How to become Water Self Sufficient for Survival Preparedness

January 27, 2012


enjoy pure clean waterThe following article has been contributed by Lucas Patriotus, a special services veteran with years of survival training. It has been published with permission of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of

Water Is Life

I don’t need to tell you why your family needs safe potable water as well as long term food storage, first aid kits, and other survival gear to survive the aftermath of an emergency or disaster.

People can live for days or even weeks without food but no one survives past 4 or 5 days without water.  Living on very short rations an “average” person can survive on a minimum of one gallon of water for replacement of normal activities loss, per day.  At that drastically minimal rate a family of four will require 120 gallons of potable water to survive for 30 days.

“…Drinking, sanitation and hygiene constitute the basic human survival needs for water. These minimum needs total about 50 liters (13.2 gallons) per person per day. In comparison, the average American uses well over ten times that amount… (1)

Including drinking, sanitation and hygiene that same family of four would require 1560 gallons of potable water to survive for 30 days.  Storing 120 gallons of water to meet subsistence-level needs is easily done, if that’s how you visualize your family surviving.  Storing 1560 gallons, while making your family’s survival experience more pleasant, is problematic if you do not have the ability to replenish your water supply while off of the National Electric Power Grid.

Water Availability is not Guaranteed

What if one day after an emergency or disaster you turn on the tap and either nothing comes out, or what comes out is unsafe to drink?  Water distribution systems require energy and what comes out of your faucet is there because the fragile and vulnerable Grid energized a pump.

The National Electric Power Grid is obsolescent and vulnerable to blackouts due to equipment failure, unintentional human error or recently and most frighteningly, malicious foreign cyber attack.(2)   Water self sufficiency off the grid, and independent of the weather, will ensure that your family has enough water to survive no matter how bad the situation becomes.

 Rain Water Harvesting

The basic component of water self sufficiency is rain water harvesting and storage.  This component requires storage tanks of sufficient capacity with connections to your home’s rain gutter system.  This component is weather dependent but based upon annual rainfall amounts and seasonal rains distribution in your area, rain water harvesting may well satisfy your unpurified water requirements if you plan properly.

harvesting rainwater to make it potableIn most parts of continental USA, with the exception of the Southwest, rainfall is fairly regular, reliable and predictably sufficient to be the primary source for your family’s survival water self sufficiency.  You will have to make a judgment call and decide how much storage capacity you will need to bridge dry spells.

Because we have become so dependent on the grid and the water distribution systems it enables, houses no longer have cisterns to store water for dry spells.  Chances are your home doesn’t have a cistern either, so you will need to acquire water storage capacity.  Water can be stored in almost anything: one gallon water jugs you buy at the supermarket, hard-side metal or plastic tanks, or the much more convenient and less expensive collapsible “pillow” tanks.

We can safely discard the idea of buying, storing and then refilling 1500+ one gallon jugs as impractical.  Hard-side tanks are more practical but are always the same size, full or empty, are difficult to handle, expensive and require permanent installation above ground or below

A much better solution is collapsible “bladder” tanks which are constructed of very tough plastics which meet Food and Drug Administration requirements for potable water storage.  Bladder tanks are relatively inexpensive and can be stored folded within their shipping boxes until you decide to deploy them.

Purifying Stored Rainwater

The water stored in your tanks, while it may appear clear, is not safe to drink.  The rain which fell on your roof and ran down your gutters became contaminated with bird feces, insect waste, decayed organic matter, chemicals and other pollutants.  To make this water safe to drink it must first be treated or preferably purified.

Treatment involves adding proportionately large amounts of chlorine iodine.  This method should be reserved for emergency or occasional use only, because ingestion of too much iodine may be harmful.(3)

The optimum solution is the use of a water purifier which removes sediment and chemicals, kills pathogens and removes pathogenic detritus.  An efficient water purifier would utilize both pre and post-filters and a high-intensity ultraviolet germicidal lamp.  Such a device must be proven to have a bacterial kill rate up to 99.99+% including cysts (Giardia and Cryptosporidium), and microorganisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa.(4)

This water purifier should be operable off the Electric Power Grid and capable of converting water from any available source into potable water.

Now You Need to Become Water Self Sufficient

You have acquired long term bulk food storage, first aid kits, tools, defensive weapons and other survival gear.  Now you need to become water self sufficient or all your other preparations are meaningless and your family will perish.  WATER IS LIFE.

About the Author

Lucas P. Atriotus is a veteran of U. S. Army Infantry, Ranger and Special Forces survival training. He is a defender of the U. S. Constitution, a historian and a philosopher warrior for the Bill of Rights. He has written numerous articles on events which had led to past societal breakdowns, and their correlation to current events and policies which are leading to an inevitable disruption of American civil society.

Additional Resources

For complete survival preparedness planning, and to purchase the best survival gear:  long term bulk food storage and mobility survival kits, SURVIVAL H2O Tanks™, (the bladder tanks referenced in the above article), the SURVIVAL H2O Purifier™, (water purifier referred to above), and the SURVIVAL STOVE™, tools, light and communication gear, firearm and non-firearm weapons and ammo as well as plans, strategies and tactics visit:


(1) Basic survival needs were stressed at the Mar del Plata conference, a major international effort to address world water problems organized by the United Nations… The minimum water requirement for replacement for an “average” person has been estimated to be approximately 3 liters (3.2 quarts) per day, given average temperate climate conditions…

Read more: Survival Needs – human

(2) The Washington Post, “Checkpoint Washington” Blog, 11/18/2011

Read more:

(3) Heath Canada.  Read more:

(4) University of Arizona, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, Tucson, AZ  Copy of report available upon request.

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28 Comments on “How to become Water Self Sufficient for Survival Preparedness”

  1. Silverado Says:

    Living on a small lake and then having an artesion well means I’m water independent and have been even when it wasn’t so….glamorous (or is that trendy?). Even when the power goes out the toilets still work here and you can get a drink of water too. With the recently installed gen-tran panel and the new 8500 watt propane powered stand-by generator, when the power went out during a recent ice storm we also got to do a civilized thing and took showers. Like when we first got TV in this house, thanks to satellite in the mid 1980’s to the first time I heard my cell phone ring here 10 years ago, taking a shower while the powers off represents real off-the-grid progress, at least it does for us. It’s not only something to be proud of, it’s something to be thankful for as that represents real freedom. And it’s one less thing I have to worry about….


  2. Kimmon Says:

    We are a family new to prepping (6 months). The biggest challenge- we live at high elevation in Nevada. It is insanely dry. We live in a suburban area, and are considering burying a 500 Gal . tank for a water reserve. We experience earth quakes so frequently- im worried a tank underground may become a disaster. Any advice from people in arid, high elevation ( ground does freeze in winter), earthquake prone areas??? also considering 250 gal barrels in the garage….strapped into the studs of course.


    • Joe Says:

      Potable water is an incredibly important facet of prepping, especially in arid conditions like the one you call home, Kimmon. And you have an additional challenge of earth quakes, making long term storage of some items much more difficult.

      I don’t have any direct experience with your situation and can only offer general observations.

      I like your idea of storing water in your garage. You’ll want to make sure that the containers are safe for drinking water and it’s not a bad idea to refresh the water periodically. You can use the “old” water for drinking, watering the garden, etc.

      If a disaster strikes, you should also take immediate actions to save even more water – capture the water in your hot water heater, fill bathtubs and sinks, etc.

      Longer term survival in your environment will be difficult so I’d recommend making contingency plans. Where will you go if your home becomes unlivable? How will you get there? Are there supplies there, or will you need to bring them? Etc.

      Hope this helps.



  3. Mark Stamey Says:

    I hope all is well with you.
    I distill my water with a stills I have made from paint cans, whistling tea kettles and five gallon soup pots. They purify and can desalinate anything that is wet.
    Total cost: $0 (or more if you want).
    It requires a way to boil water and condense the steam. Other types require only a way to evaporate water, condense and collect it.
    Any sealable container that will take heat can serve as a “boiler” (A pressure cooker works really well). It is cooled either by exposing it to air or running it through water. I used a fan I connected to a windmill I made from a broken electric fan to be funny, but I also connected the boiler to a tube I ran through another container filled with water. I collect the pure H20 as it drips out of the condensing (cooling) tube.
    I have examined before and after treatment samples with a medical grade microscope. It will make “sweet water” from almost any source.
    Thank you
    Mark Stamey


  4. Peter Koestner Says:

    Water filtration is the process of purifying water in order to remove unwanted solids, microorganisms, gases and chemical substances. The water is passed through a strainer which retains the solids and allows only water to pass through. There are many water filters out there to choose from but when you consider cost, effectiveness, efficiency, and convenience.`

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  17. Tim Says:

    Filters don’t last and need to be replaced in a emergency I would use a cloth to do a prefilter then boil.Maybe I am wrong after all I did say for emergency rain water drinking.If I am wrong please post.



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