Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Confirmed: Don't Depend Upon The Water District!

***The following is a guest post for The Final Hour by Barbara Fix*** People expect to turn on faucets, showers, washing machines, and garden hoses for their water needs. Better re-think that during a time of grid failure unless you have a well and a manual hand pump to draw the water to the surface where it will do you some good!

Over the years, I have heard conflicting reports over what to expect with regards to water delivery in a grid-down situation. Just this week I got the answer from a plant manager (who will remain unnamed for job security reasons). Keep in mind that each water district is set up differently, and should you be concerned over your areas water supply, it is worth investigating.

Now back to my source: this manager works for a water plant that serves millions of urbanites in a heavily populated, metropolitan area. When I asked him what steps they had taken for back up in a grid-down situation, the manager's answer was less than reassuring. This particular plant has battery and diesel back up for 3 days. No more. Should diesel fuel be unavailable when their supply runs out, the plant will be shackled with regards to getting water to their customers.

When asked if the area's populace should expect sewage backup to enter their homes, the manager offered a mixed bag of possibilities. Sewage is, in some cases, gravity-fed. However, for those whose homes sit higher than gravity feed will allow for safe drainage, expected sewage back up --most probably to bathtubs.

If you have abundant water storage, and plan to pour stored water to a tub for bathing or a sink to wash dishes, you should have an alternate plan in place for a situation when water is unable to drain properly.  Toilet use, even when there is sufficient water to dump a gallon of water into them to get them to "flush" should not be assumed in a workable preparedness plan.

Those on a septic tank can thank their lucky stars! Septics will continue to provide drainage as long as you are not dependant upon a sub pump for below-grade levels of your home.

Those fortunate enough to have a well can expect to have a reliable water source, but that is only for those who have planned ahead and have installed a manual hand pump to draw the water when electric water pumps ceases to function. Generators will supply needed power, but can be relied upon only as long as fuel reserves are available. An alternate solution is solar panel or wind generator power, or a combination of both. Solar generators are another option for those who live in sunny climates.

Plan Ahead

If your preparedness plan has not taken into consideration drinking, bathing, laundry, gardening and household cleaning needs, it is time to put it at the top of the to-do list! You should always store a one-month 28-gallon supply of water for each member of your family or group. Store more if you can, as 28 gallons per person is the absolute bare minimum and does not allow for bathing. Additionally, this recommendation assumes that you are near a source of water: a lake, stream, or river where water can be collected and purified through a quality water purifier such as a Berkey or a Katadyn--get plenty of replacement filters.

If a water source is not nearby, consider a waterbed. Although this is only a short-term solution, it will get you past the beginning of a crisis and from there, you may be forced to relocate to a location with a reliable water source. Look into water containment systems, where water run-off from a roof can be collected.

To store water safely, add 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach for each gallon of water. You can also purify water with Ion or iodine as well, but use caution with iodine as some people can be adversely effected when ingesting iodine. Water storage should be changed every 6 months. But if it's past its optimal shelf life, it is still drinkable. Simply pour the water from one container to another to re-oxygenate it for better taste.

The following list is what you will want to keep on hand for sustainability. On a budget? Each item can be found under the navigation link section of my blog site, including free Do-It-Yourself instructions: 

Here's what you will need:

Store at least 28 gallons of water for each person in water containers or 2 -liter pop bottles (milk cartons leak)

Tough Stuff tub/small animal trough for bathing. A solar shower is another option--these alternatives assume abundant water.

Manual Washing machine—can be a Do-It-Yourself project or purchased

Clothes Line & Pins for laundry

Quality water filter such as a Berkey or Katadyn--always get extra filters

Liquid laundry detergent and dish soap--stock up! Dollar Stores are a good source & easy on the pocket-book (use biodegradable for reuse in gardens)

Portable toilet or an outhouse if your area allows them


Recently, the US and locations abroad have experienced extreme drought and flooding. That alone should have kicked us all in gear to provide the single most important item of any preparedness plan—water! Don’t put off providing for water for drinking, cooking and clean up.

Visit Survival Diva Blog for more information on rural living, gardening, home canning, food storage, and tips on combating skyrocketing food prices.

Survival Diva, Barbara’s preparedness book is available August 1, 2011 Download for just $3.95

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