Finding water in the city when the SHTF
We all know how important water is so I’ll spare you the rule of threes speech. But I will say that we might find ourselves working harder in a grid down event or post collapse situation causing us to drink more water than normal because we won’t have access to all these convinces we have today.
Hopefully we all have some amount of water stored and are prepared for this situation, but the amount of space that water takes up makes it very difficult to hide, and the amount of water we use means that at some point or another that water will be gone.
If all the water we have stored is gone because we used it, or someone has come and taken it from us, what would we do at this point? Finding water in the city when the SHTF will be difficult, but if we can stay away from the “zombie zones” and think about places other people might not think about, we might be able to find some drinking water in an urban area safely.
Disclaimer: Because our water is treated we have not built up the immunity to microorganisms like our ancestors did, this can be done, but usually not without a bout of sickness once or twice.
Use your own judgment on water sources but just know that giardia and cryptosporidium can cause serious illness. We can build up an immunity to certain levels of these bacteria but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
This article is not a recommendation of any technique, it’s just meant to give you some ideas, use at your own risk!
Where we live we have a well, but what do we do if the grid goes down? My solution to this is installing a manual pump. We haven’t gotten around to this yet but it is on the top of my list. An option we are seriously thinking about is the Earth Straw Hand Well Pump.
Todd from Prepper Website has done a detailed video about installing one of these that you can have a look at here. You can also save 5% by going through the link below the video.
Our well is between 50 and 100 feet deep so it will cost about $600 to install this, but when you think about the advantage of having all the water we need, $600 is a drop in the bucket.
Not all of us have access to a well, so let’s think about some ideas where we could find water and still maintain our safety by staying away from the zombies and the trained monkeys all heading to the grocery stores.
Zig when everyone else zags
Some of these will require us to travel out and find water, and some of these can be found right in our back yard. The key to this is to go to places other people will not think about, giving you a better chance of getting in and out safely.
Most people will not take the time to learn about this, let alone think about it when they are dying of thirst and hungry.
This list was put together with the help of our Apoco-List Facebook group. With the wealth of knowledge the members have, that group has become (in my opinion) the best preparedness group on Facebook…Thanks everyone!
This is a private group, but if you would like to join just send me an email from our about page.
Water heaters and pipes
Water heater store 30 to 80 gallons of water depending on the size of the home. Some businesses will have even bigger (commercial) water heaters for you to tap into. Another bonus is that this water has already been treated and is probably safe to drink.
There will also be water in the pipes that run through walls, you might have to do a little demolition to get to this, but desperate times call for desperate measures right?
If you have some warning you can also fill your bath tub giving you an extra 40 gallons or so. Unfortunately this is something most people will not think about, and something that can be done in just minutes.
If the water in your home runs out, think about places that might be abandoned, every business and home these days has running water, and there for a water heater.
Garden hoses and sprinklers
The residual water that you can find in a garden hose won’t be 50 or 100 gallons, but it could get you through the day.
Sprinkler systems can be found in parks as well as personal residences, although tearing up your neighbors front yard might lead to more issues than finding water.
Thomas from the Facebook group also mentioned that Sprinkler pipes build up bacteria, sometimes legionaries. Also if the piping is black iron it will contaminate the water with oil from its original manufacturing. Drinking legionaries is probably safe, just don’t get it in your lungs.
Older toilets hold 5 to 6 gallons of water, new toilets us only 1.6 gallons. New EPA requirements are 1.6 gallons for water conservation, but if you can find (or have) one of these older toilets you have 5 days’ worth of water.
Keep in mind I am talking about the tank, not the bowl. Either way I would still boil the water. Anytime a plunger is used on the toilet it can push feces contaminated water backwards into the tank. The CDC states that water in the toilet tank is safe to drink, but I’m not taking any chances.
If push came to shove I would boil and drink water from a toilet bowl, it might sound gross, but I would rather be alive.
Golf courses and parks
Think about areas around you that have ponds or fountains. Golf courses and parks are places that might have streams running through them and other water sources.
Be careful with these though because parks and golf courses are usually manicured to look pretty meaning that there could be pesticides and chemicals in the water, and filtering water will not take out chemicals.
Using a solar still, or finding another way to distilling this water might be necessary. But again, in a worst case scenario, being sick and alive is better than being dead.
Many people have swimming pools, they could be small above ground pools or larger swimming pools in the ground. We don’t have many here, but in places like California I’m sure they are everywhere.
In a SHTF scenario you might want to be looking for pools that have been left untreated for a while. The sunlight burns out the pool chemicals in a hurry and leaves it just water. You would still want to filter and boil the water.
Personally, I would drink water out of a toilet before I would drink water from a public pool…Boiled and filtered of course.
In a SHTF scenario local businesses and offices could become abandoned. People will most likely overlook these places because they will see them as unnecessary, and we see them as a resource.
Office building will have refrigerators, storage closets and vending machines that you can take advantage of. Not only can you find soda and water, you might find a few snack’s to munch on and some coffee to take back home with you.
Seriously though, businesses could turn out to be a good place for supplies other than just water. Look around your office or place of work and see what you might be able to use.
Rivers and streams
When thinking about rivers and streams that run through a city you need to think about where that water came from. There might not be anything around you that could contaminate that water, but just a few miles upstream there could be factories or other factors that could contaminate that water.
Again, filtering will not remove chemicals so you will need to figure out a way to distill this water. Distilling might take longer, but you still need to protect yourself…even if that means from yourself.
Rooftops – anywhere water collects
Depending on how much it rains or snows in your area finding places where this water collects could become a good alternative water source. Any place that water collects without being disturbed could be a good water source in the city or urban area.
Places like flat rooftops where water will pool after snow fall or rain could be a good water source that other people would not even think about.
All buildings have a way for this water to run off and enter the sewers, if you could find the path this water travels and collect it or trap it before it made it down into the sewers you could have a water source that is stored in these gutters that no one else even knows about.
I haven’t cleaned my gutters in two years, so in a pinch I’m sure I could collect some rain water from them. We are not legally allowed to collect rain water here in Colorado, but in a SHTF situation I would, without a doubt, be collecting this rain water.
The zoo and theme parks
Places like the zoo, pet stores, theme parks or any place that needs to have a lot of water available could be a good place to look for water. I’m not saying jump into a bear enclosure and get water from their pond, but that water has to come from somewhere.
Theme parks and water parks might be a good option as well. People will not be thinking about going down a waterslide when the SHTF so these might be a good place to find water and avoid the chaos at Walmart.
I’m not so sure I would be going inside a mall during a SHTF event, but there are stores all over the city that are in industrial areas or separated from large structures.
When and if these places get looted the shelves will be empty, but looking in places like storage rooms and employee areas could lead you to some hidden treasures.
Find 5 areas around you
Try to think about 5 places that are within 5 miles of your home or work that you could use as a water source. Think about places that other people wouldn’t give a second thought.
Think about where water would collect in your area, on roof tops, gutters and other places that could be an emergency water source.
Most people will be panicking and looking to Uncle Sam for guidance in times like these and this gives us an upper hand. And I hate to say it, but these same people that have no clue about water safety might just drink contaminated water because they have no idea about what is in that water…and we all know what happens then.