Securing a Water Supply

Rainwater Catchment Systems

Here’s a short video showing how to make one type of catchment system.  Food grade fifty-five gallon drums cost from $40-80 plus shipping on the internet.  You might be able to get some from local sources.  Call around and see what you can find.  Never use a drum that has stored chemicals or oil based products. The only thing missing from this system is an overflow outlet.

Here’s another link: in which putting in an overflow valve is discussed.

Here’s a video of the “DIY Cheapest Rain Barrel EVER” from a plastic trash can

And an article on how to make a rain barrel out of a trash can.

You can also link a series of containers together as some of the articles describe.  You may also need to put in a screened vent in the tops of each barrel to let air in so suction doesn’t build up as you draw water.  All open entrances and exits from the barrels, including the final overflow hose, need to have screen covering them to keep out mosquitoes.

A 55 gallon barrel of water weighs over 200 pounds when full, so you also need to put your barrels on a sturdy support system.  And it needs to be high enough off the ground to fit a bucket under the spigot if you’re not going to just dip water out of the barrel.

One other thing, if you live in a climate where you have temperatures below freezing during the winter, you will need to drain the system – to keep the barrels and hoses from splitting as the water freezes and thaws.  In late fall before freezing weather sets in, begin storing the water inside your house, basement or garage (if you can insulate it enough to keep it from freezing out there).  Remember the water bladder in the bathtub.  Here’s a link to the least expensive one I’ve found, but it should only be used in a bathtub, so the tub provides support.

Five-gallon buckets weigh forty pounds when full, so bringing water into the house in them is manageable, even if you store it in larger containers in the house.

Filtering and Purifying Rainwater

To use rainwater for drinking, you need to first filter it, and then treat it with chlorine bleach.  Here is an easy to make homemade filtering system:

Basic  Survival Rainwater Filtration System

You will need:

1) Two five-gallon buckets that can rest down inside one another enough that, when stacked, the buckets won’t tip over while you’re filling it.

2) 15-20 pounds granulated activated charcoal (the kind you use in fish tanks with NO chemical additives, not the kind you use to barbecue with).

3) A large package of 100% polyester quilt batting.  (Do not use cotton batting, as it will mildew and rot).

4) 12 inches of non-toxic, ½ inch vinyl tubing

5) A tube of waterproof sealant

6) A sturdy table large enough to hold the stacked buckets – low enough for easy filling of the top bucket, but high enough to put a five gallon water container underneath.  (Use a table that you don’t mind cutting a hole in, to run the tubing through).

Step one: Drill several ¼ inch drainage holes in the bottom of bucket A.  (This bucket will hold the activated charcoal.)

Step two: Drill a hole in the bottom of bucket B large enough for the length of tubing to fit snugly up through this hole far enough it won’t pull out. Seal around the tubing with the sealant. (Test the seal to make sure it’s waterproofed before you use the system.) The tubing should hang down from the bottom of bucket B.

Step three: Drill a hole through the top of the table large enough for the tubing from bucket B to fit through easily and into a 5-gallon water collection container placed under the table.

Step four: Fill bucket A with enough of the activated charcoal (fill bucket about 2/3 full) to make a thick layer. Thoroughly flush the activated charcoal with water until the water runs clear to get out all the charcoal dust.  Set it aside to drain well.

Step five: Fill bucket B with several layers of the polyester quilt batting. (Fill it to the point where bucket A will sit inside bucket B, but without compressing the batting too much.)

Step six: Put a clean, 5 gallon water container under the table to catch the filtered water.

To set up the system, put bucket B (the one with the polyester batting) on top of the table so that the tubing goes through the hole in the table and into the water container below the table.  Set bucket A firmly into bucket B.  Fill bucket A with rain water and let it filter through the system into the collection container under the table.

Important: The filtered water will still need to be treated with 10 drops unscented chlorine bleach per gallon.  (Stir to mix and let sit for 30 minutes after treatment.)  If you use the system daily, the charcoal will need to be replaced once a month.  If you filter water less frequently, you may be able to change the charcoal less frequently.

Since the charcoal is the most expensive part of the system, you might check around to see if you can buy bulk amounts cheaper – just make  sure it has no chemical additives.


Here are some more ideas for homemade water filtration:

To purify water with bleach:

You should use an unscented household bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. When using bleach to purify, add 10 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.  Be very careful not to use more than that, as chlorine is very toxic in larger amounts.

If bleach is not available, here is information on solar pasteurization techniques and solar cookers:

And if you have some plumbing skills, here’s a neat idea from another doomer – a rolling sink, with a built-in water supply:

Cheap and Easy Solar Cooker and Water Purifier

This is another neat and inexpensive idea for an inexpensive homemade cooker/water purifier.  And as the author explains, you can also purify dirty water in it (see the second picture down on the right side of page).  As the water in the open black pot heats, it evaporates and then, condenses and runs down the inside of the plastic bag to collect in the corner of the bag and you can drain the purified water into a clean container for drinking while the impurities are left in the bottom of the pot.

And here’s a video of Off-grid John, using his own homemade version of the cooker to make supper up there in Tickville.  (Be sure to check out his blog.)

You can also use sunlight to purify water in a clean plastic soda bottle.  The water must be clear,  with no particulate matter. (Filter through clean cloth  first, if it isn’t).   Lay the bottles outside where they will get full sunlight for at least 6 hours.  Laying them on aluminum foil will increase the UV-A penetration, as will pointing them toward the sun.  Do not use a glass bottle, thick  or colored plastic bottles as these make it hard for the UV-A rays to fully penetrate the bottles.  Also, be sure and remove the labels first.





4 Responses to Securing a Water Supply

  1. Pingback: Doom and the Working Poor – Food and Water for the Long Haul | The Conflicted Doomer

  2. Pingback: Water, Water, Everywhere | The Conflicted Doomer

  3. Ned says:

    Thanx for the info. BTW, if a 5 gallon bucket of water weighs 40 pounds, a 55 gallon barrel weighs upwards of 450 pounds, not just “over 200 pounds.”

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