Friday, March 21, 2008

Emergency Water Storage

The city of Alamosa has declared a state of emergency in the wake of an outbreak of salmonella. Health officials say the source of the outbreak is the town's tap water. There are 138 people with confirmed or suspected cases of salmonella, said Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health. Seven people remain hospitalized.

As we move into the Second Great Depression crisis situations like this will become very common. Taxes for local infrastructure repair will decrease with the declining economy and real estate values. As the available monies run out our crumbling infrastructure will start to fail at an alarming pace. With the failures comes panic leading to social disorder and localized chaos. It is this chaos that local officials will use as a justification for restriction of liberties and inevitably marshal law.

In planning your disaster preparation strategy it is important not to overlook the low level emergencies that may not be life threatening but are definitely major inconveniences. Without proper planning these types of threats can escalate driving you from your home and into the refugee camps where you are at the mercy of local relief agencies and law enforcement.

How long could you stay in your home if the power went out for an extended period of time? Do you have a backup for your grid-dependent heating system? If the public water supply is compromised do you have the proper water reserves to keep you and your family out of the relief lines for any length of time?

The Midwest United States is experiencing flooding due to high winter snow accumulation and heavy spring rains. As the flood waters move in the sewer systems are inundated and untreated water mingles with the fresh water supply. It takes weeks, if not months, to clean out the affected systems and restore the public drinking supplies.

In Alamosa they are looking at two to three weeks without drinkable public water. The citizen are standing in lines as I write this to receive bottles of safe drinking water for their families. What information is being collected before they dispense water? What kind of rationing is in place? Alamosa is only about thirty miles from my cabin, I will try to get information on the processes involved.

It is recommended that you have one gallon of water per person per day. In the picture above you see three seven gallon containers. These hold enough to supply one person with drinking water for three weeks. Simply fill them from the tap and put them in a closet, they are there when you need them. The blue aqua-tainers can be picked up at Wal-Mart for around seven bucks apiece. This is a cheap and transportable method of storing emergency water supplies.

I would keep at least a three week supply of water on hand for every member of the family. Remember pets.

11 comments:

theotherryan said...

Water is essential. A human can live a long time without food but not without water.

Mountain_Tracker said...

Big Bear- If you're not going to get a well, I'd recommend putting in a 1,000+ gallon cistern outside and then having a 300 gallon tank inside the house and it you look through my photos on the yahoo group, you'll see how I built my parent's underground cistern that never froze this past winter even with the -44 degrees out here.

The Hermit said...

I'd agree with MT.... getting through three weeks is good, but plan for the long term... and don't forget your garden!

BigBear said...

I am planning a 1400 gallon cistern under the greenhouse. Hope for June.

old man in the boonies said...

I am about 1/2 way through constructing a rainwater Catchment system, I started it last season and of course has stop for this long hard winter. But when (perhaps if) the snow melts and I can get going I will make every effort to finish. May I suggest that you do have some gutters on that cabin to do Rainwater if you don't already. I have my own well but it is electicity dependant. It is almost too deep (215ft) for a manual pump system beside the electric pump. So I have to plan on back up and back up for that...

The Other Mike S. said...

How do you deal with pollutants in the water? Bird droppings washing off the roof into your cistern or rain barrels. Is there a way to prevent contaminants up front, or must the water be treated prior to consumption?

BigBear said...

The other mike,

I usually let the water set and settle out then draw out what I need into a 5 gallon bucket and add a tablespoon of chlorine you can also use iodine but I have not tried that.

If the water is really cloudy run it through a clay filter the add the chlorine.

I have a 300 gallon cistern which I use during the summer. Most of the time I carry drinking water but when necessary I will drink from cistern.

westyoungman said...

My concern for my land in Colorado is that the state does not allow rain water catchment. It is illegal. I think you can legally direct the water coming from downspouts to your plants, just cannot catch it and store it - legally. Still, there are many articles I have read of people setting up rain catchment systems in Colorado so I'm not sure what it takes but obviously people are finding ways to do it.

The other mike s.,
Here is a url to some tips on how to set up simple mechanical means of diverting the first 5-10 gallons or so of rainwater that are polluted from roof.

http://www.fieldlines.com/story/
2006/11/11/215230/86

BigBear said...

westyoungman,

That's like taxing sunshine. Don't worry about it just set up the cistern so delivered water can be dumped into the tank. If you see the police coming down the road just kick the downspout off.

The Other Mike S. said...

BigBear: OK, so it's similar to "harvesting" other water from the wild, it must be treated.

Here's a thought: I brew beer and mead (honey wine). With the mead, you traditionally need to boil your must (water/honey mix) to kill any of the "bugs". The problem is, when you boil the must, you lose a lot of the delicate flavors and scents from the honey. This old fart mead maker told me all he does is pasteurize his must. You bring it up to 145F and hold at that temp for 30 minutes. All bugs dead. I actually do a modification of it. You can also pasteurize by getting it to 161F for only 15 seconds. I simply put my must in a pot and put in one of those alarm thermometers set at 161F. As soon as it goes off, I turn off the flame and cover immediately. It gets held at 161F for AT LEAST the 15 seconds.

So, how about crafting something similar for your water? How about a black 5-gallon food-grade plastic container set out in the sun all day? Depending upon the time of year, you might fashion a solar oven of sorts - pieces of wood or cardboard covered with aluminum foil focusing the sun rays onto the container. As that guy on TV says, "set it and forget it".

westyoungman: Thanks for the link. Also, I need to read up on that CO law on rain catchment. That's insane.

fallout11 said...

Like other stupid, inane laws, senseless laws, just ignore it. I just don't see cash-strapped governments sending inspectors around looking for rain barrels....