Updated: Jun 15
Water Storage Prepping Is More Than Filling Up Containers
If your water storage prepping efforts consist just of stocking up on a lot of preserved tap water, then pray that your emergency situation is mild and short lived. Sure, you can store quite a lot of water. But for many people, space and money is at a premium. And even if it wasn't, some emergencies are not mild and short lived. If you've lived in close proximity to the gulf coast... well you probably know what a storm engine that can be.
I definitely hope this doesn't happen, but you may eventually run out of your prepped water supply. This is more likely to happen the more people there are that need that precious resource. So, what are you to do to have a good, practical game plan for a more serious emergency event, such as torrential rain or hurricanes? Know where there are local fresh water sources. And remember that I said fresh water and not salt water. Salt water could be used, but a simple filter is not likely to do the trick as can be the case with fresh water.
Water Source Examples
I'm in Texas. So, I'll look at some of the water sources in my general area.
Tyler State Park has a fairly small lake near some of the campsites and day use areas.
Lake Tyler and Lake Tyler East are a major source of municipal water as well as being used for commercial, private, and public recreational purposes.
Some major East Texas rivers include the Angelina, Neches, and Sabine Rivers.
Can You Actually Use Those Water Sources?
I'm going to give a disclaimer here. Although I am a credentialed safety professional, I am not an attorney or lawyer. As such, nothing in this blog post should be taken as legal advise or similar. It is for informational and educational purposes. With that said, it looks like it can be a little complicated to take water from local water sources.
In the Texas, and probably at least some other states, the water is owned by the state. If you want to use the water, you either have to have some form of permanent water right or a permit. There are some permit exemptions such as if you want to collect water on your own property for domestic or livestock purposes. Essentially, it looks like if you want to collect rain water for one of the exempt purposes, you can do it without going through permitting hoops.
On the flip side, it looks like you would need to apply for a permit to divert/take any water from any of the surface waters in Texas. My current research has not shown me that emergency situations, such as loss of access to drinking water, is an exempt purpose to go out and divert Texas waters. If you have to have the permit ahead of time, that can be a costly long-term endeavor. If you can do that, perhaps it would make more sense to simply catch and protect rain water that hits your home or property.
Is The Water Safe to Drink?
As a former drinking water works operator, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that getting water from a lake, creek, river, etc. is not likely safe to drink directly. You'd need to do some form of purification to deal with the microbes, sediment, and other contaminants that may be present. Thankfully, there are filters for that.
There are camping and military water filters that are reasonably inexpensive and are rated to purify tens of thousands of gallons of water. They usually say they can process most fresh water sources. They usually aren't made to deal with salt water. Keep that in mind all you coastal dwellers. I've seen the ratings, but I've been curious as to how effective such filters actually are. So, I think it would be cool to put them to the test with some samples from one of the local water sources I mentioned.
The not so cool part will be to go through the permitting process to legally be able to take the water in the first place. But, I'll just have to bite the bullet on that one. Given all the hoops of getting surface water through permitting, I may just take a harder look at collecting what rain water does fall. The water code looks to allow it, so it's definitely worth exploring. Also, the water may be less polluted collecting it as it falls rather than from a local source. Additionally, the water is coming to you instead of you to the water.
Well Rounded Water Storage Prepping
It's definitely good to store up adequate supplies of water while you have access. Preservatives can give you peace of mind that your stash will last a good long while. But it's important to know that your stash can run out. Good prepping is also about knowing what's around you and nearby. Realize that you may need additional tools to make use of additional sources.
I talk a lot about water storage prepping because water is vital. It has been since ancient times. That's why you tended to see major cities of civilizations near rivers or lakes. It was useful for drinking and travel, just to name a couple of uses. You can't go very long without water either, so having enough when you need it can't be stressed enough. But we've been talking about situations where water is still abundant, but it isn't in a readily available and drinkable form. What about for those where water is scarce as part of the norm?
Well, I am looking to tackle that question. In the beginning, it's a lot like any other water storage prepping. Store up a backup while you have it. But just because there isn't water in liquid form doesn't mean it isn't all around you. A previous post showed how you can get water from burning fuel. There's also water in the air. While there's usually a lot more water in the air of say, Florida, than it is in Arizona, that doesn't mean Arizona doesn't have a significant amount.
If you've seen your air conditioning unit discharge water condensate, that's usually coming from the moisture in the air. That means you can extract it, purify it, and use it. That can come in quite handy when you have a drought but the water hasn't completely left the regions. We'll look more at cool methods for getting that precious water from the air when you need it most. Stay hydrated everyone!