I’ve written a lot in the past about the risk of an EMP or terrorist action taking out the grid and how that will affect society. But there’s another risk, which is even greater. While we need electricity for a number of things that we do, we need water to survive. Quite literally, we can’t survive more than three days without clean water.
There are many things that could cause our water supply to go dry, including the aforementioned EMP or terrorist action. But there are others as well. In 2014, hundreds of thousands of people were left without water for days, due to a chemical spill in West Virginia. For the last couple of years, Southern California has been just about as bad, not due to a chemical spill, but due to politicians caving in to environmentalists, and giving the farmers’ water to try and save a bait fish that may or may not be nearing extinction.
Drought, power outages, storms and a host of other things can damage or contaminate our water supply, leaving us without this precious commodity. Yet our preparation for such an event often leaves something to be desired.
The typical wisdom in the prepping community is to stockpile water, to buy a good water purification system and to map out what water is available near your home. All of that is good, but I’ve got to say, I don’t think it’s enough. Those measures could still leave you in a place where you don’t have enough water for your family to survive.
For the longest time, my backup plan for water was to get it from a canal that passes two blocks from my home. That’s close enough that I can walk there, dragging along some sort of cart to haul water back home with me. As long as there is water in that canal, I’ve got a source of water that I can easily access and purify with my water purification system.
But what happens if that water supply stops in the midst of an emergency? There really is no guarantee that the canal will always have water in it. In fact, I’ve found that there are times when it has very little water, especially when the water level in the reservoir that feeds the canal is low.
This means that in an emergency, my backup water system might fail. Should that happen, I’ve got less than three days to live, as the next nearest reliable source of water (a river) is four miles away.
I don’t know how this works out for you, but for me, the math isn’t very good. Perhaps you have more sources of water available to you and perhaps they are more dependable than my neighborhood canal… or perhaps not. Either way, unless your water source is large enough to ensure that it will continue flowing and that others won’t shut it off, you need something more. You need the ability to provide yourself with water, contained on your own property.
There are two water sources which we could say are basically self-contained, in the sense that they are not dependent on what other people do. Those other people might turn off the flow of water to my canal or even dam up the stream that runs through my brother-in-law’s property, leaving him without water. So I need something that they can’t turn off, without coming on my property to do so.
That leaves me with two options:
Of the two, rainwater collection is easier and cheaper. If your home already has gutters on it, then all you need is something to act as a cistern. As long as you get enough rainfall, you will have an ongoing source of fresh water to use.
Sadly, rainwater collection is not legal in all 50 states. Government environmental agencies in some states have ruled that all the water belongs to the state, so citizens aren’t allowed to collect it. While that’s absurd on its face, it’s a little hard to battle city hall, and even harder the farther up the governmental ladder you climb.
But there are ways around that. You could bury your cistern, making it harder to detect. A French drain is underground too, and without actually excavating to see what you have buried underground, it’s hard to tell the difference between a French drain and a rainwater collection system. Your other option is to build a rainwater collection system and just not hook it up until a crisis comes and you really need it. I seriously doubt that any government officials are going to be going around checking to see who is illegally capturing rainwater, when there is no water running through the pipes.
While rainwater capture is cheaper and easier to build, drilling a well is more secure. Wells aren’t dependent on rainfall, as underground water exists even when it’s not raining. As long as you have a manual pump to draw the water out of the ground, you don’t even need to have electricity to get water from your won well.
The best, of course, is to do both, if you can. That way, no matter what, you won’t be limited to the same water supply that all the unprepared people are using. You’ll have your own supply to keep you and your family going.
So get to work. Make sure that you’re going to have reliable water, no matter what happens. In the mean time, keep your powder dry (to protect your water source) and your survival gear close at hand.
Kriss and Dr. Rich