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?