Today we’ll explore how to obtain/maintain water for emergencies.

The first step is to consider how you currently get your drinking water. Are you on a city water/septic system? Or, do you get your water from a well? If you’re on a city system there may or may not be water flowing during an emergency. Additionally, the water supply may become contaminated. You’ll want to consider storing your emergency water, rather than depending on the water system to supply it for you.

If you currently get your water from a private well, it is possible to install a hand pump that works along side your current submersible electric pump. For a top of the line deep well hand pump, Bison Hand Water Pumps offers a kit for around $1500. Ouch. There are cheaper hand pumps out there, such as this one for $75, but it’s only rated for a depth of 22 feet. If your well’s static depth (height from the ground to the top of the water table) is under 30 feet, you can get away with a shallow well pump like the cheaper one above. However, most wells would need a more expensive deeper pump, which is going to be costly. From my research it looks like some hand pumps can be operated along side an electric pump, and some can’t, so make sure to do your research before purchasing.

If there are alternate sources of water nearby, they’ll need to be purified either through filtering, treating, or boiling. From the American Red Cross:

  • Boiling: Boil water for 3-5 minutes (rolling boil)
  • Disinfection: 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water. Stir and let stand for 30 min. Repeat if there’s no slight bleach smell

A cursory look at water filters at shows a starting price of $65 for the typical filter, with replacement filters costing $10-30. A filtering water bottle ($40-$50) might be a good purchase to have around for emergencies, but replacement filters for it are costly at $25.

The bottom line:

  1. Know your need – at the Maxwell House we’re looking at 3+ gallons per day
  2. Know your sources – we aren’t storing much water (1 case of bottled), but Kevin is savvy about alternate sources in the house (hot water heater). We have a well, but it’s too deep for a cheap-o pump. There is a small lake 1/4 mile from our house.
  3. Know what’s required of you next – Water is $1 gallon at WalMart. I think we’ll stock a couple of days worth of these. I need to find our bleach and make sure I have a small container for our portable emergency kit (backpack). I’m going to keep an eye out for a sale on filters/filtering water bottles. It’d be nice to have one someday for all of those family backpacking trips I have planned in my head 😉