Homesteading · Prepping

Prepping For Everyday: Water

Water. Everyone needs it. You won’t last long without it. And yet, it is easy to overlook having it on hand. During the early months of Covid, it was easy to laugh at those who blindly stocked up on bottled water. The media mocked them endlessly, after all it was a virus, not water born and the cities were not failing.

Yet….as part of a good prepper plan, you MUST have clean water on hand. For literally everyday use. End of the world? SHTF? Well, that is just a bonus. Just buy it before hand, on sale, and mark it with the date bought as you stock it.

We live rural, on a private well. Life is great, the water is free…right up till you have the electricity fail, or the well/pump decides to quit working. (And yes, having a generator is great for tying in, and running the well pump, however it isn’t a long term solution. YOu must maintain your generator, have it wired up, and not run out of fuel. Having passive water supplies removes this issue.)

And that is how we look at prepping in general: To be ready for every day issues, rather than a big event – and that if an event happened, that we’d be prepared as well. For us, a genuine concern is earthquakes. I went thru the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake on the island we live on, and our homestead is 2 miles from the fault line that crosses under the island. Had the Nisqually event gone just a bit longer, wells could have cracked and failed. Not where you want to be, when on an island.

And that is what has happened this past year. Multiple times of everyday issues. But due to our preparations, we were OK.

  • Winter storms: Neighbor down the road, their rotten Alder forest took out the power yet again. It happens at least twice a year one of their trees falls. Power goes down for a day or two on average, as we are a secondary road. Some years it is 3 or more days. Just depends on how bad the two state highways and the towns are first.
  • Spring storms: We had a good one come in, and the winds did a lot of damage. Took out winter damaged trees. See rotting Alder forest above.
  • The well pump control box went out. Water was fine and suddenly it went out. Kirk had to drive to the far end of the island to find one in stock to replace it. It wasn’t a hard fix, but without it, no water.
  • Leaking pipes off of the well head. This fun disaster I discovered when I noticed the well head area was filling up with water at evening one night. Our well head sits in a concrete box in the ground, but wasn’t covered. It apparently had a huge chunk of concrete on top of the pipes (who does that?? The previous owner apparently….). We had to fence it off to keep the ducks out of it. Meanwhile, we were digging irrigation trenches with an excavator….so great timing. For days we had to turn the water off at night while we waited for the repairs to be done (this one we couldn’t do, we have a company we used for laying water hydrants come in to do the fix). All fixed…and then 6 days later the fix broke and we had water shooting out everywhere. Again, water turned off. Thankfully they came the next morning and decided second time around to use brass, not plastic. So far, no more issues.

Knowing I could go grab 1 gallon jugs of water for drinking and cooking is huge. A huge relief that is. That we could flush our toilets with water from our water tanks. That we could still irrigate our crops with the water tanks. That the chicken and ducks had water.

How much water?

We keep 1 gallon per person, per day, on hand. For a family of 5 that is 5 gallons a day. You should have at least 3 days worth, so for us 15 gallons.

Include your animals in this as well, for cats and dogs. Our cat and one of the dogs sip water, but the big Golden Retriever we have, he can easily suck down 4 cups water at a sitting. So a gallon a day for the 3 of them is part of it.

Having water tanks to flush toilets with. Being sanitary is very, very important, and human waste is a real issue. We have a gravity septic system, so all we need is water to get it where it needs to go. On sewer systems, this will work until it fails, so keep that in mind (for example, flooding can cause backup, so can power failures). But knowing you have options, that is everything.

Water to wash hands. The fastest way to get sick is to not wash hands after bathroom use – with soap, and then to prepare food for others. Having water on hand, by sinks, goes far.

Final Thoughts: 

Even those living in HOA’s with tiny backyards can have a water source – a 50 gallon water tank will flush toilets quite a few times, especially if you have low water toilets installed. Rain barrels can be easily installed and hidden by using decorative ones. We have 2 1100 gallon water tanks we fill off the roof of our home, with 1 tank lower than the other (so it can be refilled using gravity). See here and here on how we did it. In most states in the United States it is legal to use rain water off a home’s roof. It doesn’t take long in the rain season to fill them either.

When buying drinking water, buy the sturdiest gallon jugs. Store them in a cool and dry area, out of the light, to preserve them. Sunlight degrades plastic jugs.

Have a way to treat water, either a water filter or pills for it, in case you must treat storage water for drinking (to make potable).

I consider 3 days of water on hand to be the bare minimum. If you live where help coming will take longer, plan for a week or more. That is for drinking water, if you have water tanks, then a lot less worry.

Work thru water supplies throughout the year. By marking the date when bought, you can rotate. I try to keep them under 6 months, for best taste.