. You can fast from food for a long time. You can survive without a meal. You cannot survive without water. Water is necessary for cooking, hygiene and sanitation. There are two kinds of water important to preppers. Potable (which means safe to drink) and grey water. Potable water is needed for drinking, cooking, and dental hygiene. Grey water is good for cleaning, laundry and bathing. This water is safe to be dumped into a garden or a yard. We will get into the different aspects of both of these types and things and information you may or may not know about your current habits.

Drinking water is a must. The average human needs 63 oz. to drink a day. That’s 256 oz. or 7.2 liters for a family of 4 a day. That means, you will need 112 16 oz. bottles of water for one week. We haven’t even calculated water for anything else. Water is important, probably the most important necessity. When pondering how much water you will need and how long you want that water to be available, the storage options become increasingly important. Space will be a big factor, finding the right location for your water and being able to store enough of it will depend on what you have to work with. If you have a basement or root cellar, if you have access to creeks or streams or even a spring. Maybe there is a well on your property, or a cistern. Now is the time to start investigating and researching what you can do.

There are many different options for the types of containers you can store water in, but all stored potable water must be kept in a cool, dry place. This is to keep bacteria and algae from growing. They need light to grow and the lack of light will stop this. I have seen many reviews on containers and the best are a colored BPA free plastics, glass and stainless steel. Never clear glass or plastic. You may keep grey water in clear containers with a little bit of bleach to prevent build up of unsafe bacteria since it will not be ingested. Whatever type of container you try, do your research and decide based on your needs, what you can afford and have room to store.

These are some of the container options.

  1. A military grade 5 gallon water can from Scepter. I have seen reviews on this can and it is a good option for storage at home. It is a manageable size and many reviewers have stated that if you start with filtered water or spring water when filling, you do not need a water preserving device, even up to 3 years of storage. There are water filtration safety tests you can purchase to test water that has been stored. Some of these tests take 48 hours to show you results so do not wait until you have to drink from them to find out. When full this container will weigh approximately 50 lbs. You must be fit enough or have someone with you who can lift this container for use. These are not stackable when full. Storage space must be well thought out.
  2. Individual water drinking pouches. This option I love because it is easy to calculate how many each person will need if you are to ration them wisely. These are not convenient for washing and other necessities but to sit at a meal and each person receive one, this is ideal. The pouches are guaranteed to remain fresh and clean for five years of storage. They are manageable and come in cases so you can purchase these and stack them to store in a cool, dry place. I still think other water options should be available but this one is easy to use and keep count.

3. Another option is a large water tank. These can be very expensive and require a lot of work to set up. The options for this method are endless. It will absolutely depend on your finances, space and time. These tank options can be for 10 gallons up 20,000 gallons. There are tanks on stands for gravity fed pressure, there are vertical tanks, horizontal tanks, underground tanks, cone tapered bottom tanks. For a look at the option go here to Plasticmart.com. This option is very good for a long term storage option. Secondly, this containment system is useful if you want to collect rain water and use it for pastures, gardens and livestock.

There are more options than just these three for storage but they are similar or only differ in style. Basically, glass, food grade plastics and stainless steal containers are the best and pose the least amount of risk of contamination. Research different water storage options that will fit you best. Check here for more tips.

Another water source besides storage is a well. Digging a well on your property can help ensure that you have a source of water, even though it will require filtration. Before even attempting this avenue, you MUST check with your local department of water for codes and ordinances because it is illegal to dig your own well in many places. The cost of having a professional come do it can cost between $15-20 thousand dollars. You will also want to have a filtration system installed in a pump house. Big Berkey sells stainless steal drip water filtration systems that performs extremely well and is perfect to place in a kitchen for daily use.

Filtration, as mentioned before, this is necessary to safe drinkable water. You can use a water filter for amounts ranging from an individual thermos, all the way to a community sized filtration station that processes 60 gallons an hour. It will depend on your budget, how many people you are supporting and space. There are water filters that are perfect for collecting water from lakes, rivers and streams. There are filters for a water bottle that allow you to fill and drink quickly. These different filters are going be a life saver when it comes to potable water. Just because the water is clear doesn’t mean it’s safe. Also, rotate your water storage, this should be done yearly. If done correctly in the right containers and kept out of sunlight and severe temperature changes, you can keep your family safe by storing your own drinking water long term.

Grey water is biologically safe to dispose of down drains or in your own yard. Most people do not know that the water in your community is full of contaminants that are beyond your control. There is now a high level of pharmaceutical waste found in most water filtration plants in cities across the united states. Dumping in toilets and down drains does not make the chemicals and drugs go away, they just disperse into the whole system. Much like our garbage, there is no “away”. It all goes somewhere. Most of the chemicals people use to clean their home and even their bodies are not gray water safe. Shampoos, conditioners, pharmaceuticals, and strong cleaning agents go down your drain and into the system to be recycled back into our homes. There are cleaners and products you can use that do not contribute to this problem. We do our part by making our own detergent and using gray water safe ingredients. I could take my laundry water and dump it in my garden and it would do no harm.

Why do I mention this? Well, there are honestly becoming fewer and fewer ways to find and access fresh clean water, or even safe grey water. We have long thought of doing a rain catchment system at our home because the benefits are great. They were at least. Rain water catchment means water for animals and gardens and outdoor cleaning without reliance on the grid. However, in recent years, scientists ( U.S. Geological Survey) have found an ever increasing amount of microplastics in the rain water. They can be filtered out but that means getting a special filter for your tap or home. They have to be able to reverse osmosis filter the water to a 0.001 micron because the plastic pieces are as small as 2.5 micrometers. This makes me hesitant to even harvest rain water unless I can also filter it appropriately. I will say that you can’t stop the rain and it will fall, on your lawn, your garden and you. So, the best we can do is try and illuminate the sources of toxins we can control.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you will take the information found here and elsewhere in your studies one step further. A challenge for you, the reader. It won’t be awful or horrible, it might actually be fun. Take a day, or better yet a weekend and cut the cord. Turn off the electricity, if you can (mind the fridge and freezer) and turn off the water. Now, many studies say modern people use 165 gallons of water per day. Lets be more practical. Without the shower head running, the faucet running and using just what you have. How much water do you really need in one day? For example, if you are a family of four, save a gallon per person to drink. A gallon per person to clean, and a 5 gallons for dishes and laundry. So for two days, that’s 26 gallons for a two day experiment. Turn off the water in the house. Turn of the electricity if you are feeling bold, and complete the meals, clean up and normal chores using only the water available and the daylight you have. This is a lot of fun for our kids because it’s like camping. They play card games, build forts and enjoy the experience of quiet and a slower way of living. We buy emergency candles at the dollar tree, they have a pack of 4 hour candles which is a great deal and a “hint” for those looking to stock up on supplies.

Wait, I forgot to mention something very important. Toilets. Yes, the Loo, the John, whatever you call it. This is one of the most wasteful parts of the modern home. Toilets can use upwards of two gallons of water per flush! Ever heard of a composting toilet? Composting toilets employ a bucket, usually placed beneath a bench seat with a hole and sawdust for dry material. You do your business and toss the sawdust over your mess. When the bucket is full it is replaced and left outside until you can compost the mess. (Waiting around 16 weeks to create a humanure pile). This compost should not be used for two years. If this isn’t comfortable for you, I know for many it isn’t, then you will need to save more water just for the toilet. If you have a bathtub, I recommend filling it up and using that water for flushing. Keep all small children locked out of that bathroom area!

This challenge is a great way to find out just what you are made of and what tools you may still need to learn. Organization will be critical and keeping everyone thinking a step ahead. Most notably in the aforementioned loo department. You will have to carry your water to the toilet, and also keep some for washing hands. This experiment can be a teachable moment for all. I hope that many of you will try it. The next part of our series will be necessities to have in stock. Anything none food related. I hope you will return and join us for the next blog post.

And as always,

Love, Bluegrass Homestead

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