Being in sunny Southern California we learn to deal with droughts, especially over the last few years. For some of us out there the idea of not having water near by must seem alien. When I travel outside of the area I always marvel at the "real" streams, rivers and lakes some of us are blessed with. Southern California is basically a desert, even if most of us living here do not understand this.
Where does the water come from to bath, wash cars and simply drink for all of the people in Southern California? The dam in Oroville California has been in the news and I know people this far south have a "Whatever, glad it ain't me living near that thing!" attitude. Well some of us might want to reconsider our attitude. See the dam in the news is part of the system which provides water to Southern California! In fact the city of Los Angeles receives water from four sources and this dam is the start of one of the sources.
Found this cool website for learning about the water system in California.
"In 1960, California voters approved financing for construction of the initial features of the State Water Project (SWP). The project includes some 22 dams and reservoirs, a Delta pumping plant, a 444-mile-long aqueduct that carries water from the Delta through the San Joaquin Valley to southern California. The project begins at Oroville Dam on the Feather River and ends at Lake Perris near Riverside. At the Tehachapi Mountains, giant pumps lift the water from the California Aqueduct some 2,000 feet over the mountains and into southern California."
The other three sources of water for the Los Angles area are The Colorado River, the Owens River and ground water sources. Right now there is a chance the Oroville Dam could have problems which would have a greater effect to the state and not just to the people living under the threat of flooding.
An overview of what the issue is.
Looks kind of cool.
Won't be so cool if this gives way.
Just think if this dam fails...... How would this affect the Los Angeles area and surrounding areas? For sake of argument let's say LA suddenly had to deal with 25% loss of water? How soon would people panic if they turned on the TV and learned they might have to cut down their water usage even more than they are used to? This situation is a really good example of why we need to prepare prior to an event.
If you live in the California area go to the link below and see where your water comes from.
According to this site the water I use every day comes from one sources. Kind of scary to realize if this one method of water delivery fails we have to go without. I also know there are wells here which could be used but the powers that be have decided to rely on the state water...... something I have no control over.
While reading up on this situation and the California water system, I was again reminded how with the exception of one aqueduct the majority of the water being brought into the LA area needs to be pumped over the hills leading into the area. Loss of power would also mean a significant loss of water to the area.
Of course most of us living in Southern California do not have access to rivers, streams or even a creek. We do have lots of dry rain gutters, dry creeks and cement lined rivers which are also dry most the time. This means in the event of an emergency we have no external sources of water. External sources of water would be water gained by another means then through our taps. (stop giggling everyone who lives elsewhere! it is not nice and hurts our feelings) This means we should have a minimum amount of water on hand to deal with situations.
Something like this could be a really good idea........ but, most of us do not live in a home or apartment which would allow for a tank this big. Why? Because all those people who were laughing a minute ago want to live here which makes the property values so high we can not afford the space! (that made me feel a little better) If you are in an area with this kind of space installing something like this is a really good idea. Of course you might not want it right outside the backdoor.
This might be a better idea for most of us. Something which we could install along the side of the house or apartment. Along the side we never use. Plus this gives us a project we could do and do it yourself projects are always fun, once you are done with them. Keep in mind water collected off the roof is not safe to drink and must be filtered. Why? Think of all the bird poop on your roof!!! For some roofs the water might not be safe even after you filter it using most commercial filters. This is due to the chemicals used in the construction of the roof.
For most of us something like this water brick system would work. We all have spaces under sinks or in closets we could use to store these bricks. In fact I personally know of one family who found this worked for them in their condo. Here is a link to the water bricks. You should check amazon or other websites to see about getting them on sale.
If nothing else having a small supply of these in the closet, fridge or under the sink would be better than nothing. Plus these are more portable than the other storage methods.
Maybe you have a pool at the house or there is one in the condo complex? Your thinking "Heck I do not need to worry about any of this. There is hundreds if not thousands of gallons of water right there to use." Yes there is water to use, how often do you drink the water from your pool? Most of us do not just go to the pool and fill a pitcher of water for drinking. The chemicals in the water can make you sick. causing cramps, diarrhea and other symptoms similar to food poisoning.
Living in a condom or apartment complex with a pool you might think you have access to a supply of water just the same as someone who has a pool in their back yard. Only thing is you have a few more problems than they do if an emergency comes up. Not only do you have to deal with the chemicals in the pool you have to deal with all the people in the pool.
Do you really think no one is peeing in the pool? How many babies or others have had an accident in the pool. How many of your neighbors have decided to have "sexy time" in the pool late at night? Yes I am trying to be gross here but there is a point to this. Chlorine only kills so many germs. Would you want to drink someone else's bath water? Hopefully not!
Having a pool or other open source of water near by does not mean you are covered during an emergency. Utilizing these sources of water could add to your issues and we do to want to add any more negatives to our situation. How do you utilize these sources and others safely? We have to clean the water and filter the water to give us the biggest chance we do not get ourselves sick. Anyone who has ever been to Mexico and did not watch where the water came from knows why this is a very important issue.
Now you may think "I'll just boil the water and it will be good." Yes boiling water will kill the germs. The catch is how many people know how to do this? Ok your thinking "What is he saying? Everyone knows how to do this!" I can tell you first hand this is not the case. A fella I know was caught in a typhoon and in the aftermath he became sick from contaminated water! Remember common sense is not that common and not everyone thinks about dealing with emergencies. This issue is extremely important if you live in an area where your body is used to drinking clean water. Your body is not equip to deal with anything other than clean water!! Even cleaning your hands with untreated water can cause you to get sick. The fella I know was not sure if he drank, cleaned with or had food prepared with contaminated water. No he had no idea he would need to boil water or how to do it......
Well where do we start? Planning and part of planning is knowledge. Let's back up for a moment. The beginning of having clean water comes when you decide to gather water. Where you collect the water from will determine how you have to deal with the water. This is where common sense comes in. Do you collect water from a mud puddle or river?
Or maybe here
Do animals pee in the pool?
Our first step is to pick as clean a source of water as we can find. Second step is to start filtering the water. Easiest first step is to use cloth or some other barrier to keep out the big stuff.
I know this seems like common sense but it isn't. The more you filter the better your chances are of having clean water. Filter out the big parts with a piece of cloth, a bandanna, wash cloth or any other thing which will let the water come through will work. Make sure you are filtering the water into a clean container!
Fill a pot with water
Heat water until bubbles are rising from the bottom of the pot
Let the water boil for a minute
Turn off heat and let cool down
If your doing this over an open fire it is going to take longer than you think. have some patience and build a good fire.
Alright, so you are think this is simple. Yes it is! What do you put the water in after you boiling it?
Do you put the clean water back in the pitcher you just used to collect the water? "Well yeah the water is clean now!" NNNOOOOOO!!!! THERE IS STILL UNCLEAN WATER IN THE PITCHER!! Any water not cleaned will contaminate the clean water!!! You have to think about this before you start cleaning the water. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance! This includes the water on your hands and the cloth you used. Do you wash your face with the cloth you used to filter the water?
A first level system we all should invest in is a simple filter you can use almost anywhere. The same rules still apply to these tools. Pick a good source of water, filter the water if you can first, then use these commercial filters.
Both of these systems are portable and easy to use. Even with these simple looking systems the directions say you have to watch out for unclean water contaminating your system. They all say they do not kill all the germs you might be faced with. Again, location of water collection and pre filtering are important.
A good system for anyone having to care for several people is one of these camping filter systems.
Here is a really good system which has tons of real world use behind it. Of course pre filtering the water still applies. Yes, this is an investment but one well worth the price! Especially if you have a group to care for. Filtering the water this way gives you time to handle other issues and not be tied down to boiling water all day. Here is a link to the website
This is getting long so we will try to wrap this up. Yes we could discuss making DIY water filters. Talk about solar stills etc etc BUT let's not go to far into the weeds right now.
When planning for emergencies or dealing with one we need to take water into account. When thinking about water we need to think about where we will collect water from. When collecting water we need to think about how the collection point affects the cleaning method. When thinking about cleaning water we need to think we can not take shortcuts!
Choose the cleanest water you can to draw from.
Pre filter at the point of collection.
Have a dirty area and tools.
Have a cleaning area and tools.
Have a clean area and tools.
Consider using multiple methods to clean your water. (boil then use commercial filter)
As with anything we should plan on having multiple layers to our water planning. Knowledge on how to collect and boil water is step one. Commercial filters inside of our Get Home Bags or 72 Hour Bags is the next step. Large camping filter systems inside of our Bug Out Bag or at the house is another step up. Berkey filter system at the house is as far as some of us need to go. Learning how to build gravity feed filter systems using sand, charcoal and other items might be a bit more than most of use need to know (we will talk about those later).