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What to do when Water Goes Bad

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

So what would you do, and are you prepared? When the water gos bad or just stops flowing from the tap.


Jackson, Mississippi, is in a devastating water situation (September 2022), and one though temporary, will last for weeks or months and 150,000 plus people are without fresh potable water because of rain, flooding, and infrastructur failure. So what happens when your municipality falls short, and you get the emergency message you must boil all water or only use bottled water or worse the water just stops coming from the tap? Or look at Flint, Michigan, which is still trying to recover from lead contamination.

Let's say something happens to your municipal water supply. What will you do? There's bottled water that will be gone before you can get to the store, most likely, and eventually, the government in some form may come and bring more, but that will be limited not only in availability but for how long they will provide it. How will you provide for yourself and your family? Let's look at some options.


Let's think about how much water we need just to stay alive, not clean, just hydrated. At a minimum of one gallon per person per day for average activity, and if you are working hard like you may be during and emergency, triple that, Don’t forget your pets on average; a large breed dog needs almost as much as the average adult. We are just saying staying alive, not bathing, cleaning, etc.


Now, let's say you see it coming, whatever is about to cause this shortage. You go to the store and buy what water you can be ir the five Gallon cooler jugs or cases of small bottled water, Next, you fill every container in your house, every tea jug, large pot, and even buckets in the garage (these will be great for the pets and hygiene) Now go fill all your tubs and all but the kitchen sink then you have water for maybe a week. You use the open, uncovered sources first, sinks, tubs, buckets, etc., then you go down to bottled water and the like. Maybe the government can get more resources to you in this time frame, maybe not. But we want to be good, responsible citizens and self-reliant now what? Time to get real.


You can collect rainwater if the cause isnt a drought. Use your home. Your roof is an amazing rain collection device. A roughly 1000 square foot roof with 1 inch of rainfall can collect approximately 600 gallons of rainwater, this water will need to be filtered but is generally safe to drink after that, but you can always treat or boil to be safe. More on this later. Be a planner and build an inexpensive rainwater catch barrel system. I built mine for about $200 it holds about 500 gallons, and we use it for the garden, etc, year-round, but it is also a great oh no backup.

Example not my actual system.

You can use a large tarp to collect rainwater.

Use this formula to calculate what your yield may be.

A = Length of the roof area

B = Width of the roof area

C= The amount of rainfall in inches

The formula is A x B x C = Water Volume

The nice thing about tarp systems is the flexibility. They are easy to set up and take down to store you can have one large or several small ones, you can catch them in buckets or barrels or just about any container you have, and the setup can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. There are even companies that make collapsible large water bladders you can buy on amazon that you can store and use as needed or fill if you see something brewing on the horizon.


This is a big one we have to stay healthy and safe when service is returned, you will most likely have to filter and sanitize and purify water for a while, and while it is out and you are collecting, you will want to do the same.

Filtration is different from purifying. Filtering only gets the big stuff out the dirt, grime leaves, the grit from your roof if you are collecting that way, or the rocks and debris if you have set up a portable pump and are collecting from a stream or the like (this is the last resort effort and we will have an article on this in the future)

Purification gets out the bad stuff that makes us sick. All the bugs and microorganisms can cause us to become seriously ill.

Filters are all over. You can get ones that fit on your sink or garden hose, and the ones designed for RVs are great. You can even build your own with a small plug-in pump with bits from Lowes and Harbor Freight or the like (again, another article, another time to come) I have done this and even included a UV light in the setup.

You can use purification tablets, or you can even use bleach. I suggest using visiting the CDC website for water filtration and purification details and processes.

This may say backcountry but guess what it works at home when things go sideways too.

But there is the tried and true way to Filter and Boil. Bring water to a roaring boil for 5 min and let cool and put in clean containers, Clean containers often to keep them safe, and you are set.

The most important takeaways are this Plan ahead, be ready for what might happen don’t just react to what is happening. Think about yourself and your entire family. Pay attention to the weather and the news of pending storms or forecasts and if this goes back, stay calm. Remember, you are ready and can handle this.

For more information, feel free to contact me at or visit our website and sign up for one of our preparedness courses!

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