Interest in water storage is spiking for a couple of high profile groups. The first, is the group of people who are preparing for the end of the world and hoping for the best (better know as preppers) are interested in storing drinking water for long periods of time incase we lose access to clean water supplies. The other group is water conservationist interested in using alternative sources of water for their landscapes and gardens. Below you will find storage tips pertaining to both groups as well as all of you who are interested in clean abundant water.
The FDA tells us bottled water is considered to have an indefinite safety shelf life if it is produced in accordance with CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) and quality standard regulations and is stored in an unopened, properly sealed container. I notice that almost all bottles of water I see have an expiration date; manufacturers publish this date voluntarily. So bottled water is a solution to long-term water storage for drinking in an emergency. If you are drinking bottled water on a daily basis you really need to read this article.
For those of us who have sworn off bottled water it’s important to know most scientists agree tap water has a shelf life of around six months. Zane Satterfield, an engineer scientist with the National Environmental Services Center at West Virginia University, explains, “The chlorine dissipates to the point that bacteria and algae start to grow.” That growth will speed up if you store your water in a warm or sunny spot—or in a glass container that hasn’t been thoroughly washed or sealed, he adds. Keeping water in an open glass will be okay for a few days, but remember each day the water is exposed to the elements is another day it can be introduced to contaminate. You should really keep in mind how often your hands come in contact with the rim of the glass and where those hands have been.
Before heading out to the store to buy bottled water or start filling bottles from your tap you may want to consider how much water you are going to need. After taking the 4 liters challenge last year I learned we need at least one gallon per person per day. If you have a big family that is a lot of water you are going to have to store.
Keeping contaminates out of your stored tap water is your biggest issue. 55 gallon water barrels are an excellent solution. They are made from food grade plastic, BPA free and UV resistant. They aren’t cheap; I have found them as low as $65 each. The have excellent caps you can secure to keep contaminates out. These barrels are an excellent alternative to bottled water, but you should keep them on a 6-month rotation.
Water for landscapes
A few years ago there was a very high profile resort installing water tanks to catch the rain runoff from the parking lot and parking structure. This water was used to water the landscape around the resort. When rain is falling you need very little if any supplemental water so it is usually days before the water in the tanks was used. Quickly there was a detectable odor coming from the tanks, something you did not want at a high profile resort.
The secret here again is keeping contaminates out of your water. Filtering water before it enters your rain barrel is a good idea. There are “first flush” devices you can add before your rain barrel that diverts the first 5 to 10 gallons of water coming off your roof and does not allow it to enter your rain barrel. The water coming off your roof first contains a high percentage of contaminates.
It is important to clean your rain barrel regularly, which means at least at the end of the growing season and when you can during the summer. Also make sure to have a barrier to keep mosquitos out of the water. Your water will last a growing season and in you will mostly have to supplement the rain water with another source of water so long term storage will not be an issue.
Flushing the initial surge of water and using the water within a few weeks solved our problem at the resort and will solve most of your rain barrel landscape problems too. As far as drinking water you are going to have to determine how much of a reserve you need (are your prepping for an three day shortage from and earthquake or the apocalypse) and then make your appropriate choices.
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