Getting started – Part 5 Water by Ludvick

So here we are going to start to diversify into Guy’s preparedness and start to look at individual topics with a little more detail. The information here is the start; you need to research the rest for better details.

Guy when he tried to research this subject suffered from brain overload and melt down. I shall try to split it down for you from water as a whole.

Water as a topic is very easy. It’s two chemical items mixed together and we are a bag of skin with 70% water inside it. That’s all you need to know!!

Where it gets confusing is the fact we use so much of it.

Drinking water, washing water, flushing water, medical water. Car and house water, sea water and so on. Loads of things need water and so do we. Some of them, however, we can live without – like cholera for instance.

As people who prepare what we need to do is to look at three separate water items. Clean drinking water. Dirty water for everything else and getting rid of water we don’t want.

Now some of the details to follow are not very technical so sorry Guy, your brain overload is not quite over, but we will see what we can do about it.

Clean water

· What is clean water

· How to clean water

· How to store water

· How much do we really need

Dirty water

· What it is

· Where it’s from

· And where to get rid of it

Unwanted water

So now we have a few items to follow let’s start at the basics.

We in the UK are extremely lucky and one of the few countries of the world where tap water is safe to drink. We have never had to worry about clean water and, apart from the odd hose pipe ban in the summer and odd burst water main, we are pretty well water-secure.

In the UK most of our water is collected from rain water holding reservoirs and then filtered and treated and pumped into the mains or it comes from underground water sources. Apart from paying the water bill once a year that’s it. There are some locations where people have stayed on their own well or spring water systems and are self reliant on their supplies but we will talk about that later on.

We can also go to many shops and buy it very cheaply on average; 5litres for a £1 unless you want fancy water which is more.

So the average family will use around 500 litres of water a day; showers, baths, drinking, toilet flushing and so on. What we need to do is to split this amount first to what we need and what we need cleaned. An average person uses 7 litres a day for drinking and face /hand washing and cooking the other 143 litres a day allowance is for showers and toilets. That’s a lot of pure drinking water wastage. We need to be looking at producing 7 litres a day for each family person per day every day; for Guy’s family of four that’s 28 litres. We can either do this in one hit once a week or a small amount every day. To find a small pump that filters 2 litres an hour is very cheap so I suggest Guy looks down that route rather than 1,000 litres once a week in several hours.

We now need to see how to clean the water.

First off how clean is clean?

Start with normal rain water. Well, after it’s washed the entire bird poop off the roof, cleaned the gutters and fallen through all the pollution in the sky into our rain water tank full of bird-dirty water, drinking from water butts is not that safe.

We need to filter all the solids out first and after that we need to filter out all the nasties left behind.

Solids are out once we get a filter that is marked at 15 to 5 microns. Now that’s microns of a millimetre so we are talking here way past our eye skills and into tiny, tiny things.

At 5 microns we are taking every thing out apart from the bacteria and virus and stomach turning over nasties and heavy metals and chemicals. To get from 5 to 0.1 micron pretty well removes every thing else but at a very high cost. What we want to do is set up a small solar powered pump and a 5 micron filter with a coarse 12 micron filter as well to catch the worst. Then we only filter or treat the last little bit when we really need it. 5 micron water used for cooking is fine because we are going to boil it for more than 15 mins so it will kill pretty well every thing. But I suggest we don’t drink it cold unless treated. To remove heavy metals and chemicals is some thing I won’t touch on here; you need to research that yourself.

We don’t have to use filters; we can also use chemicals as well if we want to. There are loads about to choose from. They are easy and simple to use and don’t leave too much of a bad taste behind either.

Now we need to look at storing it all.

It’s easier to store uncleaned rain water in bulk than hundreds of small clean water bottles but, saying that, small bottles are easier to carry and to move. One barrel of water weighs 200kg+.

So wherever we site the barrel, that’s where it stays. The same has to be noted for where you store it as most floors will struggle, if they are timber, to hold 200kg on a site 600mm by 600mm; concrete is ok though. We have to think about getting the water out as well. A small hand pump or pipes and taps.

Also what we store it in can make a difference as well. Some plastics are better suited than others to hold water for long term use. So you need to look for food grade plastics rather than any old thing. We will also need to sterilise it first as well.

Lastly with all this water we need to understand what we want to use it for.

You want 5 litres to drink and a couple of litres to cook with and a couple of litres to clean with. In a bad situation you do not want to worry about taking baths or showers. You can use wet wipes instead for hand washing.

Every thing else is just wasting water; composting toilets and bucket showers work just as well.

Dirty water, now.

Dirty water is basically untreated water that is not safe to drink without treatment.

This can be rain water, used shower water, salt water and so on.

We have all ready spoken about rain water collecting bird poo on the way to our tank; we could add a small sand filter into the system to knock out the worst before it hits our water storage tank.

We can use rain water or used shower water to flush the toilets; we can also use it to water our growing crops of food too. Sea water we can’t drink but we can easily remove the salt. We use the salt for cooking and use the water to drink. It does not matter if we use salt water to flush the toilet with at all.

Used toilet water on the other hand we really don’t want any thing to do with. It needs to be disposed of down the drains and to stay there as it carries most of the very bad diseases. This is where we get issues with flood waters. When the streets flood, it also means that the drains and sewers flood too; all the dirty water mixes up and every thing is out there for people to walk in and through and it also spreads into your house.

So just don’t think the street is full of rain water it’s full of everyone’s poo as well. To deal with it, we have a couple of suggestions; composting toilets are good in an emergency. We could use bags inside of buckets and store it until we can empty it down the drains again. We could hang our backsides out the windows to go to the loo but it’s a bit breezy in winter time. If the drains work but we don’t have any water we can use the toilet and flush after number twos only. Don’t just dig a hole in the back garden as it then causes issues with pollution of the ground waters and the garden soils too. The same rules apply with throwing it into the river.

So let’s look at Guy’s set up and work with it.

We have 100 litres of shop bought drinking water in the house in 5 litre bottles and we have 2,000 litres in the garden water butts, when they’re full. We have a hand powered water filter system bought from the internet and a spare cartridge.

So there is a good start; we need to tweak the systems now.

For the rain water we need to add a filter to prevent as much dirt getting to the water ibc tanks. A slow sand filter will do the job or we can use an old piece of carpet to do the same to keep the dirt and leaves out. We also want to seal the top so nothing can fall in to it. This gives us a reasonable storage of water and the rain will top them up as we go along, hopefully.

What we could do with now is looking at the clean drinking or potable water. We could do with stocking some cleaning fluids so we can clean our bottles; we can also do with some bottle brushes to. After that we need to find a water pump that does 28 litres a day. Solar powered is ok but it does mean you only have 6 hours to do the filtering. Battery back ups allow a 24 hour use which is easier to manage. Also we have to look at how filtered we want it when it’s finished, 5 microns or 0.1 microns?

We also can store some water purification tablets and liquids too just in case.

We want to store some water in the car to drink, in the shed (just in case) and on the bicycle as well.

Article authored by Ludvick