Water Storage: Alternate Water Sources

In our BabyStep 2: Water Storage page we recommend to store a 2-week supply of water for your family. This should be enough to sustain you through the majority of shorter-term emergencies. But what if water is unavailable for a longer period of time? Do you know where the closest source of water to your house is? Are you sure the water is drinkable? Some people like to have several months to a year worth of water stored (check out these options discussed on the Utah Preppers website), but for a lot of us that just isn’t practical. This post will discuss some other means of finding drinking water in case you are not as amazing as the “Preppers” folks are yet 😉

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Alternate Water Sources

Water in your home
– Hot water heater tank
– Toilet tanks (don’t use water that contains colored disinfectant!)
– Water pipes
– Ice in the freezer
– Canned food

Traditional bodies of water near your home
– Rivers and streams
– Ponds and lakes

Collect water from the air and plants
– Snow and ice
– Rain water
– Morning dew can be mopped up from rocks and plants (especially effective in desert areas). The easiest method is to use a handkerchief or shirt to gently mop up the dew and then wring it into a container. It is possible to mop up almost a quart an hour using this method!

Obtaining water from the soil
– A hole dug in a damp or muddy area allows water to seep in and accumulate
– Mud wrong in a shirt or other cloth will force out water (muddy water can be partially cleared by allowing it to stand overnight and then running it through several thickness of cloth)
– Make an evaporation still

Locate sources of groundwater (in mountainous areas)
– Sloping side of the hills in dry mountain ranges
– Small seeps and springs can be found by following narrow canyons and gullies up to their heads
– The water table is usually close to the surface and you could locate it by digging at the base of cliffs and rocks where lots of vegetation is thriving, at the base of large sand dunes on the shady or steep sides, anywhere the ground is damp or muddy, in low spots where patches of salt grass, cattails, willows or elderberries grow

Please note: Depending on the nature of the emergency situation you are in, some of these sources may be contaminated so make sure you have a plan in place for water purification. It never hurts to purify just to be on the safe side.

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  • Lorleine B.

    As I was reading through the vast information on this site I was very interested in the different sources of water you can find. I remember going on a survival girls camp one year and they showed us how we could lash a small tarp horizontally up on 4 tree trunks which were about 4-6 feet apart. You then put a small rock into the center of the tarp which causes the tarp to form a funnel. The point should be about 1-2 feet from the ground. You then put a container of some kind under the tarp at the point of the funnel. At night when the dew comes out of the ground it will collect on the underneath of the tarp, and the water will drain down to the point and into the container. Much easier than soaking it up off rocks.

  • Lorleine B.

    As I was reading through the vast information on this site I was very interested in the different sources of water you can find. I remember going on a survival girls camp one year and they showed us how we could lash a small tarp horizontally up on 4 tree trunks which were about 4-6 feet apart. You then put a small rock into the center of the tarp which causes the tarp to form a funnel. The point should be about 1-2 feet from the ground. You then put a container of some kind under the tarp at the point of the funnel. At night when the dew comes out of the ground it will collect on the underneath of the tarp, and the water will drain down to the point and into the container. Much easier than soaking it up off rocks.

  • CTDaffodil

    when we were kids we always filled up the tub and my mom would fill the washing machine with cold water if it started to thunder. Sounds wacky and did back then but the year our well house was hit by lightening (took 3 days to replace) and it burned up the well pump – you would be amazed at how fast 2 bath tubs of water can go….and it was used for washing up and flushing only. The washing machine water didn’t get used that time –

  • CTDaffodil

    when we were kids we always filled up the tub and my mom would fill the washing machine with cold water if it started to thunder. Sounds wacky and did back then but the year our well house was hit by lightening (took 3 days to replace) and it burned up the well pump – you would be amazed at how fast 2 bath tubs of water can go….and it was used for washing up and flushing only. The washing machine water didn’t get used that time –

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  • Okay, you’ve got me blushing now. That doesn’t happen too often.

    Another source: canned food. Many types of canned food use water instead of syrup, so if necessary you could eat some of these cans of food and then drink the (flavored) water.

    It’s also a good idea to fill up your bathtub immediately after any “event” such as an earthquake or something that might require you to turn off your pipes due to water contamination, or if the water supply is cut off. This will provide a good amount of water for hygiene and other purposes should you be without access for a while. You can actually buy a one-time-use bladder for this type of thing, but I don’t think it’s worth the money.

  • Okay, you’ve got me blushing now. That doesn’t happen too often.

    Another source: canned food. Many types of canned food use water instead of syrup, so if necessary you could eat some of these cans of food and then drink the (flavored) water.

    It’s also a good idea to fill up your bathtub immediately after any “event” such as an earthquake or something that might require you to turn off your pipes due to water contamination, or if the water supply is cut off. This will provide a good amount of water for hygiene and other purposes should you be without access for a while. You can actually buy a one-time-use bladder for this type of thing, but I don’t think it’s worth the money.