Let’s talk about water storage

by Cliff C

I’ll start off by saying that I’m in west Georgia and the bulk of our state has been under drought conditions for several years. I believe it was two years ago when our local reservoirs were almost empty (it gave the county a good chance to clean out the old tires (close to 1000) that had been tossed into the water over the years and to clean out the old sunken boats, junked cars and other trash and garbage that has accumulated over the years. The reservoirs have pretty much refilled and since there is no housing boom and so many houses sitting empty they will remain pretty close to full for the foreseeable future.

The only thing that will change that is if the drought continues. Our drinking water comes from a couple of very large pumping stations and several reservoirs around the county. In grid down situation the pumps would work for an estimated 72 hours before the fuel for the generators will run out and the ability to keep the pumps running will become iffy. The wastewater treatment plant will be in a like situation and they return cleaned water to the Chattahoochee River which is the main source of drinking water for most of Atlanta and a large part of the state.

The river has a natural beginning and is supplemented by opening the dam on Lake Lanier almost daily to keep the river running. We share that river water with 2 other states. Currently, Lake Lanier is about 15 feet below full pool and is dropping. So, public service supplied water sources will not stand up to the demand very long after a grid down or disruption.

So, with public water sources in question, I have to look around to see what local sources. There are 3 wet weather streams within a mile walk or so from here. Unfortunately, they are exactly what they are named; they only run when the weather is wet. Even though we’ve had some periodic rain showers, it has not been enough to keep the streams flowing.

No public pools, no private pools around within walking distance, no easy water source so, the only option is storing water.

I have tried various methods over the years for putting up water. At one point I had 10 55 gallon drums filled and sitting in the basement. I have a hand pump and put in the chlorine bleach and that left 550 gallons of water available. It took up a lot of space, was hard to move around and when it comes down to brass tacks, 550 gallons isn’t all that much.

I got rid of those and bought a couple of king size water-bed mattresses and built a 2X6 wooden frame around the first one, put in the liner and bladder and then filled the first one (no idea of the total gallons), then put a ž inch plywood sheet over that and built another 2X6 wooden frame to go around the next one, put the liner in and then the mattress and filled it with water. I took all the usual conditioning steps.

Again, this took up a lot of room and the vinyl the mattresses were made of seemed to be reacting to normal light, not just sunlight, so I ended up emptying those and tossing them. On the interesting side, when I cut the bladders up so I could move them they were full of algae. So, another great idea didn’t work.

I bought several of the 8-gallon containers from Wal-Mart. Filled them, stacked them and left them alone. Later as I waked by I saw a small puddle forming and one had sprung a leak. The other 7 or 8 are still intact but that’s still not enough water.

I have a 275-gallon water tank in the basement that I direct the air conditioning and dehumidifier condensate too and I keep it right about the 250-gallon mark. It’s gray water, not for drinking and I don’t believe it could be purified in order to drink but I could be wrong. We have 3 adults, 2 commodes and 2 dogs so we will need a source of gray water just to flush the commodes. We are on a septic system, not sewage, and my system is a pump system so as water fills the main tank it spills over into another 1000 gallon tank and when that reaches a certain level a pump comes on and pumps that water out into the field lines. I consider all that black water.

The pump and alarm (pump failure alarm) are both tied into the mains for the house so in a grid down situation I’m not sure how long it would be before I would have to uncap the 2nd tank and hand pump the water out. Nasty water, it would make a mess and smell but otherwise all the water would come back into the house. I’ve bough a small generator but not sure how long it would hold out or what to do if the pump in the tank goes bad.

Now, I do keep between 40 and 50 cases of bottled water on hand all the time. That’s not going to last all that long when all your food is dehydrated and has to have water to be edible. I have a dozen half-gallon bottles in the storm shelter in case we get stuck there but in the global scheme of things that’s not much water either. I have a “bathtub bob” for each of the two tubs and I think each one will hold about 60 or 70 gallons (too lazy to look it up) and sit in the tub and we will be able to pump potable water from them. That’s provided we get enough warning before the public water service goes away.

I have rain barrels at all my rain spouts but with our spotty rain most of them are sitting really close to empty right now.

So, those were my options and the steps I took. I know I could order a large bladder or series of bladders from the people who make water tanks and they could be filled from the faucet at the back of the house as long as I have a water safe hose. Again this would be time-consuming, it’s not something you want to leave in place just in case (kills the grass it sits on and looks really unsightly but given enough thought and time that would be an option. Failing to get them in or to get them filled will be a bad situation.

So, what other options are there? You can not drill a well here. Most of Georgia sits on a giant granite slab (see the pictures of Stone Mountain if you get a chance to google it) so any digging down is going to be met by rock. Also, since all the houses within the immediate 5 or 6-mile circle are all on septic tanks so black/gray water is going into the ground water all the time. We also have no idea of how much chemicals have gone into the ground water over the years from the asphalt manufacturing plant (ah, asphalt in the morning, it doesn’t remind me of war). There is a quarry but the “quarry lake” is pretty much dried up.

So, ideas? We are not bugging out. I have older family members and responsibilities to my neighbors so we’re going nowhere. I have also been told by GEMA that even though they have an evacuation plan, there is nowhere for people to evacuate to. One state is not going to take all the people from another state in, share their supplies and welcome us with open arms. So, here we sit. Also, all the routes out of here are easily blocked as we saw when we had an epic flood 3 or so years ago and there were no roads in or out of our county that weren’t underwater and if you didn’t have a boat you were going nowhere.

I’d love to hear what you are doing; what you consider a reasonable amount of water to put up (no way I can see to have a years worth of water on hand unless you have your own well or your own water tower), and how you store it. I believe when the SHTF there are going to be a lot of thirsty people around with no access to potable water. What do you think?


  1. First of all, you have to realize you will not use as much water as you do now and survive unless you have a well and septic system and something to pump water with. If you are on city water and sewer, you will not be able to flush the toilets very many times before it starts backing up. We have several hot water tanks in series to store and cycle water for short term use. We also have a large rain catchment system and filter systems to purify the water. Where I live the surface ground water is laden with pesticides and fertilizers and is not consumable. We also have two portable bucket style toilets in the garage for camping and emergenies.

  2. Carl McKenzie says:

    I’ve thought about using Stainless Steel Kegs for water storage at my house. I have about 10 old kegs that I can disassemble and clean out. It’s not nearly the amount of water you are talking about but at 15.5 gallons a keg, I’m looking at 155 gallons of water in relatively indestructible tanks, that don’t allow any light to get in, which in turn will help inhibit bacteria growth. I’m in California and 150 gallons is a good start for my wife, my dog and two cats in the event of an earthquake or such. Obviously in a nationwide SHTF situation, it’s not nearly enough, but I can worry about that part next. My first concern is the looming big earthquake and no access to drinking water and food. We can always leave and go somewhere else but until then I need to keep us covered for the few weeks that we may be stuck with no water, food, or power. 155 gallons should easily cover us.

    If the kegs are treated the same way you would for beer brewing (a very sterile environment with oxygen removed and CO2 filling the void), as you pump the water in, the head space stays sterile and filled with CO2. Slightly pressurizing the tanks should keep the water clean and contaminate free.

    I can store the kegs in the garage, placing boards on top of them to make shelving areas. There won’t be need for CO2 to pump the water out of the kegs in time of need as a hand pump can be used.

    There one big downside that I’m trying to sort out.:

    Chlorine – not good with stainless steel. Reverse Osmosis would be the solution, but a slow solution. I do have access to a small Reverse Osmosis system at my parents house that they use for drinking water at their kitchen sink, but I haven’t solved how to get 155 gallons out of it and into the kegs in a reasonable amount of time.


    • Rabid Conservative says:

      Not entirely sure what problem you are specifically trying to solve. You said that you would be storing water in sterilized stainless steel kegs, which as you correctly point out, would inhibit algae growth because they block light. But assuming you wanted to treat your water before you drank it or used it, why not simply move water from kegs into a plastic container or barrel and then treat it with chlorine? Alternatively, you could treat your water with iodine, which I would not think would react negatively with stainless steel. And while a reverse osmosis filtration system is great to use when you have questions about the quality of the water you are drinking, why not simply use a gravity fed, activated charcoal filter for your water? It should work faster and help to filter out any funny tastes (like iodine) that might have developed while your water sat in storage.

      Just my 2 cents!

  3. Lived in Texas and our full reservoir got contaminated by an oil/chemical spill. So bad they built a pipeline to another reservoir. We were buying bottled water the whole time.
    I have my property up for sale. Moving farther out, closer to family, and more rain.

  4. I would not be worried about killing the grass or how the tanks look in the yard. You can either use an above ground swimming pool for water storage or tractor supply or other places have water storage tanks. Long term water will need stabilizer in it. As long as you have filters/purifiers/or a distiller as needed and used properly water should be safe. The distiller is your best bet long term. If possible you could bury water storage tanks depending on how close to the surface the granite is or build a wooden decorative fence around it if you do not like the looks of it.Maintain a rain catchment system method always. We are on septic gravity and do not have to worry about that but we also have the two bucket commodes as a back up just in case something happens to the septic. We get 70″ of rain a year so water is a plenty. Plus our ground is soft and wells are easy to install. We still keep plenty of spare water anyways. They sell canned water also that will keep for 30 years.

  5. We primarily get our water from the well, but we have a very redundant water supply. We also have a gravity line from a creek uphill. That creek goes underground to resurface about 300 yds from our house on a national wildlife refuge. There is another creek within 3/4ths of a mile from our house. The Columbia river is just over a mile away for a possible fifth supply point.

    Our well system uses a 500 gal holding tank that keeps a 150 gal (+/-) supply of water after total draw down. Our creek supply is still used by many homes around here as their primary source of potable water.

  6. Well, personally I’d be less worried about tanks outside killing the grass and being unsightly, than being thirsty in an emergency. That seems like the best option to me. Or the 55 gallons tanks in the basement. Nearly any water can be purified with the right equipment to be drinkable. I guess at this point, you have to decide if you feel the risk of being without water is worth losing convenience and a more manicured look. For what it is worth, you can drill through rock most of the time, so a well may still be doable. Ours goes through many feet of rock, though obviously it is more costly etc… Regardless it sounds like your options are limited as far as staying there and not having outside help, so I would consider this to be your the top priority since you have shelter in place.

  7. In your particular circumstances, I’d say that water catchment is your only option. You’d need to have T-posts, a T-post pounder, tarps and supplies for a plumbing system to collect and store the water. I’d recommend the 275 gallon IBC liquid shipping containers. Some IBCs are food safe. Even though they are not cheap, I’d buy them new from the manufacturer rather buy second hand ones that you have no idea what was stored in them. Ideally IBCs used for water storage have to be completely protected from light to prevent algae growth. I remove mine from the frame, wrap them in 6 mil UV stabilized black plastic and then return them to the frame. There are YouTube videos to show you how. Another option is to bury them, but that is a lot of work unless you have a backhoe. Keeping them out of plain view would be an important consideration in SHTF situation. When I first bought my property, I used water catchment as my only source of water for my animals. It was a huge pain in the rear. Make sure your tarps are made of non-toxic material like polyethylene and that they are UV stabilized. Second put a T-post at every grommet. Otherwise the winds from thunderstorms will tear them up in a hurry. Sam’s Club sells a nice heavy duty tarp at a reasonable price and these have way more grommets, so you won’t need a T-post at every grommet. I set up a high side and a low side. The tarp is taut all over except at the center of the low side. I connect the tarps to the T-posts with heavy gauge aluminum electric fence wire. I put tarps in a row so that I can use one row of T-posts on two adjacent tarps. Where I live in SW Alabama, we get so much rain here, I could meet all my water needs with one or two 16′ by 12′ tarps. If you live in a drier climate, you’d need more tarps and more storage capacity to meet your needs during the dry spells.

    • NaturalFarmer
      I believe you are somewhere in my vicinity. I read your blogs and you have been very busy to accomplish so much. That was a good work-around on watering your animals. Hope all your endeavors go well.

  8. I drilled a well by hand to reach my water table. In fact, today I’m signing a contract with the history channel to use that video on a new show they are going to do called ,”How to .0″. I’m a little excited. They are interested in a couple other videos as well.

    • Fenland Prepper says:

      Hi BC, I also have plans to dig a well and was inspired by your video, just have to finish re laying the veg plot first so I dig it in the right place!

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Good to hear about the History Channel. Hopefully they’ll not make you out to be a Doomsday Prepper like Nat Geo did to many folks.
      Be sure and let us know when they plan to air it and what it will be called. I used to love History Channel; but, now I rarely watch it, because except for a few shows like Modern Marvels, they spend too much time discussing ancient aliens. I still haven’t figured out what they’re talking about when they introduce someone as an ancient alien expert.

    • Can you post a link?

  9. I use
    260 gallons per tank, small footprint, good quality
    I keep a couple of them in the garage

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Another place for tanks I’m familiar with is: tank-depot.com
      They have FDA certified potable water tanks in many sizes.

  10. I think that your only long term solution is to drill a well on your property and install a solar powered pumping system. I would look at the Grundfos SQ Flex pump and controller. Also install a large water tank, at least 2,500 gallons. It is always cheaper to store water than to store electricity.

  11. Our very small city has a very reliable water supply and our own water treatment plant. Barring a water treatment plant shutdown or someone poisoning the water supply or extreme drought, we are in good shape. Right now, I only have a gallon of store-bought water and a 24-pack of water bottles. I worry sometimes. It’s just me here, and I am not capable of storing large amounts. I am unwilling to store many gallon jugs of water because of the leaking that will occur over time. I do have a water bob.

    Although I am in N Alabama, I will never be affected by the Ga, Tn, Al water fight.

    Unless there is an extreme drought, all I have to do is set out my five-gallon buckets, the nasty 55-gallon water barrel, and the little red wagon to collect water for flushing.

    Really, I do worry when I read articles like this.

  12. Cliff, I suggest two things. First, obtain a solar system to power your pumps and store equipment spares in a Faraday cage. Second, if you can bury a septic system then you can bury water storage. So, either purchase an underground water tank for direct burial or purchase a concrete septic tank and use it as a cache.

  13. I live in SW Alabama. I can hit water at 6′. To reach good quality water, I’d have to drill down around 150′. I called to get an estimate to have a well drilled, and was told it would cost between $5-7k. There is no rock here to speak of… just red clay. I imagine that drilling a well through solid granite would cost between $10-15k or more. There is no guarantee that they would even hit water. Often times well drillers rely on data about licensed water wells drilled in the area. I’d bet that there aren’t many people who’ve paid to have wells drilled at Cliff’s location. That reduces the chance of success. Yes, you can look at an aquifer map, and in theory there should be water at a specific location, but that doesn’t mean that they will hit a good potable water source.

    If you already have a well, or can afford to have one drilled, then Emcomm advice is solid.

  14. Cliff C, how many inches of rain do u get per ave year? You can use that to estimate how many gal’s of rain u can catch & store per year. Compare that to how many gal’s your household uses per year. If u need more, increase the amount of rain u can catch & store. Do u have a metal roof on your house & outbuildings?

  15. Anonamo Also says:

    Air conditioning water CAN be purified. I would run thru a filter as collected, If this my primary source. (This is how Israeli army has water in desert). I would buy new dehumidifier,( Buy biggest one available they are rated for amt of moisture they remove from air.) and use it for this purpose.cost about 350$, for unit,last time I checked, free plans on internet…supplies like hose for refrig ice supply, air conditioning filter..clamps…mostly common household items.
    I would filter with zeolite first to remove impurities being pumped in the air, then with a Just water filter set. Need solar power anyway, would set up vertical axis for more charging/ several batteries for power storage.DIY’s possible .
    The Just water filter , does come in one that filters flouride and chlorine, must be ordered from vendors who stock or ask specifically for those from company.
    Then there is the barrell filter system that alternates charcoal, sand , small rock..would be a fairly cheap backup to have charcoal and clean sand on hand…with clean food grade barrell
    Cistern? or large water tank… in islands they put them on roof..
    Reduce water use thru portable toilet. Could compost the waste.
    . Re use water,.. water for rinsing dishes, becomes next wash water, and then water for flushing toilet…or putting on plants.
    With best use drinking and cooking dehydrated food preps should be about 2 gal or less day./person. Directions on rehydrating food most call for excess liquids to be drained off. use that water!for making soup/stew.good reason to keep some canned goods and use them with the dehydrated foods. All those people you feel responsible for should also be storing water.soda bottles and juice bottles cna be used if bleached thoroughly. bleach bottles(plain only) can be used, but difficult to stack.. would make a good float,(empty with caps and paracord.. if fyou needed to swim out, and there were ones who were too weak/unable to swim.) Just thinkin’

  16. Hello wolf pack, I am a big fan of this site and have learned so much over the last several years. I live in a hurricane prone area and know first hand about not having enough potable water on hand for emergencies. I can tap water when I am canning, iF there is room in the canner I will fill up jars to take up space in the canner so that my jars will not fall over when canning. Once I get a case of water jars stored up I place them back in the canning jar box and store them under the bed. I always have clean potable water to cook with. The water is a little flat when you open the jar however I just pore it back and forth between jars to add oxygen back into the water and is fine.

    I know this is not a solution to this problem. But it is food for thought. I also use previously used canning lids and most of the time they seal. If they don’t i just let them cool and use the water in the garden.

  17. Robert T. says:

    Have you thought about digging down far enough and putting in a water cistern that is a couple thousand gallons. You actually don’t even have to put it in the ground. They come in all sorts of sizes and if you set it up to get refilled by filtered rain water then you could be good to go if you get a tank that is big enough. I mean heck, those things are made to be filled with water. I would look into it if I were you. I live in Tennessee where there are lots of natural springs and plenty of rivers, so I have a lot of options. Anyway, hope you get it figured out.

  18. dig a trench near the house and line with a water tight membrane. Build a water tight top and cover with dirt. Redirect water from roof into the system. Very low tech.

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      CM Dutch: Something along that line is our primary back up plan for run off. A 20 min. downpour provides a staggering amount of H2O. Just ask MD how much he gets off his shed roof…….

  19. riverrider says:

    two 550 gallon collection tanks under the deck hooked to a rainwater collection system. even in drought you get enough to fill them. we used it exclusively during a two week outage from the derecho and never made a dent in even one tank. that was flushing, showers, everything. you could also gradually fill them from the tap. we keep a few cases of bottled, and ten 6 gallon jugs for those short term outages too. they sell tanks up to at least 13,000 gallons, not cheap but reasonable considering the alternative…..we have the pump sewage thing too. i made them use 110 volt, versus 220, pump so i can run it off my solar setup in a pinch. flip it to manual and pump it dry, we have about 2 to 3 weeks to built a johnny house, lol. we also rerouted the gray water so it takes a lot longer to fill the pump tank.

  20. Goatlover says:

    Water is one of those areas that we have pretty well covered…..we are in Florida and have five Artesian wells at our disposal. They are free-flowing water sources where you just turn a valve and the water flows due to the natural pressure from 800+ feet below the surface. We’ve dug a pond/canal system on our farm and have stocked it with fish for a protein source. One of our wells is constantly providing fresh water to the system so the fish aren’t in stagnant water. I also have a small rain catchment system on one of our smaller buildings, and we have a large swimming pool. And I have purchased enough pool shock chemical from a local supplier to clean our drinking water until the Lord returns!

  21. Anonamo Also says:

    Here is the link for the instructable on converting dehumidifier water for drinking..if no water, would be viable with solar, wind or other generator… Keep in mind the larger the capacity of the dehumidifier to remove water from atmosphere over 24 hours, the more sufficient your water supply could be with less run time… 24 hour run could replace drinking water for family of four, if non potable are also available… still thinkin’

  22. Seasoned_Citizen says:

    Having lived here in the “Rust Belt” for so long, sometimes I forget the blessings we have—abundant water. Great Lakes, inland lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, rivulets and yes, even year ’round springs everywhere.

    Our family has done its due diligence and have targeted three rather large (50+ acre) deep, spring fed ponds which we will access. They are on public lands, so no legalities seem likely. Think one is none, and two or three is one. Redundancy counts.

    Hauling the water to our home in 55 gal food grade barrels via p/u truck, car, or worse case–using a Harbor Freight dolly to bring it to the homesite. We tried using our horses and a wagon, but too much time/energy hitching up, und so weiter. There we let it settle, gross filter it, then Big Berkey or Doulton ceramic final filter it, agitate it, and top off with a few drops of chlorine bleach. Rebottle it in clear containers and let the sunlight get it if you wish for a few hours to be sure.

    As a “pilot project” until the dust settles and we use the local ponds, we too have about 100 cases of spring water stored in basement.

    Been raining cats and dogs here last three weeks–am kicking self for not setting up rainwater capture!

    • we live in rust belt. fracking here, caused earthquakes. benzene and other filth in water tables. got to check for these if you are near fracking. water tables often contaminated.
      some chemicals cannot be filtered out and some concentrate by boiling. read about it. wanted to see if water could be cleaned.
      does anyone know about removal of benzene?

  23. mom of three says:

    Yikes, like many we rely on our city, for water. I do have gallons on water, on hand to use for an emergency. I rotate it out and we use one gallon a month to put in our Keurig coffee pot, the other water goes through a Brita filter. I have a few cases of bottled water in each vehicles, and water in a largd dorm room refrigerator. None of this would last beyond a few week, only if you really watched how much you used. I have saved those gallon bottle’s, and put purified water, back in and they go in my freezer, if we loose power at least I have those few to use too. Water, is where we are the most weekest it’s something I’ve been working on but for a disaster, or for a long time issues we would be up the creek, without a paddle.
    Time to be a bit more serious about water..

  24. After moving back to east Tennessee, personal water storage is a huge subject to us.
    We were living in a major city in central America trying to sale property we inherited. The old waterlines were constantly busting, leaving hundreds of people without running water for days on end.
    We got by after storing water in our basement into two 55-gallon food-grade barrels and used them in more than once for water outages.
    I really hope this subject takes off!

  25. I purchased an above ground pool. 12′ diameter, 3′ deep (Amazon) . Purchased two 16′ x 16′ heavy duty tarps (Harbor Freight). PVC pipe (Home Depot) to hold top tarp with invert to shed water. 12 bungee’s (Harbor Freight) to hold tarps together. Two heavy duty water filters good for four individuals, 1 liter per day up to four years (times x two). 1,987 gallons of water plus two water bobs for tubs inside home. Am currently setting up water harvesting but in Phoenix area you have, maybe, 6″ of rain per year (July/August & December/January most water available). This is my plan and I am sticking with it.

  26. Hello all. My name is CeeCee. I am a newer member of the pack, having been hanging around the edges for only a couple of months. This discussion of water storage has interested me very much.
    I am an older woman who was born in 1937. I grew up in a small farming community in almost West Texas. There was no water, standing or flowing there, except for what water was in the farmer’s ponds, which we called “tanks”. There was no running water in the houses, and for sanitary use there was the “out house.” Now this was not a poor community of sharecroppers or rednecks. These were well to do, educated people, who lived where there was no access to water.
    What we did have was water catchment systems. At our house, and most of the neighbor’s houses, was a dug cistern, lined with concrete. We caught all of our water off the roof. My parents used some kind of chemical to purify the water, probably chlorine. I was too young to be curious about it.
    All water used had to be drawn up by bucket, rope, and pulley. We were very careful in our use of water. It was never wasted. Someone mentioned the reusing of water. I remember, as a child, being sent with the used dishwater to water the rose bush.
    I am not trying to paint a dismal picture here. We were happy and content with our way of life. For most of the people it was simply a continuation of a way of life lived by our pioneer fore bearers, who lived with exactly the same conditions.

    • Good to hear your comments CeeCee. Glad you ventured in from the edge. Good people. Here.

    • Anonamo Also says:

      CeeCee, My Mom was born in 38. I knew the Joys of the outhouse until I was 11. Running water, Was” sis go get a bucket of water.” Learned those lessons of conserving and re using early, but doing them now with a handy faucet takes some re-thinking…of daily tasks.
      If one has a deep, even a very deep well there are methods to get water out with a peice of pipe/even past the pump… bailer bucket type thing, with flapper in end and on a peice of rope secured with a bolt thru the end.. our well is almost 500 ft deep here, don’t really know static water line, but would be necessary to know to actually use. a pulley system, with dedicated space to hang the rope would make it more viable for deep water draw. We do have a neighbor or two that have dug wells. that currently have water levels intact… We have move coming soon, so this well will not be our primary concern. will pass ideas on to resident incoming.We know that to pull line from this well is not viable for us older ones, and won’t be for them either.a high a frame would give easiest lift for deeper systems. This is husbands department, and I keep encouraging him.We have so much going that as long as we have some difficult parts of the project done, we will be ok with water stored for a bit til he can change priority mode to complete. We do know static water level at new place.

      • Anonamo
        I laughed wwhen I read your post. Mom born in 1933 and I grew up with an outhouse until age 10. I was uptown though, we had running water in the kitchen sink. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter bathing from that sink. Still… hot and cold running water! I remember appreciating it even then but don’t remember what came before. Dad got the bathroom built when I was 10… such luxury.

        • Chuck Findlay says:

          My grandma used an outhouse till the late 1980’s. My dad finally had her house connected to the sewer system. She fought it, bur all it took was one winter to get her use to an inside flush toilet.

          I remember using that outhouse in the winter, that seat was COLD, you got your business done and got back inside…

      • Build a roof over the well about 6 ft high. Put a pulley system and crank, block and tackle. A weaker person can use this to lift heavy things, even water. The roof support will hold the crank, pulley, block and tackle set up.

        • Anonamo Also says:

          Linda, we were thinking for this deep well and long slender pipe to clear pump still in well. would need 9-10 ft to clear the long(6′?) pipe, thinking like a tall a frame. flapper in bottom of pipe to retain water, may need to dump from top of pipe depending on how DH does the pipe. Used pulley and pc of chain… not a problem to do it again. Just need to figure out getting past pump present in well and depth.

          • Maybe search: pump removal tool. I recall it being a 1&1/4 inch (maybe 1&1/2) T-handle pipe 6 ft long. Also, search U-tube. The 1 or so inch pvc pipe with a flap end would like get by the pitless adapter. I have only been reading on the topic. Much better than me around.

            • Anonamo Also says:

              Portia, the problem is not in knowing how to remove it, it is in dragging 350+? feet of pipe out of the well and it slick with soapstone and red clay… and being older and out of shape..
              .I couldn’t do that when I was young, but I watched my Dad and brother do it twice.It did not look like fun and their loud exclaimations gave me the idea they were not enjoying the process… I was a girl so I was ” in the way” I did not find it convenient…to argue… :>). There were other guys out there to help…Dad did not want me in the middle of it.. with the hoopla.
              I know this well has a 8″ stainless steel casing, so am fairly sure we can make a devise to get past the pump to get water from it.. .. don’t know how much water is above the pump… pressurized holding tank is below ground and minimal… maybe 60 gal.. we have other back ups.

              • Thanks for the wake up call. I need to do a trial run to get to the well’s water; after sterilizing the equipment, of course. Water, is so very basic, d’oh! Your note also inspired me to review simple machines (lever, pulley, incline plane, wedge, etc.)

  27. Ted Nuttle says:

    I have installed a manifold of several water heater tanks that the fresh water coming into my house travels through all 6 tanks. They serve only as storage but since all water comes into the house through these tanks, they are constantly refreshed. I have installed valves and a 12v pump that allows me to pump the water into the house lines should the need arise. I also have a 1600 gallon storage tank for my garden that I can fill in less than 2 hours should need to. I live in a small western Kansas town and we have a 20k gallon water tower and as luck would have it, I am the one in charge of the water system. In the event of an apocalyptic event, I can control how the water is pulled off. Additionally, I have a windmill on a private well located less than 40 feet from my house. I maintain a large supply of shock treatment for treating of the water as well as several Lifestraw filters

  28. OhioPrepper says:

    You present an interesting problem, and I think tank storage is probably your best option other than moving.
    One of the things that really interested us when we bought this homestead nearly 30 years ago was water. We have a good producing shallow well, and a creek along one side of the property that runs most of the year. We also have numerous ways to filter water, including a ceramic filter element that I’ve had around for some years and will be building into a bucket filter system in the next week or so, as soon as I pick up a batch of food grade buckets from a friend.
    We also keep several of the Seychelle water filtration bottles around with extra filter elements. Each element can filter about 100 gallons of water and will filter out and kill even viruses present in the water.
    Our well pump runs on standard 117 VAC and our portable generator will easily run it with some work hooking things up; but, with a little luck we will have a whole house generator installed and running in the next few months.
    There’s a water BOB that I’ve only used once for testing; but, available in a pinch as yet another backup.
    The house I owned before getting married and moving here was in the city and had a cistern, which connected to a gadget in the basement called a buckeye water lift, which was an old commercial ram pump used to fill a tank on the third floor of the house. The tank was gone; but, the plumbing and the water lift were still intact and I have it here to potentially use again.
    We always keep several gallons of water in the refrigerators in glass ½ gallon jars; keep several cases of spring water, and several 5 gallon buckets with loose fitting lids for flushing when the power is out for a short time.
    Finally, when I plumbed in the new propane water heater a few years ago, I added a leg to connect another pressure tank (the standard type for a well based system) and will be adding that when the money and the sales all line up. This would only be for additional water during a short term outage, without having to resort to buckets or the manual generator.
    Good luck and keep us posted with your progress.

  29. I have a larger dehumidifier that was used in a room that had mold and some dirt. Can I use that dehumidifier to produce water for flushing or for watering plants? I won’t be using it to purify for drinking. But, would a Berkey filter make it potable?

    • riverrider says:

      linda, dehumidifier water is clean, so long as the container is. it is literally indoor rainwater. i wouldn’t waste it flushing. filter it if you feel the need but its drinkable right out of the bucket.

      • Thanks. It was used, as I said, in a dirty area, a moldy area, so I am afraid. Even if I just cleaned the bucket inside, would it be okay?

        • anonamo Also says:

          To be safe, You could take the dehumidifier apart clean it with potable solution, bleach water…then I would rinse with distilled water to remove bleach from the fins…allow to dry put together. look at the instructable. Directions there…. i posted link on… They use a filter to make sure water is safe…

  30. if you are on mains water you can set up large plastic tanks that fill automatically. put it as high as the mains water pressure will allow to gravity feed. even if you only use them to flush the toilets it keeps the water turning over. last place i had 2000L about 400 gallons back up that we could use for several days if mains went out. great thing is you can daisy chain the tanks in when you have the resources.

  31. 600 gallons in garage. 20 (30 gallon) drums from Lexington Containers. It took 2 trips carrying 10 drums each time.
    Also, filled plastic containers from bleach, Simply Juice, cleaners, etc…about 70 gallons.
    I plan to use the drums for rain catchers when empty.
    I have a huge pond/lake across the street in a nursery/produce seller’s back yard.
    I’m sure after stocking since 2008 I can find something he needs for barter!! 🙂 You won’t want to use tomatoes for TP!!

  32. Well may as well say it:
    Word of advice for now, not later.
    Google Earth and find every pond near your location.
    Have a good water purifying system and extra filters and spigots.

  33. patientmomma says:

    When we lived in the city, with all its codes and restrictions, my husband built a water storage system connected by PVC pipes. The basic idea was to connect the 55 gal food grade drums so the water could be manually circulated using a water hose. He built 3 horizontal stacking racks, each held 3 drums, and connected them using common plumbing items. The drums set on concrete blocks up against the back of the garage with an awning over them and a cedar fence around them. As we used the water we refilled it; if we didn’t use the water we recirculated the water thru the drums every so often, draining old water for gardening. We were going to tie it into the hot water tank system but we ended up moving instead. A friend who lived in a house built up off the ground installed a similar system under their house.

  34. Coast Ranger says:

    Hi – the handle comes from living in the Coast Range mountains of norther California. I live in the boondocks (40+ years so far). I have three tanks (two fiberglass and one polyethylene) with a total capacity of 4,700 gallons. They feed our rental by gravity. Our house runs directly from the well with a 30 gallon captive air tank. Our well is 450′ deep. We’ve been careful about using the well because of the drought. I’m hoping to add a 3,000 gallon tank soon for a total storage capacity of 7,700 gallons.

    One thing that is available around here are used “molasses” tanks. The hold 275 gallons and have a protective metal frame around them – about $1-200. I have one but it isn’t hooked up.

    Peace – CR

  35. I really. really would hate to give up all my modern conveniences, and you all have come up with many possibilities for avoiding the necessity, but I was pointing out that if there was no other alternative, if worse came to worse, we could manage without them. It has been done for a very long time.

  36. Roy w/.44 says:

    It seems to me that most are thinking way too small. We have a 3/2/2 we built 20 yrs ago and are not connected to the rural water system nor do we have a well. What we do have is a metal roof with gutters that lead to large poly tanks. In total, we can store 12,000 gallons when full. Just 2 people that use an average 50 gallons/day. The storage tanks cost about .50 cents/gallon, but we bought them one at a time. Pressure pump w/filters and cheap liquid bleach to control algae works fine for us. I will be happy to answer any questions.

  37. OK, Go to Prepare Wise, and get the 5 gal box, in the QTY you desire. SIMPLE Good People!

  38. Cliff C,
    I am late on this post – but I have been canning all week and not on the computer. My first question to you is how long have you lived in Georgia? I take it from your post that it hasn’t been very long. Summers here go through dry spells – it happens every year.

    I must state – for those reading who have never had the privileged of living in Georgia 🙂 – some of the descriptions you put in your post are NOT true. The state is not in a bad drought. While some counties out west are in a slight drought, it is not a bad one. In 2007, my husband and I hiked out to an island off the shore of the Lake Lanier because the water level was so low you could walk to it (and many others). The state was in a bad drought in the year 2000 and again in 2007. It got so bad in November of 2007, the Corps of Engineers said that soon the lake will be so low, the city of Atlanta would not be able to draw water from it. Well, that never happened, and as almost always, the state got lots of rain in the winter.

    Currently, Lake Lanier is not 15 feet below full. As of right now – as I type this, it is only 4 feet below full. Also, all spring it sat above normal level to be declared officially ‘at flood level’. The Corps of Engineers said they could not release the water because the Chattahoochee River was so full it would flood downstate.

    I don’t know what county you live in, but if you think you can’t drill a well, it isn’t because of the granite. The entire upper half of the state is sitting on granite. Wells can be drilled in all counties. However, each has different codes on how to drill one. (I have read many sets of building codes in the past few years as we look for some ‘rural’ property!) If you need to drill through a lot of rock, then it will be more expensive – but you can drill. I currently live in the gold belt of the state and we have granite as well, with nothing but clay sitting on top of it. Wells in the upper half of the state cost more to drill then wells in the south half of the state. However, I really don’t think your county has a ban on drilling wells.

    My suggestions for water storage are as follows:
    (1) Put the 55 gallon drums back in your basement. I know they take up a lot of room, but when you need them – you will need them. Rotate the water by using it to water house plants and the garden. Hauling the water in cans and buckets out to the garden is a pain. I know – I do it myself.
    (2) If no one around you has a pool, save up and get one yourself. It can be a small above ground pool and you can use it to cool off in our 98 degree summers with 98% humidity. Also, does the county have a pool? Ours does. If it isn’t close, get a bike so you can travel to it when/if it becomes necessary.
    (3) To continue on the ‘bike theme’, scout out where the streams in your county are. If they are not close, they will become much closer when you have a bike. After you use up the water stored in your basement and in your swimming pool, you can bike to the streams for water.
    (4) Do you know your neighbors? I am not talking about the people in your subdivision who are also connected to city water. I am taking about those that have a well in your county. Join some civic organizations and get to know these people. When the time comes, you can trade dehydrated food for water with them.
    (5) Keep using the rain barrels- and get more. If you set them up early this year, you would have capitalized on all the spring rain that created the flood levels in Lake Lanier. If not, then I am guessing with all the rain the north half of the state had in the past two weeks, your barrels are now full or almost full.

  39. Just for giggles, we hooked up a 275-gal IBC tote to just one downspout of our house.
    It really needs to be cleaned inside so we thought the coming rains would help “flush” it out good.
    Well, It’s Sunday and our tote is overflowing!
    I wish we’d put more thought in it before hooking it up.
    On a different note:
    Our old Sherriff was telling us about how our town “used” to be fed by spring water and that a nearby roadside creek is fed from the old waterlines from that spring. This creek is flowing even during the hottest/driest times of the year. We used to play in this creek as kids.
    This is along our walking path that we walk a couple times a week and as we were walking between rain showers, I was able to spot two of the 6-inch iron pipes gushing out water into the creek.
    This is less than one mile from our house.
    So, I’m glad to know I’ve got a good water source near-by.

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