Sunday, June 26, 2011

Water Storage

A gallon of water per day per person for your water storage is what is recommended.  That's 7 gallons a week, 14 gallons for 2 weeks, 28 gallons for 4 weeks (one month), 364 gallons for one year.  364 gallons per person!  For a family of 5 (that's how many in our family), you will need 1,820 gallons of water storage for a year.  That seems like a lot of water!  So, what should we do to store that much water?

Before figuring out how to store this much water, I had to stop and think if this was an accurate number.  Is this number based on just drinking water or will it include the other uses of water such as washing dishes, showers, washing clothes, cleaning, watering the yard, etc...  How much water do we use on a daily basis regularly?  On average, a person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day.  I used this calculator to see how much water my family of 5 (3 adults, 2 children) uses on average.  We use about 264 gallons per day.  That's 8,026 gallons a month and 75,555 gallons per year!  Don't forget your pets too.  Depending on the size of your pet, you are probably going to need up to a gallon of water a day for each pet too. We have a medium sized dog, so I'm thinking at least a half a gallon a day for him. 

Now, if you were in an emergency situation, you are definitely going to have to be careful about how you use your water that you have stored.  The 1 gallon a day per person is going to pretty much be your drinking water.  You are going to have to take less showers/baths, rarely flush the toilet if at all, wash dishes in a sink full of water instead of letting the water run to rinse your dishes and sticking them in the dishwasher, and find a way to recycle your water to do things like water your garden.   If you're in the desert like us, your grass is going to have to die.  I'm so sorry.

So, how on earth can we store this much water?  The minimum is 1,820 gallons for a year for my family.  We live in a little town house, so storing it inside is not something that can be done.  We decided to start small.  We first started with 72 hours of water storage for our family.  A case of 8 oz bottled waters (24 bottles) is a 72 hour storage for one person.  That's easy enough.  Cases of water are cheap.  I've seen them for as little as $2.50 each.  You can even be a little picky with brand at that price. 

Next we have worked on a two week's storage.  That's 14 gallons per person.  You can buy gallons of water at the store for as little as 78 cents each.  You might even be able to find them as little as 50 cents each.  Or, even better...  You know all of those 2 liter soda bottles and juice bottles that you throw into the garbage when you are done with them?  They are perfect for water storage!  You don't want to use just any plastic bottle.  You want ones that are food grade quality.  They will say PET(E) on them somewhere.  Do not use milk jugs or any that look like milk jugs.  THEY LEAK!  The plastic breaks down and it is a mess.  I speak from experience on this matter.  We bought water in 5 gallon jugs from the grocery store and went into our closet where we had them stored one day only to find soggy carpet and a huge mess!
For our family, this only goes so far.  It is hard to find the space to store all of these water bottles.  So we've begun looking into some other options for water storage.  Here is what we have come up with:

5 gallon water containers.  These are nice if you want to store water in the house or you want to move the water very often.  The last one is collapsible which is nice to travel with because it takes less space as you use more of the water.  

3.5 Gallon Stackable

I like the water bricks because they are stackable.  They only hold 3 ½ gallons, which makes them easy to carry and move.  They are pricey though.  I’m not sure if the convenience is worth the cost.  If you are looking for something less expensive that can be stacked, you might like the water boxes.  The bad thing about those is that you don’t want to stack them very high because the weight of the water will crush the boxes.  

My favorite water storage tank that I have found out there is the Super Tanker.  You have the choice of 125 or 250 gallons.  I like that they hold a lot of water and I like that they have 2 spouts on them including one at the bottom so you don’t have to worry about how to get water out of the bottom of the tank.  You don’t have to siphon your water out which is very nice.

Last, but not least is an option I’ve seen many people with.  That is the swimming pool!  This is probably the most fun option, but not necessarily the best option.  It really depends on where you are as to how well this will work for you.  First, they not only cost quite a bit of money and water to fill, but you do have to pay for upkeep.  Some people choose pools that have chlorine and other chemicals; some people choose pools that use salt.  Either way, you will have to purify the water before you can drink it.  With a salt pool, you will need to use a desalinator to take out the salt.  Make sure whatever purification system you have will purify as many gallons of water as you have.  You will also need a pool cover if the electricity were to go out because once the filters stop working, a beautiful green algae will grow in your pool.  A cover will help reduce this problem.  You can use a tarp if you don’t have a pool cover.  Everything I have read so far is that your pool should be used as backup storage, not primary water storage.