View Full Version : Saving water for when power goes out

2-4-11, 12:04pm
I thought we would lose power recently when we had a big storm. I bought several 2.5 gallon water containers (with water) and then I usually fill 6 of my big Tupperware containers (about 2 gallons each). If I need more, I fill some of my big cooking pots.
I keep empty 2.5 gallon used water containers and cut a hole in the top and fill them with water and then set them beside each sink. They have a faucet on them, and it works great for washing hands.
I wouldn't use the stored water from the tap for drinking unless I boiled it in the fireplace. Have any of you ever added bleach to your stored water? How much do you use?
Do you have a water purifier for emergencies?
Just trying to fine-tune my power-outage preparations.
Oh....we also fill our tubs for using to flush the toilets. No-power life improved alot when I figured that one out!

2-4-11, 12:51pm
My next big wished-for purchase is going to be a Berkey water filter like Bae has. http://www.berkeywaterfilterstore.com/

2-4-11, 1:01pm
We have a greenhouse that is passive solar heated. We have a wall of barrels filled with water. When the sun heats the barrels, the heat from the barrels radiates into the greenhouse. If the power went out we could use this water for flushing toilets, but I wouldn't drink it as it is very old water. We did put some bleach into each barrel but hubby can't remember how much he used.

We are on a well here, so if the power goes out our well pump won't work. We have a generator we could use instead. Also, one source of water that many people don't think of is their hot water tank. There is lots of water in it that you can access if you get desperate.

Another source of water is a swimming pool or hot tub (if you have them). Again, not water to drink, but good for flushing the toilets.

2-4-11, 1:21pm
I just found this site that has some very helpful information regarding bleaching water: http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/surv/bleach.htm

2-4-11, 1:37pm
I live on an island out in the ocean, off the west coast of the USA. It's 56 square miles in size, and primarily it's a couple of rocks, with a layer of sedimentary rock, and some glacial drift left atop that here and there. You can drill for water in some places, but the aquifers are pretty spotty at best, often you're just drilling into fractured rock and hoping for the best. Rainfall is 10-25 inches down by sea level here, much of the precipitation in the region never makes it over, it gets raked off by the Cascade Mountains, Vancouver Island, or the Olympic Mountains.


But, there's a 2400 foot mountain here, the tallest thing for ~60 miles. It manages to rake off a bit of rain, and has spots that get 60+ inches of rain. And I live halfway up it.

So, from the top, here's a tour of my water supply:

The fire observation tower on the very top, built by the CCC:



Don't get distracted by the view, we're here for the water....



Here's what we're dealing with, in terms of the land. Doesn't look so promising, eh?


But even up here, at the very top of the mountain, water pools up from rainfall and mist, and seeps out of the living rock:


And as an aside, amidst all this huge scenery, look down:


Yes, freshwater clams. At 2400 feet above sea level on a small island in the ocean. Go figure.

2-4-11, 1:37pm
Here's some scans from the top of the tower:



If you look sort of in the middle of this, you can see Mountain Lake. It, and several other small lakes, collect much of the water that runs down and oozes down the mountain.


Mountain Lake is reasonably big, and full of fish:


Several streams flow out of Mountain Lake and the other small lakes:





They flow into Cascade Lake, which is quite large - it's about a 3 mile hike around the oval-shaped lake, it's full of fish, it's great to swim in, and perfect for small boats:


From Cascade Lake, we withdraw it by several pipes to my neighborhood's water treatment facility (no pictures, I couldn't find the keys easily), then it gets pumped up to these two tanks by my house for the use of 4-5 households:

Small tank on my lot corner, for filling fire trucks:


Big tank for drinking water and fire flow pressure, even if the power is out:


Problem solved.

2-4-11, 2:39pm
Hmmmm........thanks bae, that was very helpful. :confused:

2-4-11, 3:06pm
Well, you asked :-)

I don't lose water pressure during power outages of many days.

If the water system fails, I have a Berkey filter, and a year-round stream out back. The Berkey is really handy for questionable water. I also have a fair number of 55 gallon, 20 gallon, and 5 gallon containers, most of which I keep empty, as I can easily fill them ahead of need, and that way I don't have to worry so much about chlorination levels.

I also have a hand-cranked desalination unit, and a powered one on my boat, and live surrounded by the Pacific.

2-4-11, 3:52pm
I'm on a well which is electric, so if we lose power, we lose water too. I'll look into the Berkey filter. It looks good. I'd like to be able to drink the water I save, even after a week. If I had a filter like that, I could.
P.S. I forget the name of it, but I was reading about something you could buy and hook it up to an outdoor faucet and it would pump water out of your well. Anyone hear of that?

2-4-11, 4:20pm
Bae......that looks like a beautiful island. Is there a school on there? Hospital? Do you work there, or do you always have to take a boat somewhere? Is that a temperate region?

2-4-11, 5:24pm
That water filter does look interesting but I am curious about using it with our sulphur and iron laden water. Don't forget that there is also water in the sump hole that can be used for many purposes.

2-4-11, 6:07pm
My next big wished-for purchase is going to be a Berkey water filter like Bae has. http://www.berkeywaterfilterstore.com/

You don't need the entire filter set up, just purchase replacement filters and adapt your own filtering containers. I use a tall tupperware container in which I 'drilled' a hole, and the water filters and collects into a regular gallon water bottle beneath. This takes much less space too. That will save you about half the $$ (depending on what filter set-up you purchase). I got my filters (2 of them) for 99$, including shipping, on ebay.

I'll post photos if you like.

2-4-11, 6:11pm
Yes, I'd like some pics Gina. Thanks.
We don't have a sump, but we do have a big water heater, so that's a source too.

2-4-11, 6:45pm
Bae......that looks like a beautiful island. Is there a school on there? Hospital? Do you work there, or do you always have to take a boat somewhere? Is that a temperate region?

We have a public K->12 school, a 7th-Day-Adventist K-12 campus, and a variety of preschools and private elementary schools. We have several medical centers, but no hospital - the nearest one is over on the mainland, and we as a community purchase insurance to keep a medflight helicopter available there to rescue us, weather permitting. Most people who live here year-round (~4500 people) work locally, as commuting to the mainland is expensive and involves several hours - the ferry takes about 1.5 hours, and you need to be in line about an hour before it leaves.

It's a tremendously temperate spot, surrounded by ~45-55 degree ocean water year-round. Rarely freezing in the winter, rarely about 75 in the summer. The weather is even sunny much of the year, as the Cascade and Olympic mountains on the mainland, and Vancouver Island, manage to rake off much of the nastier precipitation. Rainfall here varies from 14 inches to 50+, depending on the microclimate.

2-4-11, 6:58pm
Is there alot of growth in housing going on there?
Quite awhile back I communicated with Robert Bateman's assistant (he's an artist on Vancouver Island), and she said they, unfortunately, were having a ton of growth there. Maybe its slowed down alot in the past couple of years.
Your island sounds like a wonderful place.

2-4-11, 7:13pm
Is there alot of growth in housing going on there?

There had been, and growth management was/is one of our biggest issues. The recent economic downturn slowed things down hugely though. Building permit issuance dropped to almost nothing in the past few years, and sales of existing homes are down. About half the homes here are vacation/second homes, so the housing market is a bit weird. And the combination of the most expensive real estate in the state and just about the lowest median income makes things very difficult - we have a brutal affordable housing issue.

One of the things I do in my infinite spare time is to serve on the County Planning Commission as my island's representative, helping craft much of the growth management and critical areas/shoreline legislation.

Your island sounds like a wonderful place.

It's great. Alas, the NY Times just picked the area as their #2 slot in their "top places to visit in 2011", and named my favorite restaurant in the article :-(

2-4-11, 8:48pm
Oh man........that's a bummer! Every time I hear a segment on TV or in the newspaper, about their choice for visiting a beautiful, remote area, I cringe for that area. I think the economic downturn is a good thing for some places. I know its really slowed the massive growth headed towards our rural area, and I could relax for awhile. Hopefully the growth towards your island will stay slow!

2-4-11, 9:37pm

This is a link to the LDS "provident living" web page. We store water in "juice containers", they are sturdy plastic. I think the website says if you get your water from a treated source you don't have to put bleach in the jugs. Though I clean my jugs first with bleach water and then add tap water.

The website has lots of other good food/water storage information. We had friends who would always "fill the tub" when a storm was coming so they could use that water to flush the toilets -- we were all on well water then.

2-4-11, 9:39pm
Yes, I'd like some pics Gina. Thanks.

Will do. First I have to take the pictures. I'll probably start a separate thread for it.

Bae, beautiful area. Thanks for the photos. Hope it doesnt grow too much. Our area used to be on several of those 'best places to live' lists and lots of people came here and changed its character. It's still nice however, but not as nice as it used to be.

ps, a sanitizer that I use to sterilize bottles, thanks to the brewing and cheese making folks is StarSan. It sanitizes without leaving a chlorine residue. I don't know about putting it in water to keep it safe however. If you store water w a bit of bleach in it, you can always let it 'air' or run it through the berkey to remove it.

Here in The Acts of God Themepark (SoCal), I store both drinking water and general water in separate containers, and there is always the 3,000 gallon fish pond... you never know.

2-5-11, 3:19pm
Yo Bae! How did you get those big pics posted? I'm struggling with posting pics. Sometimes it works and sometimes the icon for posting images isn't even there. I like the big pics, and not just the thumbnails. Care to share how you did it?

2-5-11, 4:40pm
Yo Bae! How did you get those big pics posted? I'm struggling with posting pics. Sometimes it works and sometimes the icon for posting images isn't even there. I like the big pics, and not just the thumbnails. Care to share how you did it?

I don't use the icon for images, I do it the Old Fashioned Way, by hand:

1 - host the image somewhere, I use Picasa, but there are a bunch of free image hosting sites
2 - get a link to the image from your site, it will be a URL
3 - in your post here, insert: "{img}http://myimagesite.com/the-rest-of-the-URL{/img}"

Note that the {-brackets need to actually be square brackets "[" "]" when you put it in.

The "img" and "/img" tags surrounding the URL of your picture are the key.

2-6-11, 4:29pm
Bae. Incredible pictures!!! Thank you so kindly for sharing them with us. Heaven does exist.

2-8-11, 9:12am
I also have a well so we lose water when the electricity is out......this happens to us 3-4 times a year. Last winter we were without power for 5 days.

Our well water tests safe but it tastes absolutely horrid.....tastes very salty. So we have to buy gallons jugs of water at the store. I keep 72-108 gallons at all times. I hate this.....It is absolutely horrible to be using so much plastic but I have tried multiple kinds of filters including reverse osmosis and nothing works.

I also store well water in half-gallon grape juice jugs. I have 48 half gallons so far and add a new half-gallon each week. When our power goes out we use this water for washing.

We have 55-gallon drums and a manual pump at each animal pen for giving to the animals if the electricity is out.

We have a Big Berkey.......it did not work to filter out the nasty taste of our well water BUT last September when involved in an Preparedness Challenge we got a bucket of brown river water from the river and put it through the Berkey and it came out Crystal Clear and tasting much better than our well water.

I cannot use bleach so I just try to empty and refill my half-gallon jugs regularly.

2-8-11, 9:50am
Wow mnmlz, that's alot of work!
I was reading on one preparedness site that you can can water to preserve it. (like you would preserve food)
Have you ever had your well water tested? Sounds like you might have a problem there! I wonder how they preserve the water in the plastic containers from the store? It never says it has any preservative/chlorine in it. I worry about all the junk leaching out of the plastic, into the water too, for the stuff we drink/cook.
Maybe if your water is so full of sodium, it messes up the filtering process?
Can you buy water from a company that sells it in big glass jugs that they use over and over?
Maybe you need one of those hand-crank desalination machines that bae spoke of, before you put your well water through a filter?

2-8-11, 10:13am
Our well water tests safe but it tastes absolutely horrid.....tastes very salty.

Have you ever had your well water tested?
Can you buy water from a company that sells it in big glass jugs that they use over and over?

Yes our water has been tested three times over 7 years with similar results. It is safe, and does not test as too salty and yet salty is how it tastes.

The only glass bottled water I have seen is very expensive and I would not be able to do it. Plus the source is 75 miles away so would be difficult to obtain.

The water delivery services will not come out here (I keep checking). Plus I think those 5 gallon bottles the delivery services use have BPA.

Thank you!

2-8-11, 12:51pm
Can you involve any agency close by to help you figure out why it tastes so bad? What part of the country do you you live in?

bae.....thanks for the instructions on how you posted your pics. I'll try to figure it all out.

2-8-11, 2:17pm
In my part of SoCal, our tap water comes from a reservoir and it tastes horrid. Water is the beverage of preference for me, so I buy bottled. I used to buy water from the vending machines outside of stores for 35cents/gallon, but that got to be a real pain, and it wasn't all that good. I now buy costco bottled water in gallons. Plastic gallons. Perhaps if I were young and facing years of drinking plastic-tainted water I would worry, but I don't.

I purchased my Berkey filter to improve the tap water and it really does. It's still not as good-tasting as Costco water (which I still drink when I want plain water), but that might be what I"m used to. I now filter the tap water, put it in the fridge, then carbonate it, add some fruit juices, a bit of sweet, and it tastes absolutely wonderful. :)

The costco water costs about 70 cents/gallon. The Berkey filters cost $99 for 2, and they will filter up to 3,000 gallons (of relatively clean water) each before needing replacement. So it will take about 140 gallons of filtered tap water to break even - not that much over the course of a year.

Using filtered water even makes oatmeal taste better. :)

2-8-11, 2:33pm
What about getting an reverse osmosis system?

2-8-11, 3:25pm
No reason to. The tap water is safe, just bad tasting. I buy or filter what I drink and some of what is used in cooking. If I recall, I think I have read that quite a bit of water is wasted in the process of RO filtering. I could be wrong about that however. (edit to add: at wikipedia, they say only 5 to 15% of the water is re-captured - the rest goes into wastewater.) And they are far more complex than a simple drip,drip passive filter.

And there are no worries about a system that requires running water (pressure) to work in case 'the big one' hits. Purchasing the Berkeys was as much as a back-up for emergencies as anything else.

2-8-11, 3:39pm
I think the ROs are better than they used to be, but they do waste water. I'm going to look into a Berkey filter. I guess if we had a power failure in the winter after a big snow storm, we could just filter the snow. Would want to use yellow snow though. ;)