Saturday, May 24, 2008

Water Storage Thoughts

A lot of Utahns spend a lot of time thinking about food storage. There has been a lot of press lately about various emergency situations, and a lot of people have been caught unawares. In a worst case scenario, the house or other building that stores the food may become unsafe or impossible to enter (to say the least), making the food storage inside worthless. Still, there are other situations where food storage is important. When I was laid off last year, we spent about six weeks without me bringing in a paycheck. My wife was still employed, and her meagar paycheck combined with my severance pay and any money we had stored in savings kept us afloat, but we managed to stretch things quite a bit with the food storage that we had built up. It doesn't take a natural disaster for food storage to become important.

There is a recommendation that where possible and legal, each family should store a year's worth of food, and at least two weeks worth of clean water. I don't know what the recommendation is for actual amount of food, but the water estimate is at least a gallon per person per day.

Where they came up with that number, I don't know. I've heard that everyone should drink X cups of water per day, and I've also heard that the X amounts of water per day recommendation is largely unfounded. Even so, a gallon seems like a lot. If you consider that the water might also be used for things like washing and so on in an emergency, it suddenly seems like a woefully inadequate amount. Either way, the whole gallon per person per day thing is still better than anything than I can come up with, so I'm going to go with it until I see something better.

How does one handle water storage? Our last attempt involved cheaply-purchased gallon jugs of water from the grocery store. Unfortunately, storage space was limited where we were, and the little water we had was "out of sight, out of mind". When storing consumables, even water, rotation is important. Even water jugs from the grocery store have expiration dates (typically about a year from the purchase time). When we remembered the water, it seemed strange to tap into our water supply for a drink instead of just getting it from the tap. And tap water doesn't seem to taste that great when stored for long periods of time. It seemed to be a poor solution.

I have a new solution in mind. Our local grocery store sells 5-gallon jugs of filtered water, as seen at office water coolers. Three jugs per person easily achieves the "at least a gallon per person per day for 14 days" goal. In the case of our 3-person family, we should be able to get by with only nine jugs. To dispense the water, we would of course need a water cooler-type dispenser. The main requirement here would be that the cooler can still operate with no power. If there was power, then the water could be chilled. I don't know how much such a thing would cost, but I'm sure it's out there, and I'm hoping its price doesn't put it outside of our means.

Rotation is still an issue. Our local grocery store also provides reasonably cheap refills for said 5-gallon jugs, assuming we don't just buy our own water filter to refill it ourselves. We have even more of an incentive to use this water than before, because the town that we've just moved to isn't known for its high water quality. In fact, Magna water is known throughout the region for its poor taste. Having a water cooler nearby gives us a way to rotate through the water, and keep from having to buy bottled water to avoid the taste of our tap water. I figure if we toss another jug or two in for a buffer zone, we should be able to rotate through our water supply without a problem.

Obviously, this is not a solution we have implemented yet. We need to look into water coolers that meet our small requirements, so if anybody has a recommendation, it would be appreciated. We also need to pick up the water jugs. It's not reasonable for us to buy it all at once. But we can buy one or two a week until we're up to our full requirements. Does this seem like a reasonable idea to you guys?

I have some thoughts on food storage too, but this is a long enough post for now. I'll write up some food storage thoughts later. Let me know what you think.


  1. Sounds like a great solution, actually. They make dispensers for those water jugs that don't do heating or cooling, and I'm sure those are cheap. The hot/cold ones start at $140 at Costco, which isn't terribly expensive.

  2. Oops, I missed the countertop one that they sell at for $75, and there's a standalone one at Home Depot for $99.


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