If you aren’t already storing and conserving water, it is absolutely your top preparedness priority as our country suffers from the drought that has now reached epic proportions. Forget, for now, about the beans and rice – how are you going to cook them without any water?
From a survival aspect, you absolutely must focus on a long-term source of water. All of your best-laid plans will be for naught if you don’t have water rights on your property, a collection system for rainfall, and second and third sources to rely on, as well as reliable purification systems. Safe municipal water (although with the inclusion of all the toxic additives ‘safe’ is debatable) could soon be a thing of the past.
It’s beyond dispute that the United States is facing a water crisis. On the West Coast, where much of our produce is raised, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency and ordered statewide restrictions on water use. On the East Coast, the water is plentiful but is polluted by chemical spills, as seen in West Virginia and radioactive leaks, as seen in South Carolina. In Detroit, thousands of people who couldn’t afford to pay their bills no longer have running water in their homes.
Three years ago, Michael Snyder wrote about the endless drought of 2012, calling it the largest natural disaster in American history. He predicted a water shortage that will change the lives of every person on the planet.
It’s certainly beginning to look like he was right.
How much water are you using?
One thing that people don’t always stop to consider is exactly how much water they use each day. Everyone in the preparedness realm knows the adage about 1 gallon per person per day, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t include the vast amount of water we customarily use for hygiene purposes. This video shows how easily the average American goes through at least 100 gallons of water per day.
Clearly, in an off-grid scenario, many of the activities in that video won’t be possible. But what if it is a slightly different situation – perhaps your water supply is rationed and limited by the public utility companies? (That’s actually happening right now in a small town in California – households are beings strictly limited to 50 gallons per person, per day.) Regardless of restrictions, you’re still going to want clean clothes, clean dishes, and a clean body. You’ll want to be able to flush your toilet without using half of your day’s “ration” of water.
Tips for conserving water
Here are a few suggestions for reducing the amount of water you use on a daily basis. These and many more can be found in my new book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide. The list is by no means comprehensive, and not all of these solutions will work for everyone’s situation.
First, take notes from those who live without running water. Just think: If you had to physically acquire every drop of water used in your home, whether by pumping it by hand from a well or lugging it from a water source, you’d already be taking many of these lower-tech steps.
- Reuse cooking water – if you have boiled pasta or vegetables, use this water for making soup. You will have retained some of the nutrients and flavor from the first thing you cooked in the water.
- Landscape with plants that grow naturally in your area. They should require little in the way of additional watering. Your county extension office can often help with this. You can also take a hike and find many lovely plants that thrive whatever you climate happens to be.
- Grow organic. Chemical fertilizers can increase a plant’s need for water. (This book has some amazing tips for organic drought gardening.)
- Wash some clothing by hand – it will use far less water than your washing machine. Be sure and save the water for other uses.
- When shaving, rinse your razor in a cup instead of under running water.
- Skip the dishwasher and do the dishes by hand.
- Instead of running water over each dish to rinse, fill one side of the sink or a basin with rinse water containing a splash of white vinegar. Running water uses up to 4 gallons per minute. If you use a basin, you can use your rinse water for other purposes.
- Use a glass of water to brush your teeth instead of running the tap the entire time.
- Use an organic mulch in your garden to help retain moisture.
- Wash produce in a basin of water instead of under running water.
- When you clean out your fish tank, reserve the water for your garden. Your veggies will love the nutrient boost!
- Harvest rainwater for your garden. (In some places, where the government believes they own the water falling from the sky, subtlety may be in order.) This one looks like an attractive planter that can be discreetly placed at the downspouts of your house.
These next options assume that running water is not an issue, but that you still wish to conserve.
- Add an inexpensive displacement bag to fill space in the back of the toilet tank. This reduces the amount of water used in each flush. You can also use a brick, but I like that the bags are more flexible.
- Speaking of flushing, you may have heard the rhyme, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”
- Devise a gray water catchment system for your shower, your washing machine, and your kitchen. This water can be used for flushing, watering plants, and for cleaning. Do keep in mind that some counties do not allow gray water to be reused, even in the midst of an epic drought. Do what you will with this information.
- Take shorter showers – try to reduce them to 5 minutes – this can save up to 1000 gallons per month! If you can’t handle a 5-minute shower, every 2 minutes you shorten your shower time by can save approximately 150-200 gallons per month.
- Install a water-saving shower head.
- When you have a shower, plug the tub. Use the water you collect for handwashing laundry or for watering plants. If you aren’t absolutely filthy when you get in the shower, this shouldn’t be a problem.
- If you do use a dishwasher, run it only when it’s completely full – this can save you 1000 gallons per month.
- If you drop a tray of ice cubes, pop them into a pet dish or into your potted plants.
- When washing your hands, dip them in a basin of water, lather up, then rinse under running water. Running water uses up to 4 gallons per minute.
- Upgrade your faucets with inexpensive (and very simple to install) aerators with flow restrictors.
- Use a nozzle on your hose so that you are only putting water where you want it, not spraying it uselessly as you walk to the garden.
- Repair leaks. At the rate of one drip per second, that adds up to 5 gallons per day…literally down the drain.
- If you are buying new items for your home, opt for those which use water more efficiently, like front-loading washing machines and low flush toilets.
This is not about compliance
I dislike rules, limitations on natural resources, and mandatory restrictions as much as the next person, but this is not about complying to government-issued mandates. It’s not about bowing to the restrictions of Agenda 21. This is about adapting to survive in a world where resources may one day not be as readily available as they are today.
What methods do you use to conserve water? Have you considered how to make limited water meet all of your needs if the current crisis continues?