Thursday, June 16, 2011

TEOTWAWKI -- Water Edition (and a PS on a "Faraday Cage")

One of the advantages of being in the Tinfoil Hat Brigade is that I can write articles about anything I care to!  Today I return to the large subject of The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) and examine the important issue of securing water supplies in a "Bad TEOTWAWKI", where the grid goes down...

If the grid goes down, then it is almost sure that most water utilities will either immediately or soon thereafter be unable to supply water.  This would certainly present grave problems for those in most cities.

Those who have a live well on a farm would be in good shape here.  Those living next to (or very close to) relatively clean lake water or even creek water would be able to cope almost as well (see below re purification).

While the Mormons suggest having a one year supply of food on hand, what is their policy on water?  Storing a one year supply of drinking water seems unrealistic for almost everyone.  In our case (two of us here), that would be 730 gallons of water (6000 lbs) which would be 146 of those 5 gallon jugs from Home Depot...  146?  Where can you put all that?  You can't unless you have a barn or big basement.

If you cannot store that much, well, what is a good amount to store?  EVERYONE should store at least three days worth of water (I believe that is what our own dear government says, in case of storms and other disasters) per person.  The quantity I keep seeing is one gallon of drinking water per person per day (that is how I worked out the above numbers in storing one year's water for two people).  So how much water does Junior Blogger Robert have stored up?  Four gallons...  Once again I fail this part of Modern Survival Theory (MST).  I need to get some more...  At least it is easy (now).

Even if you have a lot more than the three days worth or even 10 days you will eventually run out.  You will need to have a workable supply.

If you live in a rainy enough part of the US you can get some from rain.  That seems to be insufficient to me however for urban / suburban dwellers.  You are at the mercy of the weather...  You would need good catchment systems as well as storage.  Nonetheless, every little bit would help.  Dwellers in the desert cities would have no help here.

Some water can be gotten in the early mornings from dew that collects at night.  You take some rags and go mop up what you can...  Sounds insufficient as well to me.  Do all that work for a glass or two of water...

Now we have to look at getting water from other sources.  And the issues that raises.

If you live close to a nearly clean lake or creek then you have a pretty good place to start.  Collect the water and bring it home.  But, any water from lakes and streams has a REAL PROBABILITY of being contaminated, whether by pollution or microbes.  In a TEOTWAWKI, getting sick is a life and death matter.  Drinking bad water is not an option.  If the water is not polluted (by chemicals), then the two ways I know of to clean the water is with a water filter and boiling the water.

I do not know, anything really, about the larger water filters you see advertised at (etc.).  Apparently an issue with these filters is you need filter elements replaced after xxx gallons of water filtered.  If you buy such a filter, you should buy a LOT of filter elements (just like if you have a gun you should have LOTS of ammo).  I do not know if these water filters are capable of taking out chemical pollutants...

No filter means you have to boil the water (you have matches or lighters, right?).  Let your pot of water sit for awhile so that whatever suspended mud and crud settles to the bottom, then decant the water into a vessel for boiling.  Once you have brought the water to boiling, you don't need to boil it long (three minutes?).  Boiling the water will not remove most chemical pollutants (though it might remove chlorine, from the nearby swimming pool, check that someone please).

What if you are next to the ocean?  I remember reading an old survival manual that digging into the sand just above the high tide line and stopping just as you hit wet sand will yield you relatively fresh water.  Still, it seems that does not get you very much for the work that you have to do...  There are devices called "solar stills" that you can buy that evaporate the seawater where the fresh water then collects onto the plastic above and drips into a vessel.  Apparently you can get solar stills at boat & marine supply stores (I have heard that yachtsmen often have them in case they get stuck out on the water...).

If you live in the mountains, you probably have a better shot at getting water.  Mountains are often rainier than the lowlands around them, and there are lakes and springs around.  Plus, there may be snow that you can collect or allow to come down to you as run-off water in the Spring.

What if you are stuck in Phoenix or Salt Lake City (or even Los Angeles, which is a natural desert IIRC) when the grid goes down?  Robert is unable to offer you a solution...

Water.  You will live less than a week without water.  You can live two - five weeks without food...


Some of you are likely wondering "When is this guy going to start writing about gold and precious metals?"  I will soon.

But, many who buy gold are also interested in survival topics.  I am OK with my holdings in PMs for now, and am dedicating time and resources to at least preparing in other ways, even if only minimally.  Recall the article I wrote in May re TEOTWAWKI.  It is a BIG subject.  To be prepared properly when TSHTF takes a lot of resources and time.

Just today I bought two empty 1 gallon steel paint cans.  Why?  Apparently they would serve well enough as "Faraday Cages" to protect small electronic gear from an EMP.  So, my little shortwave radio, my electronic scale and my fancy calculator that does statistics can all go inside and be protected should big bad Iran set off a nuke above the atmosphere causing a BIG BAD EMP that would wreck our electric grid (read One Second After by William Forstchen, now in paperback).  At least now I would be able to listen to news from around the world, be able to weigh gold & silver coins and calculate stuff.

I also picked up more booze for barter...


  1. Robert,

    Most dwellers in single family homes have a hot water heater (ours holds 50 gallons, which is 10 days for 5 people). Also, the pipes hold many gallons. Lastly, our home in So CA has a fire sprinkler system that holds many more gallons. Immediately following a grid outage, shut off the water to your dwelling so water in your system does not siphon back into the water grid.


  2. I purchased a Kelly Kettle which boils water lickity split. I also have saved my junk mail which I can use to boil my water.

    I keep my old wine bottles and use them to save water instead of plastic which leaks poisons such as Bisphenol A into the water.

  3. You're right about digging in the flats behind the first dune for water at the beach, apparently anyway.

    I once heard a scientist say that to conserve water you should avoid drinking any on the first day as that will tell your body it is in a water scarce period and you will only require half as much from the second day on.

    Sea water can be boiled off and the evaporation collected and allowed to accumulate in one area. Think you can get the sun to do it with some old plastic bottles if the weather is hot enough too..

    A plastic bag over a tree branch with lots of leaves (in the hot sun) will draw the water out and let accumulate in the bottom of the bag. You can do the same with a sheet of plastic stretched over a ditch full of leaves and a pebble in the middle with a collection container underneath.

    Oh yeah, your own urine is fine the first time round. Might be a little salty from what i have heard though.


  4. Well, Matt, maybe Gandhi would do that (have a cup of his urine each morning), but I'll pass on that!


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