Monday, June 9, 2008

Your 20 Sources of Water

Before, during, and after an emergency, one of your first priorities will be finding potable water. You will need water to drink, cook with, clean up with, give to the animals, use on your garden, etc. A couple of caveats--if you are not absolutely sure about the purity of the water source, always boil or treat it. Second, these ideas will work for your location (ie: water from your hot water tank) as well as from other similar sources (ie: the water from the water tank in the building you just broke into to find shelter). Here are some sources to consider:
  1. Tap water. This is, of course, our water source of choice. It's easy to use and generally drinkable. Be aware that after some disasters, the water in your tap will not be fit to drink so listen to the news for information about this. If you are unsure, treat it or boil it.
  2. Well water. Always a great option, as having your own well gives you much more control over your water. Be sure to have a back up way to get your water out of the well if, for example, the pump goes out. Again, things like flooding, chemicals in the surrounding area, or shifting earth may make your well water unfit to drink.
  3. Old wells. These can often be found on rural or abandoned homesteads. Many times these are hand dug and fairly shallow. Ask a local old timer for information about old wells and be careful walking in these areas as many not have been securely covered.
  4. Stored water. Everyone should have at least a week's worth of water stored in their home. Bottled water is one option. Filling up water jugs is another.
  5. The ice in your freezer. Whether in cube form or frozen in bottles that you put in the cooler when you go camping, this is another good option.
  6. Hot water tank. As soon as your water source is compromised, you can turn off the water to your home and still have 50+ gallons of water available from your hot water tank.
  7. Other sources of water in the home. If you know that a disaster is coming, immediately fill up every water containment vessel in your home. Fill up all of the bath tubs, the sinks, the washing machine, buckets, etc. There is also a small amount of water in the toilet tanks and fish tanks. Swimming pool and hot tub water may be used if properly treated. Never use water from water beds as these are usually chemically treated and could poison you.
  8. Cisterns. These water catchment systems are common in many area of the country. They are built to contain water and can be used for garden and household use. Be sure to treat water from these sources as most are open and can trap small animals, bugs, and larvae along with the water.
  9. Water barrels. Many people have water barrels to catch the run off from their gutters or to fill up with well water in order to use the water for their garden. Having a simple plastic barrel to catch water in this way can easily provide you an additional 50+ gallons of water.
  10. Animal troughs. Usually used for animals, troughs are another source of water you can use in an emergency.
  11. Holding tanks in RVs or boats. Be sure to always keep your potable water holding tanks in your boat or RV full--you never know when this extra water will come in handy.
  12. Lakes. Lake water will definitely need to be treated, but in an emergency, this will be a good water source. Be sure that the disaster has not made this water source untreatable (ie: if the area flooded and chemicals and oil were washed into the lake, don't even try to drink the water from this source).
  13. Rivers. Rivers are another good source of water however you will need to find out if the disaster has caused the water to be contaminated to the point where you will not be able to purify it.
  14. Streams. A running stream is another good source of water. Years ago we drank right from the streams in our mountains but that is no longer a good idea as giardia and other bugs will make you resent such recklessness.
  15. Natural springs. If you know of a natural spring in your area, this will be another good source for water. Note, however, many other people may also know of this spring and count it as their main source of water too.
  16. Rainwater. In some areas, catching rainwater to drink is a normal part of daily life. Depending on the system you set up, you may be able to store gallons of water for drinking and showering and pipe it right into your house.
  17. Public/commercial water holding areas. Public water tanks, water treatment plants, fish hatcheries, fire department water tanks/tenders, and reservoirs will have plenty of water, the challenge will be getting to it.
  18. Food sources. If you need liquid for drinking, consider foods (canned, bottled, vegetables, fruits) that contain plenty of liquid such as watermelons, chicken broth, etc.
  19. Natural locations that store water. Many times, there are locations in caves and rock formations that naturally catch water. If you note these locations ahead of time, you will have another option for finding water after a disaster.
  20. Companies that make/store water and water-related products. Warehouses where they store bottled water for distribution, ice companies, wineries, distilleries, and any other companies where water is a critical component of the product may have large storage tanks for water. Again, the trick will be getting into these facilities.


  1. Very good! The majority of people think food will be the biggest priority. They are wrong. Within one day potable water is usually #1 and often the most difficult to obtain.

  2. dont forget though that a lot of springs can contain arsenic so becareful