Procuring Water When Utilities Are Shut Off

procure water

 If you’ve been prepping for more than…well…a few hours, you probably understand the importance of stockpiling a source of purified water. Public utilities are fragile to say the least, and anything from inclement weather to a SHTF scenario could cause disruptions in public water.


Unfortunately, water is also one of the hardest things to prep for a long-term scenario. It is the heaviest and most frequent prep item you will ever use.


Sure, it’s pretty easy to fill up a bunch of plastic containers with water and shove them in the back of a closet, but if you’re prepping for a long-term grid-down scenario, you’d need an entire extra room just to house all your stored water!

At some point, it becomes unrealistic to continue stockpiling water. There’s just not enough room in most homes to accommodate more than a month of water. Even then a month of stored water for just 2 people takes up a huge amount of space. At some point you will need to stop stockpiling water and will have to start looking into other ways to procure and purify water for a long-term solution


In today’s post we’ll identify numerous sources of water that you may have to use when the stockpiles run out and how to purify that water so that it is safe to drink.


Rain water


Rain water and snow are the easiest forms of natural water to collect. Unfortunately they are also the most unreliable since they are completely dependent on the weather. Snow also obviously requires you to melt it in order to be drinkable. On the plus side, if this water can be collected before it hits the ground; there is absolutely no need to purify it.


If we were ever faced with a long-term, grid-down scenario the very first thing you should do is set up a rain catchment system. This system will work for you to collect fresh water without you putting in any extra effort. Depending on your climate, it wont be enough to live on full-time, but it will go a very long way to getting you the water you need to survive day to day.


GrowNYC.org has an awesome free ebook that you can download that is filled with useful tips, tricks and several plans on how to create numerous rainwater collection systems. For the cost of a couple plastic tanks, hoses and wood, you could be well on your way to being completely self-sustainable for water.


Other sources of water


Ponds, streams, lakes and even oceans are all sources of water that we might one day have to use just to survive. Despite all the fear stories the government likes to use to increase utility rates, most areas of the U.S. have plenty of available water. The problem is that this water requires filtration in order to be safe for drinking.


Here are 5 ways you can use to purify water for drinking in a grid-down scenario


Straining – Straining is the easiest, but the least effective form of water purification. All you have to do is use a basic screen or even a piece of cloth that you run the water through to catch all the particulates in the water. This method is effective for catching any solids that are in your water, however it does nothing to actually disinfect the water itself. Water-borne pathogens are extremely small and won’t be caught by a simply straining, however if this is the only purification method you have, it is definitely better than nothing.


Distilling – Distillation is one of the most effective forms of water purification. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most time consuming and difficult ways as well. Distillation is essentially just boiling water, collecting the steam from the boiling water into a tube, cooling that tube so that the steam turns back into water and then collecting that water in another vessel.


Here is a great video that breaks down the entire process of distilling water step by step.


Boiling – Boiling is the most basic form of water purification. The tried and true advice is to get the water to a rolling boil and let it boil for 5 minutes before cooling it and drinking it. This is the safest way to go about boiling water for drinking, however I believe this rule was set with extremely contaminated water in mind. I’ve drank water that was brought just to the point of boiling before drinking it and was just fine. However, if you’re in the middle of the Amazon rain forest and drinking out of streams or lakes, you’ll probably want to go the full 5 minutes!


Bleach – Chlorinated bleach is an excellent way to purify water. Below is a useful chart you can use to determine how much bleach you need to add to your water before it is safe to drink. You will need to let the bleach stand in the water for at least 60 minutes before drinking to ensure it has killed all the pathogens. The downside to using bleach as a purifying method is that chlorinated bleach only has a shelf life of about 12 months. After that, it does lose a lot of its potency and it can be hard to tell how much you need to use to actually purify your water.



Iodine – Iodine, (like bleach) is also a very effective way to purify water without boiling or other purification methods. Ideally you want to use iodine that is 2% iodine and around 47% alcohol (this is the most commonly found concentration). Simply add 8 drops of iodine to every 1 liter of water. Wait 10 minutes for the iodine to kill off any pathogens and then you are good to go.


Do you know of other ways to purify water? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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  1. Elise

    This is a great summary, nice work!

    I’d be so hesitant to drink water that’s only been strained… I’ve not got the best immune system and I’m guessing I’d get immediately sick if I drank water in that state.

    1. Ready4ItAll

      Thanks Elise, yeah id be pretty terrified of drinking water that’s only been strained. If that’s all you have though that’s all you have. Although probably not by much, it is better than nothing.

  2. Jack

    Don’t forget fire hydrants. Get a wrench made specifically for hydrants (Google it). There will still be water in the hydrants after the houses go dry, lower elevation vs. the houses. Find the lowest spot in the neighborhood with a hydrant , open the hydrant, and in most cases there will be water. Might be rusty at first so filter it.

  3. David

    I have 3 55 gallon barrels to collect rain water or runoff from my roof, you can strain if necessary
    Also a berky water filter for purification, works great. Have tested it and it’s not a bad way to save and have drinkable water. Of course in the winter here in the midwest you will need to move your barrels inside into a warmer area if you choose to store water over the winter months
    Will probably get a fourth barrel, found some nice clean barrels for $25.00 each, so now I will be able to store over 200 gallons of water, not perfect but better than nothing. Also works great in the summer months for watering plants or the garden

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