Monday, December 10, 2012

Public Water Outage

I have written before about the frequent electrical outages here, and how my experience in living offgrid help me to deal with them. Today we have something new: no public water. Turn on the tap and nothing happens. It has been that way since sometime after midnight. No one seems to know why, either. The water utility spokesman says it is widespread and that they are searching for the break. If I were to drive to Walmart, I would probably find no bottled or jugged water on the shelves. Fortunately, I don't have to.
I don't have a lot of water on hand, but I do have some; about 100 gallons is my best estimate. Also, it is raining. I have all kinds of buckets under the gutters to catch rainwater. That water can be used as-is to flush the toilet (just pour it directly into the bowl to flush) and in cooking, as long as the water comes to a boil at least briefly. It can also be made potable by adding a few drops of bleach per gallon. The CDC says this: "Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of (clear) water, stir it well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers."
This is an example of why it doesn't take a terrorist attack or wide scale event to create major problems for a segment of the population. It is also an example of why it is up to you to prepare for things like this, because you really never know what you will wake to on any given morning. I am certain that there are some people who do not even have any way of catching some rainwater, nor the means to purify it if they did catch it. Since all their neighbors are in a similar predicament, what will they do? Even worse is if there is a structural fire. The fire hydrants won't work either. I have no doubt that the fire department is taking steps to ensure that they have water on hand, but their efficiency in dealing with a major fire is certainly reduced.
How well are you prepared for a potential water outage?
Here is an affordable filter and storage combo for drinking water. Kinda' like the Berkey, without the high price tag: Here are some more options for water storage:


Nan said...

Living where we do, we're in fairly good shape when it comes to water. We always keep a few gallons on hand in case the power is out long enough to cause a problem. For a prolonged power outage, we'd set up a hand pump on our well.

The people who would be really in trouble if the water goes out for any length of time are people in the cities. While we were living in Atlanta, there was a bad storm that knocked out one of the pumping stations for the water system. People in cities are used to just turning on a tap and not having to think about it at all. The water wasn't off very long, but considering what bad shape the water system is in there, it easily could have been.

Tracy said...

This outage was caused by a break in the water line. It was the first time we have ever had a disruption in the water service here, and it lasted about 24 hours.
There used to be a well here, but the county health department condemned all the wells in our immediate area and ordered them capped, coincidentally just when public water became available here. This happened before we moved here.
A well is not absolutely necessary here, because it rains enough that water catchment is limited only by my capacity to store the water.

Nan said...

The local township here is working on a zoning plan specific to the township. One of the things the planning committee wants included in the document is a requirement that every property with a residence, including seasonal places (like hunting camps) would have a drilled well and a health department approved septic system. Oddly enough (she said sarcastically) the chairman of the planning committee owns a well drilling business.