Summer Water Shortage


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What I really meant: Summer Water Shortage Storage

Here in California, we’ve had drought conditions for 4 years. Throughout the state, people have cut back about 25% on water usage – sometimes voluntarily, mostly as a result of cost pressure.

But using less water for the landscape doesn’t mean we should drop storing water for an emergency!

So again, I want to promote . . .

The best water storage solution: the 4-item 55-gallon water barrel kit.

The kit has four components. You need all four!

You can buy them separately or all together, at Amazon, Walmart or at Costco or wherever you find the best price. In doing my research today I found that by shopping carefully I could get the same four items for a low of about $100 to a high of about $150.

The image at the left shows a kit with the four items that need to be on your shopping list — the barrel, the bung wrench, the pump and the water preserver. You can click on the kit image — or any of the images below — and go directly to Amazon. But before you go there, learn more about each of the components so you know what you’re looking for.

1 – The 55 gallon water barrel

What you want is a standard blue polyethylene plastic food grade water storage barrel with a sealed top. (I’d want a new one. Even if it’s brand new, give it a good rinse with a diluted chlorine-bleach solution – one part bleach to 10 parts water. Of course, use non-scented bleach that contains no soap.)

What to watch out for:

When it’s full, your barrel will weigh 440 pounds so you won’t be able to move it by hand!  Pick the spot where you want to store it, lay down some boards or pieces of wood to keep it up off the ground or the floor, and set it in place. (Make sure your floor can hold this weight.)

2 – A “Bung wrench” to open the plugs in the top of the barrel

The stopper in a barrel is called a “bung” and you’ll need a special wrench to remove it. You can get a metal or plastic wrench like the red one in the photo to the right. Often, the wrench will be designed for a second function, like being able to turn off gas at your meter. Bung wrenches seem to go missing on a regular basis. You may want to fasten it to your barrel (tape?).

3 – A Pump to get the water out of the barrel

 These water barrels are designed with openings only at the top, so to get the water out you need to insert a pipe down through one of the bung holes and then pump the water up and out. Since this is for emergency use, you need a pump that operates by hand! Be sure your pump is BPA free since your drinking water will be flowing through it.

What to watch out for:

An inexpensive siphon hose can work but may take a lot of effort to get started. Other hand siphon pumps have a hand-operated sliding action and larger tubes, and are more efficient. The image shows the “vertical manual action” of the pump shown in the kit.

Once you get a siphon pump flowing, it will continue to flow until you stop it, so be sure you know how to start AND stop the flow. (Hint – you unscrew the cap at the top to break the vacuum.)

Here’s a great video from Robert Canning that shows just how to install and use a hand siphon pump.

There are also hand pumps with a lever that pump a certain amount with each press of the lever – best if you want to remove just a small amount of water.

4 – Water preserver liquid

We have written before about using 1/8 cup of plain bleach in your barrel full of water to keep the water clean for long-term (i.e. year-long) storage. You can also use a water preserver concentrate that will keep water clean for up to 5 years. Follow the directions on the bottle to get the right amount into your barrel.

And now, the question we overlooked . . .

How to get the water INTO the barrel? Three options.

If you’re like me, I want the barrel tucked out of the way, so it turns out not to be close to a faucet. So how do I fill the barrel?

Naturally, you’ll think about using the garden hose. But wait. That hose has probably been sitting around for who knows how long, getting dirt on it, spraying pesticides or soap, and gradually disintegrating. I wouldn’t want to use it to fill MY barrel!

So what are other options?

One way is to use new bottles of water or simply carry water from the kitchen in a clean container and pour it into the barrel. Works fine, takes many trips!

The other option is to purchase the right length of food grade, white plastic drinking water hose at an RV supply store and run it from the tap.

And finally, store the barrel properly.

Some hints:

  • Label the barrel with the contents and the date you fill it, so you’ll know when it’s time to empty, refresh and refill.
  • Store in a cool dark place, out of sunlight; keep it clean.
  • Camouflage the barrel to prevent someone from stealing your water. Cover it with a tarp or canvas, turn it into a workbench, whatever.

This water can keep you alive in a crisis, so consider this big purchase as a gift to the family for the summer!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

 

P.S. You will likely want to have smaller containers of water, too, so you can store them more easily, move them, pour out just a glass of water, etc. Here are a two more articles from Emergency Plan Guide you may find useful as you consider how to store the water YOU need:

 

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