Let’s talk about water storage

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  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 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 grid down 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 in to the ground water all the time. We also have no idea of how much chemicals have gone in to 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 no where. 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 no where.

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?

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. A years worth of water would be problematic. In dome third world contries where water service is spotty they have storage tanks on the roofs of houses. A little unsightly, and the roof has to be made to support it. When my parents lived off grid, and many others I know still do, they hauled water in a water tank on a small trailer. I think the trailer kit and tank came from Northern Tools or Harbor Freight. I believe the tank was around 500 gallons, generally enough for about two weeks. At the time they had an outhouse (no flushing) and did was at the laundromat.

    A workable solution might be to have a 350-500 gallon tank in your yard, with decorative landscaping, fence, wall etc around it and then a trailer mounted tank of the same size. Keep the fixed tank full and use the mobile tank to fill up from outside sources when possible. They are best used with a 12volt pump to move the water around. You want to buy a dedicated water tank since they have internal baffles that keep the water from sloshing while on the move.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      How about one of those self service car washes? You’d have to let the water run on rinse for a few minutes to get the soap and chemicals out of the wand and then it should just be clean water. Not sure how much comes out of those wands but it’s at a pretty high pressure and you might have to put a bunch of quarters in the machine but that’s one way to fill a tank.

      • charlie (NC) says:

        Cliff be careful with that. If memory serves me right some cites/counties require the car wash folks to store, filter and reuse their wash water. You might want to buddy up to the guy that runs your local car wash and ask him about it in an innocent, curious way.

        • Cliff in Douglasville says:

          Good point Charlie,
          It was an off the cuff thought. I know the car wash down the street uses city water but a couple of the other ones were set up with specially drilled wells and they weren’t subject to the same shutdowns as the ones that used city water during the last drought. They have signs that say they recycle their water so I guess they wouldn’t take kindly to someone rolling off with 500 or 600 gallons.

      • Might be best to contact the water company itself and pay a certain amount a month to fill the tank. A fire department might also be able to pump it full.

        Conversely,it could be taken to a river, stream, lake or so forth and filled up by pumping water to the tank. Then once home, that water could be plumbed to a filtering system for use in the kitchen. Maybe plumbed to the house, but have the water from the kitchen faucet plumbed directly into a drip filter. Just have to have a turn off a valve or use the sinks faucet to fill it up.

    • People in the Thumb area of MI have to do something similar because of a load of sulfur in the water. Most seem to keep the tank attached to the trailer to allow for a quick refill. This would have to put a heavy wear on the tires of the trailer though. Putting the trailer on blocks would work I guess. I also don’t know about the accumulation of bacteria in this water, but would assume you could get a testing kit and test it weekly. Depending on your availability for storage, you could look into something similar to a small greenhouse. You would be able to keep the water warm and naturally purified by storing the tank or tanks in the greenhouse (or build something that allows a lot of sunlight. Put those Mylar blankets to good use).

  2. Gosh, this all sounds pretty familiar, I have the 55 gallon drums in the basement, cases of bottled water, rain barrels, a siphon pump , a hand pump and a water filter. I have tried the bottled water that is over 2 years old and It is pretty bad tasting after that amount of time, so I suggest constant rotation. On the water mattress arena, I also found that algie grows even with retardant, I think it is relayed to the water being heated. We actually used ours for a bed. When we decided to empty and get a real bed, I got impatient and decided to take it out when there was about a half inch left.. You would have had to be there to see this comody . I can tell you that 1/2 inch of water is a lot heavier than you think. I got it stuck between the bedroom door and a bathroom door in the hallway. I ended up getting it in the bathtub and cutting it open to drain it… My wife still laughs about it.

    • Carl,
      Slept on a waterbed for years, and I concur with your experience on trying to move it with even a little water left in it. Water can be darned heavy.

      • I have to add a serious note here, on river water usage post SHTF. I did a little test on the nice looking fast moving creek water just down the hill from my house. I might also add that between the house and the creek is a set of pastures where horses, donkies, sheep, goats of various kinds, shetland ponies, chicken, emus , and last but not least Ilamas, and 1 alpaka are rotated from section to section. I took 1 gallon of the water and ran it through a trash filter, coffee filters and ceramic filters. It looked perfect to me. so I had it analysed at the state lab in Madison. I was dumb founded with the number of pathagens in the water still. The dude at the lab told me it was caused by the contamination from the animals and If I planned on drinking it, it MUST be boiled.. SOOOOOO be carefull and plan to boil your water.

        • Hunker-Down says:

          Would that be the White River?

        • Carl,
          Which brand of ceramic vilter? Some of these like the Big Berky are supposed to be good for pathogens without boiling or chlorination, and it would be good to know at least one that is not.

          • aqua rain/

            • Carl,
              I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Aqua Rain, but appreciate your efforts. Here are the general high level specs for the filter from their website.
              • Advanced Ceramic Technology removes protozoan cysts and harmful bacteria.
              • Silvered Carbon Bed adsorbs pesticides, organic chemicals, chlorine, tastes and odors.
              • Energy-Free System operates by gravity and requires no power or chemicals.
              • Hard Ceramic Shell may be cleaned up to 200 times and lasts for thousands of gallons.
              • Attractive and Hygienic Stainless Steel Housing incorporates a unique “Splash Shield” flange.
              • Manufactured to NSF Specifications and meets USEPA Bacteria and Cyst Purifier Standards.
              This reads like the perfect filter. Perhaps it’s time to do a few more personal tests.

              Out of curiosity, about how much did the water test cost?

        • If you dont mind me asking, what kind/make of ceramic filter did you use – was it pump forced or gravity?

          • charlie (NC) says:

            These are the filters I have in my preps. I have not tested them yet but I trust these folks.


            • charlie (NC) says:

              Apparently the limiting factor on the life of these filters is the activated carbon inside them. I’ve looked mine over carefully and I’m convinced that I can cut the seam between the black plastic base and the ceramic filter. Once that is done the activated carbon inside can be replaced with activated carbon like you use in acquarium filters. It’s available in lots of places, Walmart for one or any pet store. Then some silicone sealant or a hot glue gun or some other glue can be used to re-attach the base to the ceramic.

            • charlie,
              I have the same filters and got them from Cheaper Than Dirt. They have a list of tests and specifications, plus a good how to construction video on their site: http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/CAMP352-1.html

    • A lot of the stale taste to ‘old’ water is lack of disolved oxygen [DO] in it. Aeration will remove much of that stale taste. At the same time aeration will reduce chlorine residual. Pouring back and forth from glass to glass is one way to aerate. Shaking a half full bottle, or a bicycle pump run through an aeration stone from an aquarium supply store will also impart disolved oxygen to water. Once chlorine [Cl2] has killed the pathogens in your water the left over Cl2 is called residual, the amount used up is called Cl2 Demand. Cl2 demand can be caused by many other things; Ph, DO, disolved solids, suspended solids, turbidity, organic matter, chemical pollutants, Etc. When you test for Cl2 you are mainly looking at what is left over after demand has been satisfied. So the amount of Cl2 required to reach a residual depends on the demand, 2 drops of bleach in a gallon of low demand water can leave more residual than 5 drops in high demand water. 24 hours of contact time is best, but if you lack time at least 30 mins is a must. It is possible to get a residual of 1 to 2 mg/l after treatment, then none or a mere trace one day later. When treating to determine demand measure 30 min after treatment then again 24 hrs later. then adjust amount of bleach in the first dose to allow for demand, and leave sufficant residual. [Hope I didn’t get too deep for y’all]

      • Nope good info.. I tried the shake it up method and found it was ok, but nothing like fresh. Ok in an emergency….

  3. I’m not sure what to say here. You have spent a lot of time and mental effort thinking about storage. But I’m guessing you haven’t spent too much time learning about water treatment. If I had 250 gallons of condensate water I’d consider myself a pretty wealthy man water wise. And I would certainly plan on using it for drinking & cooking. I would just know I had to treat it first.


    I got interested in survival and prepping from my interest in backcountry backpacking trips. I’d like to point out that even in hot summer trips hiking 10-15 miles/day with a heavy pack and using water for the dehydrated food I still only carried 4 liters per person per day.

    So if you realize you won’t be showering, washing dishes in a sink full of water, running a washing machine etc. You can get by with a gallon per day. That makes your 10 55 gallon drums a 1 year survival supply. Just don’t waste it (not even for flushing). And if you are comfortable and practiced with water treatment, then you won’t feel that all your storage be ready to drink right out of the container, rather it is a good source to draw from and then treat to its intended use.

    Thats my point of view.

  4. We are completely dependent on infrastructure for our water, sewage, heat, and electricity. As a result I have been searching for alternatives of all and property that will need minimal infrastructure from outside. Water has been the one, at least in a short term situation, that has troubled me the most.
    When we had the plumbing redone, I had a spigot and drain installed in our cellar (dirt floored basement) so I could fill and drain drums and cans of water. Again works for a short term disruption with some notification. Our open water sources are runoff through a Superfund Area so I’m not sure how much I want to depend upon them.
    Thanks for putting your thoughts into this article, as I am still trying to come up with a good solution.

  5. Hunker-Down says:


    Excellent article with a good explanation of your circumstances. It will help me get my head out of the sand and review our options from a wider perspective.
    We’re like you, staying in place. We are ‘old’ and cant shoulder a 50 lb. ruck and hoof it to anywhere.

    I am curious as to why you got rid of the 55’s?

    My personal attitude towards bladder containers is that they would, over time, sprout ‘green gook’ and using a strong enough disinfectant would cause the fabric to deteriorate.
    We have six 30 gallon food grade barrels holding 180 gallons of disinfected water. I plan on refilling the barrels with disinfected water annually. I estimate that when the s hits the fan we will start using that supply at the rate of 10 gallons per day, depending if family members move in. As time passes and we learn more dual purposes for the water, that daily rate will get closer to 5 gallons par day. So, we have 18 days to learn conservation and resupply tasks.

    Two items important to us is to be able to test the chlorine content to insure the safety of drinking water, and using good quality filters as a second safety check. With both, we can use lake or river water to resupply us if the well pump will not operate.

    Your septic issue is gross! Can you, in a SHTF situation reroute that water 30-40 feet from the house (where the inspector can’t find it)? Maybe add an outhouse to divert that material to another destination (a hole in the ground)?

  6. This is one of the hardest things for city dwellers to accomplish.
    Just the act of storing water some place is hard to do.
    At least you have a place that you can put it.
    And as with food it has to be checked and rotated out.
    Seems nothing about survival is easy. But life is fraught with complications.
    If you grow a garden rotate your water out on it. Then refill and start the process over.
    I do not know how much to save. But it is probably enormous.
    There is the main saving for drinking and cooking.
    Then you have to wash dishes and clothes.
    And then there is washing oneself. Spit baths here we come.
    So on the git go you will have to ration water. Summers will be worse.
    But where there is a will there is a way.

    • Hi Ellen,
      When SHTF don’t waste water on showers, flushing or cleaning unless absolutely necessary. For showering, two words, baby wipes. For Cleaning, cleaning wipes. Save the water for drinking. Almost any water source can be purified for drinking. I’m surprised at the number of people who have not had to re-claim and drink brackish water.

  7. riverrider says:

    cliff, the water from your dehumidifier and a/c is as clean as you can get, distilled, as long as you keep the appliances clean. otherwise run it thru a berkey or similar filter. we hooked up 2 each 550 gallon farm tanks to the gutters and even a small rain fills them up. we also replumbed the house so all graywater is routed away from the septic. we can capture this if needed to flush. we have a septic pump too. there should be a manual switch on it. if there is adequate warning of storm or whatever, we switch it on and pump it down to empty. it will take a week or more to fill even with the graywater going in. in grid down i will run the genny for the 15 minutes it takes to pump it down. one thing though is that we must learn to use less water. a garden sprayer can replace the shower and uses about 2.5 gals. we won’t shower every day, just wash off like the old folks did. we capture the shower water and clothes washing water to flush with. the secret is to put the water in the tank and flush instead of pouring it down the drain. new toilets are designed to get max flush by the action of the water instead of quantity of water. we got it down to 5 gals a day for 2 people while living off grid in a cabin and building our house….hope this helps. great post, it should get people thinking.

    • RR, thanks for the great advice from someone who has obviously worked it all out for themselves in a real world setting. So you are pretty confident that you can get by on about 5 gallons per day for two people with toilets (grey water flush), sponge baths, and limited clothes washing (in a bucket I’m guessing). That means a good rain filling your 1100 gallons refills you for about 200 days. Seems very sustainable. Thanks again. A much better reply than my give up all niceties and you’ll only need a gallon/day comment.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Hunker Down,
      Good question on the 55 gallon drums. My daughter finished college and ended up moving back in with us. She has the newest car of any of us so my decreed that she and daughter would be the ones parking in the basement garage and my vehicle would stay outside. That was fine but there was the tiny problem of all those water drums. Wife gave me about 6 hours notice that they had to be gone. Dang things were really heavy getting them on their sides so I could roll them out of the basement and the open them up. Daughter’s car fit very well with all that extra space. I put the drums behind my shed with the hope that I would be able to refill them and then do something to keep them freezing during the winter.
      I have one good neighbor and one side and a real witch on the other and she was tapping on the door saying that my backyard looked like a junk yard with all those blue barrels out there and she was turning me in to the code enforcement people so all the drums went to the dump.
      It was a sad day since I’ve regretted not having them over and over again.

      • Dude,

        Your wife “decreed” where you’d be parking? Your wife gave you a six hour deadline, and you complied? Then your neighbor intimidated you into getting rid of something you care about? I am not saying any of this to be mean to you, but when I read your post it made me sad. I think you need to stand up for yourself. It’s a new day man. Take your water hose out to the garage, use a sledge hammer to bust a hole in the windshield of your wife and daughters cars and fill the cars up with water since they made you get rid of your drums. Then kill your neighbors dog/cat, use it’s blood to to write the county code enforcement offices number on the front of her house, and catapult the dead pet through her window. My neighbor hasn’t said a negative word to me since he saw me hacking a goats head off with a machete one day as I was upping my meat stores. You’re going to feel like a whole new man.

        Your welcome,

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      I guess I’m a victim of believing a lot of what I read on the internet. Most say the condensate isn’t drinkable but I never heard a real good reason why. I run bleach through the A/C until to keep the algae down and run bleach through the pump from the dehumidifier and the water looks fine and smells fine. I’ll check in to getting a good filter and see where that leads me. The 275 gallon tank fills pretty quickly depending on our current humidity. I emptied it last night and it was about 2 weeks since I’d emptied it last. Don’t have a garden in now so it all goes on the lawn.
      The septic situation is a real issue with me. I had just the 1000 gallon tank and about 300 feet of field lines when we started having problems with waste water coming to the surface. The guys pumped the tank but a lot of water gushed back in from the field lines that had rotted, been root invaded or just plain backed up. Had to get a contractor out and county inspectors plus a guy who bored perk holes all over my yard and once they got their heads together the only thing they would approve was the pump system with the additional 1000 gallon tank and new field lines at the end of the distribution line. Now I have this 4X4 sitting planted in my back yard with the switch box and alarm on it. The didn’t completely cover the vent/inspection hole in the water tank when they put it in and gas was escaping but I put a couple of hundred pounds of fill dirt on top and it’s fine now, just looks like a grave with electrical stuff as a headstone.
      This whole thing is going to require a whole lot more study and planning. I didn’t realize that I had such a huge hole in my preps until we started talking about how much water we’d need for the dehydrated food and for drinking.

      • Cliff,
        Most of the good filters (either bottle filters or the larger ones) will filter creek or pond water into potable water. Using it on condensate should not be an issue. If you’re a little paranoid you could pre-treat with chlorine and then let the water sit with no lid (except perhaps a towel) for a few days to outgas prior to filtering.

        • templar knight says:

          OP, I have a big supply of large coffee filters that I intend to use to pre-filter pond and creek water. It will take out a majority of the larger particulates in the water and will provide longevity to my more expensive filters.

    • templar knight says:

      Great job, River. When I bought my property, I made sure it had a well on it. Otherwise, it was a no go. I got lucky and my place also has a 4 acre pond/tank on it, as well as a small, clearwater stream. I also live less than 2 miles from a major river. Although it wouldn’t be my preference, I could get water there as a last resort. I also have two rain barrels under my gutters that I use for garden irrigation, and I could use it for flushing as well(I have a septic tank). And I have a Katadyn water filter, and another smaller filter for emergency use in my BOB. Plus the water straw and purification tablets. I’ve tried to cover water issues before anything else.

      Cliff, get the heck out of there, or get yourself a retreat. I don’t see how it will be possible for you to bug-in a place where you don’t have access to year-around water. Plus a bad neighbor and HOA/code rules and regulations are going to be a continuing problem. If you can’t have blue, plastic barrels in your backyard, what the heck can you have? That doesn’t seem like junk to me. Sounds like you have a nosy, troublesome neighbor. Good luck.

      • riverrider says:

        tk, i took water for granted before i set up the cabin to stay in on weekends while we built the house. it really opened my eyes to the amount of water we wasted, and how hard it is to get if there’s no power. i’m embarrassed to say i only got the water situation covered recently, after most other preps were well on the way. i’m glad i have it now though. you were smart to get water covered first…..my advice to cliff is to buy a backhoe. post shtf, nosy neighbors will take a missin’. take care.

  8. If you can’t move away from an arid area, the first thing to think about is reducing your water usage. The less you use, the less you’ll need.

    If you can get away with it, you might consider digging an outhouse if/when the SHTF. Or get/make a composting toilet. (See also the Humanure Handbook, you can find it free online) If you don’t have enough land to compost your own poo without fouling your water or living space, you’ll want to find a waste area away from other people where you can safely compost it.

    Wet wipes are great for if you are trying to save drinking water and you want to have a cat bath. You can make your own wet wipes with a little water, a little soap and a little alcohol. You could use rum or vodka for this, or rubbing alcohol. What I would do for the homemade wet wipes would be to keep a solution in a bottle, and wet a clean cloth or paper towel with it right before using – that way your homemade wet wipes don’t get moldy or dry out before you can use them.

    A spray bottle or two come in very handy when trying to bathe with as little water as possible.

    People used to wash their hair less often. You could try seeing if you can stand that. If you are reduced to making your own soap with lye from ashes, you will not want to wash your hair every day with that soap anyway (too harsh). You could put baking soda in your hair, as an interim measure, then comb it through; or just keep it up, if it’s long, and brush it to get the dust out.

    That whole thing women used to do where they brushed their hair 1000 strokes a day or whatever, isn’t really necessary. I think it hurts the hair to brush it excessively like that.

    When I used to hang out with hippies, one of them who followed the Grateful Dead told me that all the smart hippies wore hats or head kerchiefs in order to avoid lice. In a SHTF situation, I would stick a hat on for that reason. But if you get lice, Virginia creeper tea will kill it. (as a wash)

    For my own water storage, here’s what I have been doing: There is a Diet Pepsi addict at one place where I work. I have been liberating her 2 liter soda bottles out of the trash, taking them home, rinsing and filling them with tap water. I am rotating them by watering plants. What I probably should be doing is putting 4 drops of chlorine bleach in each one. I am trying to “wean” myself from fluoride, and this won’t help but it’s cheaper and the plastic is more durable than the gallon jugs. Also if you have children, they might be too small to lift a gallon but be OK with 2 liters.

    In a situation where the water is crappy but I still have gas for my stove or wood, I can boil it; and I also have a Monolithic filter and 2 5-gallon buckets for a poor man’s Big Berkey hack. That would last 6 months. I would probably get some sand and make charcoal and make a preliminary filter if I had to get river water. I have more 5-gallon buckets and there is a large river about a block from my front door. I might have to walk a ways to find a good place to get to the edge of the water though. It’s kind of steep, but a ways down the road it’s not. Now I need a “welfare cart” i.e. one of those folding wire carts. Or if SHTF maybe I can find an abandoned shopping cart. Or I can rig my bike somehow to carry it.

    Boiling water all the time is going to take an awful lot of fuel, and in the summer will just be hot. If one is forced to do this, one could try to boil more water in the winter and then put it up.

    When the poor man’s Berkey wears out, I could try to fire my own pottery drip filter out of clay from the ground. I’d make my own little kiln in a pit in the ground and – well it would be a lot of work, but what’s the alternative? The secret to doing this is you mix little bits of organic matter in with the clay, and it makes it more porous after you fire it. You can also paint on a colloidal silver solution.

    Some times and places, people just drank watered-down alcoholic beverages all the time. Maybe the alcohol killed the germs. Wine and beer keep better than plain water, but then they probably weren’t putting up water either. And that’s not really a very healthy practice.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Penny Pincher,
      Funny story about washing hair. My wife and daughter both have short hair and can dry it with a towel after washing. Myself, I’m bald as a cue ball on top with little bits of hair growing on each side so I usually just shave them off. So, I can wash my “hair” with a wet wipe and air dry in about a minute. At least that is one thing we won’t have to worry about as they will keep their hair cut back short and if I can’t shave I can always grow a scraggly beard and then whack away at that with my scissors and my zombie killer machete.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Very helpful Pennypincher. I take my water for granted while I have services. I water my plants excessively. I throw a piece of paper in the toilet and reflexively flush it. I run the water as long as it takes to warm up. Need to cultivate new habits.

  9. Plant Lady says:

    Boy, Cliff…that is bad news. Sounds like you have tried everything but the “Petticoat Junction” elevated water tower…and even that would be a finite supply…and still dependent on municipal water and pumping.
    And sounds like you know what the answer is…move or die come TEOTWAWKI. Can tell you were hoping someone would come up with some other idea…but without an infinite supply of water, your location just isn’t tenable.
    Of course…perhaps “no one digs wells there because of granite” (been to Stone Mt.) because it is so much more convenient and less expensive short term to hook up to municipal water? From watching This Old House over the years, I know they can and do drill (not dig) wells through hundreds of feet of bedrock in the Northeast every day. It is far from cheap, but it is doable. This may be your only real option to allow you to stay where you are and survive anything longer-term.
    Wells and finding potable water is a tricky thing. Here we sit, surrounded by the worlds largest reservoir of fresh water. The property has two creeks, two big ponds and a lot of wetlands…and on the other end of the property my grandparents had two wells…one 28′ and one 65′ artesian (flowing well). All the immediate neighbors
    have wells (many artesians) from 28-70 ft. When we moved onto the property called the “good” welldriller and had him come out. Three months later, after going from the 2″ rig to the 4″ rig then up to the 5″ Penetrator rig (which I think we bought!) we had water…at 455′! Instead of the the $2500 we were expecting, it ended up well over $10,000. Ouch!

  10. Cliff C,

    Good thought provoking article. Basically one needs a manual well pump, a means to collect rainwater,or have a river, pond or lake nearby, along with a large capacity filtration/purification system.

    We live in a hurricane prone area, but these are temporary shutdowns. Normally we have 6 t0 8 cases of 20 ouince bottled water and 15-20 gallons of water in gallon jugs. Our hot tub holds 185 gallons. Our area averages 69 inches of rain a year, one of the wettest in the US. However, the last five summers have been droughts. So little water in the summer, the deluge in fall and winter. Weather patterns have changed.

    We have prepared for is two scenarios. The first is breakdown of the logistical system so that fuel deliveries stop and eventually all municipal water systems stop. There will be time to get ready for this. How much time is unknown.

    The second scenario is a solar flare/EMP event. The electric goes out a lot around here (on perfectly clear days) and when it does I turn on a battery powered radio. If I pick up stations, no problem, but if I get nothing between Mobile and Tallahassee I would ; fill up the bathtubs, and the 30+ gallon jugs stored, and place three already cleaned 35 gallon heavy duty plastic barrels by each roof valley. I would get out our water filtration/purification gear. Since we get a lot of rain, water should not be a problem. The water that comes off the roof is pretty clean once it settles, or you can wait and put the barrels in position after a few minutes of rain washes the roof.

    Depending on your area and rainfall amounts, collecting rain water may be workable. Being in a drought is rough. Wish I had an answer for you.
    As an aside, about 30 years ago, a group of us after being briefed by one of the intel alphabet agencies the question was asked, what do you see as major concerns in about 30 to 40 years and on the list was fresh water.

  11. Papa Squirrel says:

    Not sure why you can’t have a well? I live in NW Georgia and have a well that’s down about 160 feet. So do all of the folks around here, no municipal water source here in the boonies. I see private well signs in Atlanta all the time (they put these up so they can continue watering their grass during drought water restrictions). The only thing you mentioned I would be concerned about is the water quality. But, with proper testing (they will do this anyways when drilling a well) and filtration I think that would be the best bet. However, an issue with a pump in grid-down is lack of electricity. Deep wells typically require a lot of juice to run. One of these days I’m investing in a propane back-up generator for short-term emergency needs, but before that I’m getting a hand pump that I can add to my existing well. The one I’m looking at will feed into the water system so you could manually pump up pressure tanks and run the water through all of the filters, it would just suck to do it by hand. Fortunately they also have some solar options as well that I’ll be looking at. You could also consider creating ponds if you have enough land. Done properly the water in these can be extremely clean (but would still need to be sanitized for consumption). Other options we are investigating – a wood-fired hot tub (500+ gallons) – good for aging backs, no electricity needed, and good grey-water back-up. You could look at getting a large cistern – many online are 1000+ gallons and can be buried. I will be using this for rain collection in addition to our rain barrels. Finally, you could look at getting an above ground swimming pool. They aren’t terribly expensive, have electric powered filter units to keep them clean along with adding chlorine, hold a lot of water and can look nice as well. The only thing you would need to do is filter the water through a filter like a berkey which can remove chlorine.

    There are a lot of options. Least visible (Opsec) is a well or buried cistern. A pond could provide both food (fish, frogs, turtles, etc) and water. Hot tub/swimming pool provides water and a nice place to unwind after dispatching zombies.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Papa Squirrel,
      You bring up some seriously good points. I talked to the county engineers just a few minutes ago and they are not issuing permits to drill wells. I do like the idea of a wood fired hot tub but I’m sure by the time the water got hot enough to enjoy I’d be off doing something else. I’m pretty old and have a short attention span at time but am also OCD so I grab a problem and shake it like a little dog does with a toy. Thanks for the good ideas and I’m going to keep worrying this problem until I’m satisfied with the solution.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Papa Squirrel,
      I went to the county code office yesterday to talk about a well. They have 1 question to ask before they will even begin to talk about permitting a well. That question is, are the services for the Water and Sewer Authority available where you live. The answer is yes, we have county supplied water. Their answer is no well drilling when county water is available. So that shut down that idea pretty quick. I watched a few you tube videos on making your own drilling apparatus and trying to do it myself but I have neither the time not the physical stamina to do that.
      It’s funny that we are stuck with septic tanks while a large part of the county is on sewer service. There is no plan to bring sewage to my part of town. I’m outside the Douglasville City Limits and they make sure that most of the people within the city limits get the sewage service but for the rest of us, no luck. We also have to pay a charge for them to handle the storm water run off from my property. They calculate how much of my property is not covered by the house or driveway or other out buildings, subtract from the plat and then come up with a formula that says I have to pay this amount for the storm water run off. The bill stays static and is 6 or 7 dollars a month, even during months there is no storm water to run off. I guess the bureaucracy is going to get me in the end. I also talked to them about putting in an above ground pool and found that I would have to build an approved deck around it, put in alarms in case someone accidentally fell in and then get special dispensation from the fire department for them to come out with the pumper truck and fill the thing.
      I believe at this point my only option (besides moving which is a non option) is to get a large water bladder (long and wide but not very high), fill it and then cover with top soil and grass seed so it just looks like another lump in my back lawn. I’ll have to start pricing them now. The outlook is not that good though and I have to think of my neighbors and how to get them on board with more prepping. As it is, we had a block meeting, set up a “neighborhood watch” and a couple of years later the only one watching things is me since I sit in front of a window and watch everyone going and coming. Some times I watch through binoculars, some times I just scope them out with my 30-30 with scope. But, I can’t be here 24 hours a day watching. Maybe bugging out is the only real option and my plans to bug in are not going to be successful.

      • Papa Squirrel says:

        Wow, sorry to hear about your difficulties with the county. My dad used to live south of Douglasville, but that was before they started growing so much. Guess the gov’t lackeys are getting a little power hungry.

        Not sure about burying a soft-sided bladder, i think it would probably be very prone to leakage. Maybe try something like this: http://www.plastic-mart.com/category.aspx?cat=200 Designed to be buried, and if you can do it outside of the prying eyes of our gov’t keepers, even better. Good luck to you!

      • cliff…yes, a fall-back position is a good idea…

        If you never have to get out…well and good…but if you do, peace of mind for you and your family, as you will have viable options in place, and steady regular supply of water.

        Or, do you have friends who have ideal property – that will be glad to have you and your family come and stay when the balloon goes up…and can count on your varied skills…can start storing stuff there asap, so there will be plenty of stored items to share with everyone.

        When my mother was young in the 2nd world war…bombing runs would come over at midday…like clockwork – for about 20-30 minutes – of course all the villagers ran for their lives…to the hills.

        Sometimes in the village there would be a direct hit on a house, other times there would be a dud bomb – that fell through the 3-4 levels of the house.

        You can have a fall-back place too…this is as good a time as any to find one or two places…

        My plan ‘B’ site is almost full, so recently had to find another place. I have a friend who has graciously let me cache stuff on their land. I have also returned the favour…just in case either place is compromised.

        Another friend turned me down when I asked if I could cache stuff on their land…we are still friends…and yes, I have enough to share with them…they are just not at the stage yet to see where we are headed.

        There are lots of options…so glad you have seen the limitations of your current place if/when balloon goes up.

        cliff, that is why, of all my houses – none of them are well-placed – city/towns/close neighbours/town water supply. And do not want to get into debt. So, in a caravan out in the boonies, and I sleep well…cheers.

  12. Ohio Surveyor says:

    Your situation sounds like you’re between a rock and a “dry” place. I’m thinking how about a pool or two. A small portable pool for you and mabey one of your neighbors. Something like this pool http://www.reallyezpools.com/PortablePools.html these seem to come in many sizes and surve as both a form of potted water and great for actually swimming in. You can use these type of water filters http://www.katadyn.com/en/katadyn-products/products/katadynshopconnect/katadyn-wasserfilter-endurance-series-produkte/ to filter the water. Hope this can help.

    • Ohio Surveyor says:

      Forgot to add that a 16’x32’x5′ swimming pool will have about 19, 000 gallons in it, if I did the math right. At 2 gallons a day for 8 people will be 1187.5 days or 3.25 years.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Ohio Surveyor,
      The portable pool looks like a viable option and I’m going to check in to it.
      The perfect thing would be to move somewhere else. I work from home so it really doesn’t matter where I live as long as I have enough phone lines and internet service.
      But, as long as I’m between my aging mother (with Alzheimer) who is living with my sister in Suwanee, and my disabled sister in law who also lives in Douglasville, I have a moral duty to stand by where I can take care of them so we’ll be staying in.
      Thanks for the great tips so far. At least I’m thinking again.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Like the long pool along the fence. Will look into it.

  13. CountryGirl says:

    In a visit to Australia I noticed that every rural home had a large tank to store rain water from roof runoff. These were 10,000 gallon tanks with great care to drain every roof area into the tanks. A fairly simple solution. It may require you to learn some water conservation techniques.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      I lived on the island of Crete for a couple of years. Living on the economy you notice that the kitchen sink has 3 faucets. One for hot water, one for city water and one for the cistern on the room. When the hotels start to pump water to their holding tanks they get it all and no city water flows through to the homes. We had a 750 – 1000 gallon tank on the roof. It had a flapper valve like a commode and when the city water came back on it would automatically fill until the bulb popped up and shut the water off. The tank water wasn’t great to drink but was fine for washing clothes, taking showers and even cooking once boiled. I know a lot of places make do with a lot less water. I’ve lived in a bunch of them but never thought I’d be facing these problems now that I’m home.

      • Cliff,
        We unfortunately are in the exact opposite of your drought.

        As long as I have either propane or gasoline for the generator, I can pump 500-1000 gallong for each gallons of gasoline. After that a hand pump

        You may also look at getting a water BOB, which fits in your bathtub and will hold 100 gallons of potable water.

        Depending on your bifget and local zoning, you might consider a composting toilet, which could alleviate a substantial part of your water requirements.

        Your gray water could be treated with chlorine and then filtered with a Seychelle or Katafdyn bottle or a Monolithic or Big Berky. Running you older bottled water through these filters can make it usable once again.

        I also read somewhere recently (don’t remember where) that some of the western states have passed laws defining rainwater as

        Tank depot or Harbor Freight or Tractor Supply / Farm Fleet or other farm supply operations.

        Your story about the multiple faucets brings a smile to my face. The first home I ever purchase was a huge old (built in the early 1900’s) home with a cistern. In the basement was a “Buckeye Water Lift) which was a commercial hydraulic ram, used to pump water from the cistern to a tank on the third floor. The old porcelain sink in the kitchen had three tear drop shaped faucet handles (which I still have), marked as Hot, Cold, and City. Back then, city services were intermittent and expensive.
        Although not exactly on topic, the house also had lighting fixtures in most of the rooms that were mounted in the middle of the ceiling of each room, and came down in a rather ornate “Y” shape. One leg of the Y had a standard light bulb fixture, and the other had a ceramic mantle attachment for a gas light. When I bought the house in 1976 both the electric and gas still worked. I was told that electricity was only available back then from dusk until something like 10-11 PM, and if you needed light before or after that, you used the gas.
        We humans can be very inventive when we need to be and are willing to think out of the box.

    • Wellrounded says:

      In a lot of rural locations in Australia roof water is all that a household will have. We have 6000 gallons of storage, we often have 8 adults using this water. We use it for everything, drinking , kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Our rainfall is over the winter and spring months with very little in summer and autumn, average yearly total 24 inches, some years as little as 10, we have never run out or water although have had to ration it at times.
      These tanks are rarely cleaned, maybe once in 10 years, they are roofed and usually bird and rodent proof. The water is not treated in any way before drinking, when family come to visit from the city they take water home with them as they love the taste and trust it much more than treated city water.

  14. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Have you seen the Water Bob? I don’t know how durable it is, but it seems if your home has a couple of old fashioned bath tubs, this may work well. Here is a link to it:


    I think you’d probably have some problems folding it back down to factory dimensions after you’ve removed it from packaging. But – a thought. Some type of bicycle ‘water buffalo’ trailer with several water tanks may be able to be constructed.

    Great topic, especially if any water source is far away from your domicile, thanks for starting to get our wheels turning.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      j. r.
      I’ve got 2 of the Water Bob things on hand and they fit the tubs fine. Last summer a main water line busted and we lost a lot of water pressure before they shut it off. I noticed and went ahead and filled one of the Bob’s in the tub. The water was off for 2 days and we had plenty of water on hand but the Bob gave up the water to flush the toilets. I find that once they are used they are better just disposed of since they never fold back down and take up a lot of room. I got all of mine off ebay for about 20 bucks each and that’s cheaper than 2 or 3 6 or 8 gallon plastic water containers.

      • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

        My bad sir, I need to get my eyes checked. I totally neglected to read your reference to it in your post – sorry.

        So following on your experience above, would you consider the bladder as a long time solution for water storage, topping it off from time to time to maintain function? I’m thinking of after the water has been shutoff for good, and the tub becomes much less useful without water pressure to the fixture.

        That was a great buy for them – $20 for a nearly the equivalent of two barrels which take up an ungoldly amount of space. I’ve had two 60 gallon Coca-Cola syrup barrels since the early 90’s, they do tend to get in the way. :^)

        Thanks again Cliff.

  15. You know, sometimes people just can’t see the answer – even if they mention it themselves.

    Get a pool fool!

    You just stated that none of your neighbors (or you) have a pool. Seems like you have some yard so get a kiddie pool. A small 15 (diameter) by 4.5 foot high steel wall/vinyl liner pool will store thousands of gallons of water. They are pretty looking, easy to take care of and doesen’t scream “survival water pod”. Each pool comes with a pool filter (and net) so you can pre-clean the water before the power goes out – it could be “shower” ready. Each pool also comes with a vacuum attachment so you can clean your storage tank out from bottom to top. If the liner breaks – repair or get a new one, cheaper then a rubber tank. If you keep pool shock to sterilize your water, keep more for the pool.

    One last tip, my rain barrels overflow with most rains – it would be a great idea to pipe that overflow into the pool.

    • This is half of where I was going to go. Remember that the pool can be deep too. A friend of mine has a 12k gallon water tank under his “kiddie”pool the pipes are covered by a water bucket and look like a city spout. He has the pool pump and recirculator right next to the pool – he has a small shed next to the pool. So disguising the tank is possible.

      Next remeber You can use a still to boil iffy water. And Whiskey – a very small amount cleans water of most water born pathogens (sp?)

      These plus the roof catchers with a decent water filter and you can be good to go.

      However all that is moot if mothernature comes after your area. Im old and broken (knees – enjoy them while you have them). Part of my plans is that if thing are untenuiable (sp?), then beat feet in a rv ( I got a 21′ shuttle van) parks anywhere.

      Always have a plan B
      Just sayin…

    • Vienna (Soggy prepper) says:

      LoL! I’m going to start calling pools, “survival water pods” now. Too funny.

  16. What would be so terribly wrong with using a cistern? When my dad was a kid they had one. All it is is a concrete tank in the basement. The size is up to the individual. Heck, if one wanted to they could probably take up the entire basement, the depth is up to the individual also. The plus or minus side to the thing is there is no cover. Who cares, you would want to filter it anyways. Re filtering…back them no one did that…and they all lived. I am kind of amazed at this “thing” folks have nowadays with this “cleanliness” thing. Taking a bath or shower every day? Rediculous. Granted, if one got covered in grime or whatever it might be a good idea to get clean before crawling into bed. Body odor? Get used to it. Unless one had issues where they really stank, that would be different. To be honest, I really believe people today are to clean. They seem to want to live in some sort of bubble. All that does, imho, is to reduce their natural immune system.

  17. I live in the desert, 5 miles and 600 ft above the Rio Grande river. We have a gravity fed multi million gallon tank on a hill above our subdivision but we are 3250 homes. I purchased the monolithic filter kit as it is $27 you supply the buckets. I can buy 10 of these or less than a berkey. If you keep the filters clean they can and have lasted 3 yrs. They have silver in them. I have several buckets so I can go to the river and fetch water. I also know where the stock tanks are out behind us in the desert. Most have wind mill water pumps. I save all gray water for my garden but will also use it to flush the toilets. We are 600′ and 5 miles from the waste-water treatment plant so I don’t see out sewers backing up anytime soon. I save every plastic bottle except milk jugs as they do not hold up. Old soap and bleach bottles are marked TW for toilet water. I collect the 5 gallon bottles from the water coolers and take them to Wal Mart and trade for filled and sealed ones. Bathtub bladders for the last minute fill up are kept near the bathrooms. Living in the desert we think about water all the time. Try and locate some one in your area who has a well and make arrangements to get water in the event of an emergency. Check at you church, work, elks or moose club, Etc. You also need to have straight up bleach no scents or calcium hypochlorite to disinfect the water. A pound of calcium hypochlorite will treat 10,000 gallons, search the web and you will find how to info. I got my info here http://readynutrition.com/resources/better-than-bleach-use-calcium-hypochlorite-to-disinfect-water_19062010/
    So strain your water, treat it and then filter it to be safe. Best wishes.

  18. SurvivorDan says:

    Desert living prioritizes the issue of water storage. I can’t move yet as I have aging parents who refuse to leave the desert. It’s a dry heat. I have three 55 gal drums and multiple smaller storage containers but I estimate my total standing water stored as less than 300 gallons. I cannot store water in my garage as the heat wreaks havoc with quality of the water and two of the plastic barrels (leaking) have had to be replaced after only a few years. Have bob’s but only good if I have warning of loss of services.
    A king size waterbed, properly filled holds about 30 cubic ft of water. I think for folks who can’t bury a cistern, can’t store barrels in the garage, don’t get enough rainfall to keep recovery barrels full, etc…. should consider setting up two or three waterbeds. Chemically treated waterbeds if rarely opened can keep the water safe for a very long time. A lifetime ago I owned a waterbed store. Have had to drain many an old waterbed and the quality of the wate was often very good. (not that i drank any). Make certain the bladders are the free flow type and not the waveless type. The layers of fiber in the waveless are welcoming platforms for aspiring algae colonies. Three king size FF waterbeds {frames are cheap or you can build sandbox frames easily} will store 90 cubic feet of water. That’s approximately 675 gallons. Other than having big ugly barrels all over the house, I see no other viable option for some.
    At my age a waterbed would kill my aching back. Of course, if I installed one in our bedroom, Mrs. S.D. would kill me first.

  19. SurvivorDan says:

    Besides long term bulk preserved foods, I do keep a lot of canned goods so that during a water shortage (hopefully temporary) I don’t have to use much of my precious stored water to rehydrate foods. Have toilet lid buckets to use and carry waste off into the neighboring desert to save ‘flush’ water.

  20. SurvivorDan says:

    My buddy looking over my shoulder just criticized my desert human waste dump plan. Okay. I’ll dig a slit trench.

  21. Although I have never used one, I have for a long time been fascinated with the concept of using an atmospheric water generator (AWG) to meet our water needs. It works on the same basis as a dehumidifier. I’m not sure what all of the differences between an AWG and dehumidifier are.
    My understanding is that there is a movement toward government entities claiming that they alone have water rights in some places. Until they claim that they also own the air over land, using an AWG or dehumidifier to condense the moisture from the air for drinking, cooking and cleaning — as an alternative to other water sources — certainly sounds reasonable to me. Not only that, but assuming the appliance’s long life, it also sounds more space efficient than many barrels, jugs or bottles of stored water.
    One can obtain a dehumidifier fairly inexpensively. “Output” varies based on the unit. AWG units that I’ve seen listed online are much more expensive.
    Of course, using one of these devices requires a source of electricity and filtering the condensed water is a must when it is to be used for drinking or cooking.

  22. Wellrounded says:

    Quick question Cliff C…. Just how much rain do you get in an average year and how much have you had during the drought years?

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      January February March April May June July August September October November December Total
      1996 8.26 3.82 6.42 2.91 2.12 1.70 2.14 4.66 4.32 0.89 3.22 4.14 44.60
      1997 5.65 7.93 2.18 4.28 3.36 3.91 4.71 1.32 4.83 5.12 3.34 5.05 51.68
      1998 5.83 7.10 6.25 5.12 1.23 3.58 2.93 5.54 4.45 0.26 1.97 1.90 46.16
      1999 5.34 1.97 3.32 1.14 4.42 5.83 3.43 1.26 4.19 2.41 3.34 2.21 38.86
      2000 4.89 1.26 3.63 2.63 1.86 1.11 2.70 4.03 4.93 0.88 5.02 2.62 35.56
      2001 2.77 3.61 9.08 3.30 3.31 6.69 2.54 1.03 2.19 0.79 0.87 2.22 38.40
      2002 5.35 2.54 5.49 1.83 3.52 2.81 2.59 0.77 6.39 5.94 5.36 5.23 47.82
      2003 2.00 3.51 7.08 3.44 9.94 7.34 5.35 3.48 2.41 1.49 4.17 2.69 52.90
      2004 2.84 4.60 1.04 2.80 2.58 5.99 2.20 3.63 13.65 2.19 7.26 4.82 53.60
      2005 2.57 5.58 7.49 4.36 1.98 2.91 14.63 8.28 0.07 1.98 2.91 3.67 56.43
      2006 5.10 5.50 2.93 2.48 2.86 5.80 1.31 8.66 3.31 3.04 4.39 3.08 48.46
      2007 3.95 2.63 1.31 1.79 2.05 3.66 1.85 3.48 2.92 2.47 0.96 4.78 31.85
      2008 2.85 4.68 5.17 3.22 2.80 0.58 7.17 3.77 0.75 3.48 2.64 4.39 41.43
      2009 2.88 3.70 7.13 5.18 4.54 2.34 5.02 6.14 8.94 8.71 5.75 9.10 69.43
      2010 5.38 4.17 4.24 2.56 6.87 5.21 4.37 3.32 1.60 3.33 5.48 1.62 48.15
      2011 2.63 4.25 9.06 3.06 2.93 2.20 2.67 1.51 2.30 1.70 2.49 4.43 39.23
      1981-2010 30 yr avg 4.20 4.67 4.81 3.36 3.66 3.95 5.27 3.90 4.47 3.41 4.10 3.90 49.68

      It didn’t line up very well when I copied it but if you cut and paste into a word document and the formatting comes back you can see our rainfall for about the last 10 years.

      • Wellrounded says:

        Thanks Cliff,
        To us water poor Aussies that’s a huge amount of water, lol. Our average yearly rainfall is 24 inches, mostly over winter and spring, very little the rest of the year unless we get a storm or two. Over the last 10 years we’ve had some truley bad years as little as 8 inches.

  23. SrvivlSally says:

    Cliff C., I feel awful for you. If everyone has social security checks, get a bit of acreage in Northern Arkansas and put a septic on it, or buy something that has one already installed, because there is a large spring that everyone drives to and fills their barrels and other carriers from. I think it sits in the northern part of Searcy County, but please do not quote me. Tastes pretty good, as a friend that lives not far from there told me. There is also a water delivery service in the Marion County area. They charge around $150 for, I believe, 2,600 gallons of water and you can purchase a 1,500 gallon holding tank in the local area for around $600. My friends made 1,500 gallons last for just about an entire year but they had to work at it to make it go that far. Sometimes, the creek down in the small holler just below them dries up and then they have to go and haul it from the spring like they did during this past summer. They were glad that there was a source when it was so hot and dry out and while waiting for some sort of rain to come afterward. It took a little time but they eventually got a few jugs filled to get themselves by with until they could go for water. If you cannot move, pull some recreational vehicle water holding tanks out broken down trailers, set them in a very shady location, place piles of dirt or small thick concrete blocks around them and cover them over with a piece of plywood and a layer of bricks to keep algae down. If you make sure that they are up high enough and their openings are wide enough, you could set a container below and use it to catch water from a hose that you are using to siphon with. It is important that the hose is long enough that it will reach below the bottom edges of the full containers. Water generally and naturally contains a form of algea which can be difficult to kill off and it grows particularly well while exposed to warmth. If it is green looking it is okay but if it is blue in color then you will want to avoid having anything to do with it. If worse comes to worse, distill and drink your urine. You should not worry because it will not kill you or make you sick but you will have to get real, fresh water as soon as possible because (it) takes time to go through the distillation process and the supply will not last forever. Good luck and I hope that you find a resolution soon.

    • templar knight says:

      Where are you located, Sally? I live in Izard County, which is not very far from Searcy County. You don’t have to get specific, I was just wondering the general area. I don’t want to blow your OPSEC.

      • SrvivlSally says:

        My friends, not I, are there but I have been long considering a move somewhere near them.

  24. Don’t forget your watere heaters also. I have 2 40 gallon ones and could probably get 65-75 gallons out before you get into the gunk(flush them out a couple times of year gets the gunk out and makes them last longer). I also have about 75 gallons in bottles in the basement and about 50 more in the 5 gallon water cooler bottles that are $5 at sams just leaved them sealed. Live in the midwest where we get plenty of rain (so far) and have a couple of rain barrels outside for the garden and 10 acre lake just a few hundred yards away. Also have 3 ways to filter water and 3 or more ways to purify it also. I do agree that when I get a place in the country I will also set up a grey water system and a cistern and or storage tank collection system and gravity feed system also. I have practiced with the garden spayer as a shower system and you can take a good shower for 2-3 gallons of water, I prefer to put about a gallon and half in the sprayer and about a gallon in a bucket with a sponge to rinse the hair out and spots you might need more water than the small spray. A black sparyer sitting in the sun when it is 60 degrees outside will heat up to about 95-100 degrees and that is hot enough for a shower. Like other things practice now on these things before you actually have to and get the bugs worked out. A small rocket stove built from a large #10 can or juice can can boil a gallon of water pretty quick from a small amount of twigs to keep fuel use down.

  25. Cliff,

    Here are the notes reformatted into a post that may actually make some sense, LOL.

    We fortunately or unfortunately are in the exact opposite of your drought. This year we set a new record that was last set in 1958 and depending on what date you use for the measurements, we are somewhere north of 50 inches. While this keeps all of the aquifers full, it has made gardening and farming a bit of a challenge, so there is a downside.

    I live in a rural setting with a good shallow well, so as long as I have either propane or gasoline for the generator, I can pump 500-1000 gallons for each gallon of gasoline. After that a hand pump can be used to get water from the well. We do use a softener for the house (but not the barns) and an R.O. system for drinking and cooking, so there would be some definite changes long term in washing clothing and keeping the stains and clogs out of the fixtures.

    Depending on your budget and local zoning, you might consider a composting toilet, which could alleviate a substantial part of your water requirement. These work especially well in low water environments like the desert southwest, where water will only become a bigger issue over time.

    Your gray water could be treated with chlorine and then filtered with a Seychelle or Katadyn bottle or a Monolithic or Big Berkey. Running your older bottled water through these filters can make it usable once again, and these filters can make nearly any water you can acquire into potable water with a little effort.

    I also read somewhere recently (don’t remember where) that some of the western states have passed laws defining rainwater as a state resource, and actually stopping people from collecting what comes off of your roof and into you rain barrels. This is something we all need to be aware of so we can nip these practices in the bud.

    Finally, if you have any space in your basement, you could use one or more poly tanks, available from places like Tank depot, Harbor Freight, Tractor Supply, Farm Fleet or other farm supply operations. A small battery electric or hand crank pump can be used to distribute this water to your home, and the system will be out of sight of nosy neighbors.

    This is yet another reason I’m thankful for living in the boonies, where it seems that every inconvenience is offset by one or more positive reasons for being here.

    Good luck Cliff.

  26. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    My apologies to Cliff, but I wanted to say good-bye.

    I’m closing out my email account and ending my computer use because I’m tired of the viruses and the spam and the increasing invasion of privacy. Besides all that, I can save some money and spend it on the little farm I’m going to buy sometime soon.

    So, I just wanted to say to all of the Wolf Pack how much I’ve appreciated the kind regards, the jokes, the education, and the debates. It’s been my privilege to have gotten to know you, even if only a little bit. Some of you have been like family and I will always wonder how life turns out for you, but I trust you will do well since you are all intelligent and savvy folks who will get through whatever life has in store.

    Maybe things will get better, maybe they won’t. All I know is you have all helped me learn how to prepare and how to enjoy each day. Thank you, truly, thank you for all that!

    Stay alert. Stay safe. Don’t let TDL get you down – he doesn’t win in the end. May God bless each of you with wisdom and courage and laughter. And may He wrap you in good health and safe passage all the days of your lives.

    It’s been fun. So long Wolf Pack.

    Signing off, Mack

    • templar knight says:

      I wish you the best, Mack. You will be missed.

    • Lint,

      I wish you luck and the best of what life has to offer you. You will be missed around here…

    • charlie (NC) says:

      Mack, we will miss you! Go by the public library and check in now and then if you can. Good luck to you! God Speed.

    • Lint, thank you for all you’ve contributed here, and best of luck in your new endeavors. May your flashlights always shine brightly.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      I’m disappointed in your decision, but it’s a good one.

    • Mack:
      Sorry to see you go. We all have to make choices, and just because I personally would rather have you around, doesn’t mean that your choice isn’t the best for you (or maybe even for me). Just know you will be missed.

    • Good luck!! Hate to see you go maybe you can set up a free yahoo or google e-mail account and if you have a local public library you can use their public computers to check in once and while. Again good luck with your homestead plans as I am looking for the same thing also..

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Take care man. You are one of the good ones with a good head on your shoulders. We may have pressed for too much information from you and made you uneasy but we/I never meant to run you off. I know that life sometimes gets in the way of what we want to do. I wish you the best and hope to see you again when we come out on the other side of this thing that is happening.

    • Ah, Lint..

      I respect your choice but I’m going to miss your posts, wishing you the very best in your life, take care of yourself and hope that just maybe you will check in on the wolf pack now and again!

    • Good Luck, Lint Picker. I have enjoyed your comments.

    • Wellrounded says:

      We’ll miss you so much. Wishing you health, happiness and good harvests.

    • ne1u1tme2be says:

      I know exactly how you feel, LP, and at times I am very tempted to do the same. Best of luck to you.

    • Encourager says:

      Good bye LP. I always enjoyed your posts, have learned a lot from you. If you can, find a library and check back with us from time to time! God bless you and be with you.

    • blindshooter says:

      God speed Mr. Lint, I’ll miss your posts.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Miss your wisdom and wit sir. Stay safe.

    • Vienna (Soggy prepper) says:

      Dang. 🙁 I’m going to miss you posts also. No more humorous jabs and whimsical quotes! Who’s going to keep us up to date on the latest flashlights?

      I agree with some of the others in the Pack, you could always check in now and again on a library computer.

      I wish you all the best Lint, and good luck on obtaining your piece of property.

    • Lint…respect your decision – obviously your eyes and ears are open and can see what is coming – however without the internet we/I/you would not be this well-informed on the state of things…

      Am sure you will still stay informed on world events – will miss your humour and wit.

      Hope you check in now and then and let us know how you are going.

      Wishing you good fortune, good health, happiness and God’s blessings.

      And may all your future flashlights be pink. cheers.

  27. charlie (NC) says:

    I didn’t read all of the comments so I might be repeating something someone else said.

    A few bullet points come to mind.

    All water can be cleaned and reused. The water from your septic system either soaks into the ground or evaporates into the air and eventually makes it’s way back into the water supply somewhere.
    Study up on water filtration systems. Most of them are nothing more than some combination of some or all of the following ingredients:
    Sand, stone, charcoal, diatomaceous earth and a small amount of chlorine. Make a plan and store the materials needed to construct.

    Study up on distillation. It will clean water, make alcoholseveralserveral other things. make a plan and store what is needed.

    Family and social responsibilities. While you still have time and if you have the money move somewhere that is safe from the city, has water and that has enough space that those you are responsible for can come and stay with you. Go up stream from the large cities not down stream.

    Above ground water storage. The long pool against the fence is certainly a cheap way to store water but a knife, arrow or bullet from an enemy or jealous neighbor can empty that water supply quickly and you won’t be able to do much about it. If you decide to use such a structure put it below ground or build earth berms or stone walls around it. Use your imagination.

    Liquid chlorine does not store well and looses potency over time.
    There is a type of powdered pool treatment that is much more shelf stable and safer for use in drinking water. I can’t remember the chemical for sure right now and hesitate to guess for fear I’ll get the wrong one. Maybe someone else can help with that.

  28. Dean in Michigan says:

    Good article. One thing you could do is make the humid Georgia weather work for you. Goggle “Solar Still”. They are easy to build and will produce water. One alone doesn’t produce a lot, but they are not big, you could probably put a few in.

    Also, in dire situations, you can boil “bad” water with a tarp over it high enough to not get burnt, but low enough to catch the steam. Taper the tarp down to a catch point or two. The condensation that collects on the tarp then drips to the bowls is drinkable.

    • charlie (NC) says:

      Get a big pot with a metal handle in the middle of the top.
      Fill the pot partially with water. Place something in the bottom of the pot like a wire rack or a container turned upside down or whatever will fit. Set a bowl on top of that. Place the top on the pot with the top upside down such that the handle hangs over the bowl. Heat the water to a simmer/slow boil. The water will evaporate, condense on the top, run down and drip off of the handle into the bowl. The water that collects in the bowl is distilled water.

      Warning, some toxins like the one that causes Botulism need to be heated above the boiling point to be killed.

      The method described can also be used to “distill” wine or cider into brandy by heating the liquid to about 170 degrees or so but not to the boiling point. That will evaporate the alcohol but not the water.

  29. I bought 4 2500 gallon water tanks and put them on the hill above the house. I pump from a well to the tanks and pump from the tanks to pressure tanks to the house. IF I were to loose power I can bypass the pump and gravity feed to the house. I bought a 14kw diesel generator with a 500 gallon fuel tank for power backup. I think I have my bases covered.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      It does sound like you have your bases covered. How do the tanks handle the winter? Does the water freeze and crack the plastic or is there enough volume to avoid freezing.
      One of the biggest problems we have here in Georgia with any water source that is uncovered for any amount of time is a sudden increase in the mosquito population. The county sprays for them but only inside the city limits and I’m not sure I want them spraying around my family or my tomatoes. We had a recent spate of rain. I went out to my shed and the wheelbarrow had blown over and the inset on the wheel hub had filled with water and it was almost boiling with mosquito larvae. We haven’t had a cold enough winter yet to kill off the bugs.

  30. Cliff, thank you for your article, and for getting this discussion started.

    Perhaps a water wall could work for your current situation? http://www.waterwalltanks.com/

    It’s not blue, and you could make it less prominent with a trellis–which could also be used for food production or flowering vines that’d attract pollinators.

    A 1″ rain on a 1000 sq. ft. cachement area yields 600 gallons of water, according to this site: http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/how-much-water-can-you-collect-in-rain-barrels-during-a-rainfall/

    You might have to wait a while for it to fill with your current conditions, but one good gulleywasher could do it.

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Thanks for the link, it’s a very interesting site. I just had to watch all their videos, especially the one of teaching your toilet new tricks. This is the first video where any one has suggested to pee in the shower when you are taking your shower. I know it goes on all the time but never really had any one open up a discussion about it. Something to think about.
      There is a local dealer for the waterwall tank and I will be in touch with them later today to find out the price and the cost of delivery.
      Thanks again.

  31. I didnt have the time to read all the responses but the original post stated that a well was not an option due to rock and septic systems in close proximity.
    This is not the case. A well can be drilled through the rock, and get deep enough that the septic system wont be an issue.

    The only issue that will have to be dealt with is generating power to run a pump.

    • Mike – You still need to consider the legal set-backs from the leach fields (normally 100′). On some pieces of property, the siting of septic systems on your and your neighbors properties can rule out a legal well. But I agree, drilling through rock is no problem for a professional driller (if it’s legal to do); although it gets very expensive very quickly. In my area (northern CA), a new well must have a 50′ seal to prevent ground water intrusion, so most wells are 100 to 200′ deep.
      Cliff – If I were in your situation, I would have underground concrete tanks installed (essentially the same tank you had installed to hold and pump effluent) for water storage that can be filled by city water and rainwater diversion.
      As for your sewage, you’ll just need a low voltage or hand pump connected to a hose to move the effluent from your pump tank
      to your leach field. One of the 12 volt grinder pumps made to empty RV holding tanks through a garden hose would be ideal.

  32. Jerry in NC says:

    I saw a program some years ago about a survival school in Southern New Jersey, run by Tom Brown (known as the Tracker). In his school his students would get up early in the morning and using a piece of cloth, gather the dew from non toxic plants and trees. They were able to fill a 20 gallon plastic garbage can in a short time. Of course this would probably not work in all environments and at all times of the year but it could be a source of water in bad times. I have not tried this myself. Guess maybe it’s time I did.

    • charlie (NC) says:

      Jerry, what general area of NC are you in? I’m in the Craven, Jones County area.

      • Jerry in NC says:

        I live in N. Raleigh. I’m kinda new to this Blog and only been prep-ping for a year or so. There is so much good info here and the in the sites it has links to, I am a little overwhelmed….a lot overwhelmed.

        • charlie (NC) says:

          Good luck to you if tshtf while you are still in Raleigh! The good part is that you are in North Raleigh and can escape into the rural areas just a few miles north of you. The bad news is that several thousand will be headed that way too.

          Just take it a bit at a time. Go to Sams Club and stock up on Rice and Beans to begin with. Dry goods. That will keep you alive. Then work on canned goods, freeze dried fruits and veggies, etc. For less that $20.00 you can get a 50 Lb bag of rice at Sam’s. Folks in Asia live on it so can we!

          Once you get comfortable with your food stuffs start working on weapons, bugg out locations, etc.

          I assume you live in a subdivision? Some of those N. Raleigh S/D are heavily wooded and full of deer and squirell but it won’t last long if the flag goes up.

          Last time I looked there were some fair deals on land up to the north of you near the Virginia line.

          • Jerry in NC says:

            Thanks for the info.
            I have some long term storage food now but not enough. Living in a town house doesn’t lend itself to storing much of anything. I do have some firearms and ammo already. Up to the time I found this site, I was buying things without much of a plan and bought too much of some items and not enough of others. I’m stepping back and taking some time to get a plan together.
            I have looked at property in Granville, Franklin, Johnston and Nash counties and will buy something soon, I hope. But we have a place in Alleghany county on 6 acres that we have to sell first. It would be an ideal bugout location if it wasn’t 3 1/4 hours away ( that’s at interstate limits + @10). After a SHTF situation, getting there will be difficult if not impossible. I have been retired for a while and could relocate there but I have some health issues and the hospital up there does not have much in the way of facilities. Plus, more importantly, all of my family (children and grandchildren) live in the Raleigh area. I’m trying to store with them in mind. And last but certainly not least, my wife will not relocate.
            We have been trying to sell the property for a couple of years but no luck so far. I’m hoping for a change this November that will result in the economy getting back to ‘normal’ so we can sell it and buy a nearby bugout spot.

            • charlie (NC) says:

              Good luck with it Jerry. Since you have health problems that is one of the first things you need to consider with your preps. Without asking for specifics (this is a rhetorical question) are there medications you must have in order to live? If so
              are they temperature sensitive? Can you get extra quantities of them?

              All meds have an expiration date but discussions here and on other forums have questioned the accuracy of those expiration dates. I once saw a study, supposedly from the US Army, that stated that most meds will keep for YEARS beyond their expiration date with little or no loss of function if kept dry and at a reasonably cool and stable temperature. I’m not a doctor or pharmacist. I’m just repeating what I’ve read.

              Good luck with the property sale. This is not a good time for that as you well know. Is your wife on board with your prepping? If not, does she like to read? If so buy her a copy of _One Second After_ by William Forschen.

  33. Great article Cliff.
    I haven’t read all comments yet (the total jumped up nearly twenty from when I first began reading), but since I hadn’t seen this angle mentioned yet I’d like to add:
    At an LDS Emergency Preparedness day one of the classes was covering food storage. The person leading the session recommended that stored bottled water will go “flat” tastewise. The simple solution is to shake up the bottle to reoxygenate the water before opening and drinking. Think of the purpose of the aerator on our kitchen sink faucets. If the water is still not the best tasting keep powdered Kool Aid type flavorings on hand and add it to the water to help mask the taste. I thought the suggestions were pretty good for keeping safe water drinkable.

    • There have been some comments about using or making wipes to keep the grime away without using a lot of water. I would like to add a way to conserve soap. I’ve invested in several of the “foaming” liquid soap dispensers. The “Tone” brand is one example. To that I’ve added a stash of cheap shampoo and once the manufacturer’s foaming soap is used up I add a small amount of the shampoo to the bottle, top it off with tap water and mix. This dispenser will make a little soap go a very long way and still get your hands clean.

  34. JeffintheWest says:

    Based on some of the comments on here, I suppose I might as well wave the caution flag as anyone. First, don’t guess. If you don’t know for sure if your water is potable, then get a test kit and TEST it. then you’ll know. Do it regularly, especially if you are using run-off from your A/C unit or something like that. Second, just because water is potable today doesn’t mean the same water will be potable a week from now. Some water (in fact, most of the water that we have access too in today’s world) loses potability pretty quickly, and having a bunch of tin cans filled with undrinkable “drinking” water is not a great plan for when things go south.

    Large storage containers are great, but even more important is what you put in them — finding a good source of water is the all important first step — and even then you’ll want to test, test, test to make sure the vinyl or plastic hasn’t leached chemicals into the water that render it useless to you. Rain barrels are good too — and rigging your roof to collect rain water for you will generally pay huge dividends in watering your garden and lawn at the very least; to say nothing of saving on water bills. And as long as you have access to water, you can purify it by filtering or boiling or bleach (personally my least favorite method).

    But, perhaps the most important thing is to have a really good filter (Katadyn or comparable) and to make sure that every ounce of water that you or your family (and your livestock too, probably) consume goes through the system or gets boiled. Believe me, you don’t need cholera or dysentery on top of everything else that will be going on (and going wrong) if the SHTF. Remember, after “the day,” if anyone lives upstream from you on your local stream or river, the odds are that they are dumping something bad for you in the water — even if they don’t know it. Could be as simple as chemical run-off from their house or soil (and even someone gardening organically probably still has chemicals in the soil from previous users, or drifting pesticides from crop dusters, or something similar going on) or as just plain wrong as them using it as a toilet through ignorance or just plain laziness. The bottom line is that in Maslow’s Hierarchy of need, water is right up there, and you can’t really afford to take chances with something that important to your survival.

  35. Lint Picker,

    Sorry to see you go. Best wishes to you.

  36. arkieready says:

    Lint, Godspeed, Godbless. (been lurking some time, just joined the pack) you will be missed.

  37. Go to a farm supply store and ask to see their catalog of water tanks in food grade plastic. They go from at least 100 gal to 5000 gallons, and the price per gallon held goes down considerably as the size goes up.
    We currently have a 120 gallon tank on a 2m pedestal for garden and general emergency. When cash allows, I`m, going to install a 240 gallon unit plumbed into the house system. To gravity flow, it will probably be on a 5 meter tower of iron pipe. We also have (6) 5 gallon jugs and a 55 gallon barrel for short term situations.
    This is a minimal system. Like you, we got cut off by flooding a couple years ago and want to be able to get by for 1 to 5 days as one level of our survival plan.

  38. During a period in history, everyone drank beer because ordinary water was unfit for human consumption. A university “Science of Beer” department actually ran an experiment where they took filthy water from a duck pond and found that there were no bacteria by the time they made it into beer. (They didn’t say whether or not they strained the chunks out, I’m just assuming that they might have ran it through a couple layers of cloth.)

    I think it was the boiling that made the water safe to drink, rather than the aggressiveness of the yeast.

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