If electric power becomes intermittent water will be a critical resource. A plan for getting water should be top priority. Such a plan may be impossible in the cities.

#2 priority is water (#1 priority is shelter if weather is cold).  You will live 5-7 days without water, but function effectively for only about 48 to 72 hours without it.  Water is critical when it comes to survival.  more…

Clean water is essential.  One of the single biggest causes of death in areas without medical care, such as third world countries, is diarrhea.  According to the WHO, diarrhea causes 4% of all deaths.  There are nearly 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal disease every year. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old.  It kills over 760,000 children every year.  The worst part is that a significant proportion of diarrheal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation.  In a world without clean water or food refrigeration, our country could quickly degenerate into a situation not unlike third world countries.   more…

Water Storage

If you anticipate an emergency that would interrupt the availability of water the WaterBOB can be useful.  Up to 100 gallons of  clean water for drinking and cooking can be stored in a bathtub with the WaterBOB.  Check out the video.  In central Virginia these are available from East Coast Food Storage for $25.

Food grade water barrels can provide water used for drinking or cooking.  In central Virginia new food grade water barrels are available from East Coast Food Storage for $64.

A concrete cistern can provide a large volume of water.  In my area of central Virginia, Allied Ready Mix in Waynesboro (540-949-8386) can supply water cisterns in a variety of sizes.

A small amount of water can be found in a hot water heater and the toilet tank (not the bowl) if the water supply is interrupted.  Do not use water in the toilet tank if chemicals have been added to keep it clean.

A large volume of water can be stored in this (relatively inexpensive) above ground cistern made from a galvanized road culvert.

Emergency Well Bucket

Those who depend on a well for water should make an emergency well bucket for use during times when electricity is not available.

The PVC pipe diameter should be small enough to pass by the plumbing and electric wires inside the well casing.  If you have an emergency well bucket you will never run out of water.  Operation is simple.  Use a rope to lower the bucket into the well casing until the bucket initially floats, then slowly sinks as the check valve opens allowing water to fill the bucket from the bottom.  When the bucket is lifted the check valve closes keeping the emergency well bucket full.

Here is another homemade well bucket, with how to build instructions.

The distance that water must be lifted is much less than the depth of the well.  Underground streams are under pressure, lifting the water inside the well casing to within a few feet of the surface.  The actual distance will vary depending upon location and possibly season.

Homemade Emergency Well Pump for US$20

A homemade hand pump for retrieving well water has been designed Keith Hendricks. Keith has distributed thousands of copies to folks attending survival expos because he believes we are all in for rocky times and that personal preparedness is our best defense. In an effort to make a contribution, he has made his easy-to-assemble pump available to all who wish it. If you have any further questions, or wish to express personal thanks, Keith can be contacted at patriot@ohio.tds.net

Keith states he built this hand pump in 20 minutes for about US$20. It can be used in water wells that have no existing feed lines, wiring or submersible pumps in place, or in water wells with them in place.  Parts List and Assembly Instruction

Pitcher Pumps

Inexpensive pitcher pumps depend on suction to lift water from awell or other reservoir.  In theory, a pitcher pump with an absolutely tight seal could lift water one atmosphere of pressure, or approximately 33 feet.  Since these pumps are seldom if ever manufactured using the best material or workmanship, it may be reasonable to expect a maximum lift of 16 feet.  Pumps are available from Lehmans.

Sucker Rod Pumps

Another option to get water without electricity is to add a manual pump into the same well casing where the submersible electric pump is located. Manual pumps are available from the Simple Pump Company .  These pumps are sometimes called “sucker rod” pumps and are made from PVC pipe.

The most durable of “sucker rod” pumps are made of cast iron and galvanized steel, and can pump water up from hundreds of feet.   Pumps are available from Lehmans.


Lehman’s solution for Water From A Well – Without Electric Power The Lehman’s well bucket may be too large in diameter to fit in some wells.  One solution is to use a smaller diameter emergency well bucket described on this page.

Water Purification

The LifeStraw is an inexpensive filter weighing only 2 ounces.  It could save your life for only $20.  LifeStraw removes a minimum 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites and filters to an amazing 0.2 microns.  Useful life is approximately 264 gallons.  Video


Swiss made Katadyn water filters can purify dirty creek or lake water making it suitable for drinking and cooking. These filters are available in a variety configurations from outdoor specialty shops and online. Think about how valuable a quality water filter would have been in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.  Consider putting a small portable filter in your car in case disaster strikes and you get caught away from home.

Katadyn Exstream

Katadyn Exstream

Fill the Katadyn Exstream Water Bottle from any fresh water source, squeeze and sip.  Water is made safe to drink as it flows through three purifying stages.  First-stage Filter removes large sediment and disagreeable odors.  The second-stage Cyst Filter traps protozoa in a web of glass-fiber.  The third-stage EPA registered ViruStat Microbial Cartridge disinfects the water from bacteria and viruses with iodinated resin.  This personal hydration system provides complete anti-microbial protection against cysts, bacteria and viruses. It is recommended that the ViruStat Cartridge be changed after 200 refills (26 gallons, depending on water quality). Change the Cyst and Pre/Post Filters when water flow becomes constricted.   Water bottle is $50 and a Exstream Virustat Replacement Kit with all 3 filters is $35.




The Berkey version for $26.  Can be refilled 160 times from dirty water.  Replacement filter elements are available.











Katadyn Pocket filter:


Katadyn Pocket


Exstream Virustat Replacement Kit

The Katadyn Pocket with a silver impregnated ceramic element is effective against bacteria and protozoa and can filter up to 0.2 micron. The Katadyn Pocket water filter is the only water filter with a lifetime year warranty.  Field-cleanable 0.2 micron ceramic depth filter.  Output rate is up to 1 quart/minute.  Cartridge Capacity is up to 13,000-gallons, depending on water quality.  Price range $220 to $270.   Replacement filter for $147.









Katadyn Ceradyn and Gravidyn

Katadyn Ceradyn and Gravidyn


The Gravidyn is a no-pump gravity filter for providing drinking water for families, groups, and camps.  The unit’s three silver impregnated ceramic elements with built-in carbon cores will filter up to 39,000 gallons (13000 per cartridge). Field-cleanable 0.2 micron ceramic depth filters with granular activated carbon filter.   Water container is 2.5 gallons.   Approximately one gallon filtered per hour.  $219.95





*Caution*  There are many reports of the Black Berkey filters coming apart, separating from the base.  Searching the net, it looks like reports of this problem goes back to more than a year ago.  It may be possible to repair the filters with non-toxic glue/sealant intended for use with fish tanks.  Testing for leaks with food coloring is highly recommended.  Replacement filters (not Berkey) are available from Doulton, ProPurUSA and other manufactures.  According to the folks at East Coast Food Storage (Nov 2012), Berkey has now fixed their problem.

Another water filtration option is the Big Berkey water filter  which can filter 4000 to 6000 gallons of water when using 2 filter elements.  The Berkey water filter system removes pathogenic bacteria,  parasites and cysts to non detectable levels, removes harmful or unwanted chemicals to below detectable levels, and reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury without removing the healthful and nutritional minerals that your body needs.  Checkout the Berkey FAQ$250




SteriPEN™ is the only portable water purifier that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy waterborne microbes.  It only takes 60 seconds to purify 32 ounces of water.  Available from Emergency Essentials ($80) and other sources.

Water Storage and Purification guide from Captain Dave

Make your own water filter using two 5 gallon buckets and Berkey elements.

Choosing a water filter by Emergency Essentials.


Water Pasteurization

Many people believe that you have to boil water to make it safe to drink. In fact, if you heat water to 65° C (149° F), all of the germs that can cause disease in humans are killed. It takes much more fuel to boil water than to heat it to 65° C. To learn more about this, see Water Pasteurization Frequently-Asked Questions.  A simple solar water pasteurizer can be made from a soda bottle.  A Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) can be used to measure water temperature to determine when the water is sufficiently hot for pasteurization and safe to drink.  Read more about recent advances in water pasteurization.

Since water pasteurizes at temperatures well below the boiling point of water, WAPIs save time when solar pasteurizing, and save fuel when using traditional fuels.  Or use a solar cooker (solar oven) to pasturize water.

The AquaPak is another water pasteurizer that has the potential to save thousands of lives and significantly reduce illness among rural populations in nations where access to safe drinking water is scarce.

Hydraulic Ram Pump

Irrigation water can be pumped using the energy of a flowing stream.  No other energy source is needed.   At a point in the stream at least two feet (vertical measurement) above the pump, water is diverted into a supply pipe that carries water to the ram pump located downstream.  Only a small portion of the water flowing through the supply pipe is available for delivery.  The greater vertical distance between input and output, the greater will be the height to where water can be pumped.  Ram pumps can be purchased or home made using PVC pipe.

A ram pump served me very well years ago when the submersible pump failed in my well.  The short term fix was to divert water supplied to garden into a 100 gallon tub next to the my back door.  From there it was convenient to fill a bucket to flush the toilet.



Water Heating

5 gallon bucket in an insulated box.

  Link to simple DIY “Bucket” Solar Batch Water Heater.  Add insulation for improved performance.







Deep Fat Fry Turkey Cooker

A propane powered turkey cooker can heat 6 gallons of water (outside) quickly.  In about 6 minutes the water will be hot enough for a shower.  A 12 Volt DC powered Shurflo pump can pump water at sufficient volume and pressure for a good shower.





On demand propane powered hot water heaters have been made by Bosh, Aquastar, Eccotemp and others.  I have used an older Aquastar 125 (purchased by Bosh) 125,000 BTU demand water heater with some success.  Water should be filtered well before being input to the water heater.  My experience showed me that I needed a better filter.

The Eccotemp portable water heater for outdoor use has some great reviews on Amazon.com.  Sometimes on sale for less than $100.

EccoTemp Portable

Solar Water Heating

Solar water heating systems have a good economic payoff, and are manageable systems to install or build as a DIY project.  Some of the solar water heating designs are simple and low cost.  You can save a great deal of money by building your own system — several thousand dollars.  There are dozens of free plans listed here that should meet just about any need.

A simple solar batch hot water system can be created from a recycled hot water heater and recycled patio door glass to provide hot water.  A backup system powered by propane or electricity may be needed.

Solar HW Batch Heater

Harvesting Rainwater – from GeoPathfinder


If your plan includes moving to a small cabin or other shelter without a septic system your plan should include how to properly process greywater from the sink and shower.

Water Use and Water Reuse information from Omick.net