Monday, May 24, 2010

Preparedness 101 - #5

Goodness the comments and questions are coming thick and fast!

Here's another issue that's serious: water.

My husband and I have gone back and forth and back and forth on this issue, because we have a problem. We're in the country, yes. We have a well, yes. Our well is powered by an electric pump, yes. So why not look for a manual alternative to pump the water in the event of a power failure?

We can't, because any mechanical solution is light years beyond our budget. We've looked into solar and wind. Both would cost just short of $20,000 because - drum roll please - our well is 610 feet deep.

This means that well buckets, handpumps, or just about anything else is totally out of the question unless we're prepared to spend a small fortune. We can't afford to buy gold - how the hell are we supposed to afford a windmill?

So we're going to look into a roof-runoff storage system.

Others who have shallower wells could try well buckets (a reader suggested the Lehman's version) or an old-fashioned hand pump.

For those without wells, I'd suggest water purification tablets or at least bleach, as well as a water filter (perhaps ceramic filters or a drip filter). This assumes you can obtain water, of course, however unclean.

Never hurts to have as much potable water stored as you have room for, of course.


  1. Hmmm ... I should think about the rooftop run-off idea. I don't think a hand pump is going to work on my 200-foot well any better than on your 610 footer (wow, that's deep!). The well bucket should be limited only by the length of one's rope, however.

  2. Hello, we live in the country also and on well water. There is a manual pump that will work right alongside your electric pump without pulling it. If you know how many feet it is to static water pressure and a few other questions, the company can tell you how much it will run. Our well is 800 feet deep with static water at 110 feet and a manual pump for us would run around $1600 which we cannot afford at this time. A regular on the 912 preparedness site purchased one quite sometime ago and is very impressed with it. It is called a "Simple Pump"
    Here are the websites:

  3. I'd start squirreling money away for at least an old fashioned windmill. You used to see these all over the west. Yours is so deep,though, I dunno. I'd at least put in a good old fashioned cistern or two. By all means put rain barrels on ALL your buildings. I'm in Colorado where rain is rather scarce, and rain barrels keep my garden watered in all but the very driest years.
    Rain catching is illegal here, by the way. (strange but true) In water rights agreements with California, my runoff belongs to them. Supposedly it would eventually find its way into the Colorado river and they could use it. In reality it soaks into my lawn and makes me have to mow more around the downspouts.

  4. >>Our well is 800 feet deep with static water at 110 feet

    Right, the actual water level is often much closer to the surface than the depth of the well. I was surprised when my parents had to drill 330 feet, but were then told the water level was at 80. But I have since learned this is not unusual.

    I like the Simple Pump ... but ... the well bucket will be in budget sooner!

  5. We have the same problem. Lots of water, hard to get it out of the hole without electricity. We had an electrician put in a cut-off switch and a plug for a generator. Total cost was less than $600 (including generator) It works fine.

  6. roof run off into water barrels...water barrels are awfully expensive these days but they are easy to could probably make at least four to six water barrels for the price of one or two store boughts..also the store boughts are hard to come by. we get plenty of rain here in north east mississippi but still collect rainwater for gardens, pets, carwashing, and can even take a quick shower outside if need be. plus, once you have recouped your cost, the water you collect is free!

  7. Bleach and or tablets are a must, but don't forget boiling if you can. We are pretty fortunate (though I was unsure of this when we were out of water for a week and a half due to mud and sludge build up in our pipes, ugh) to have a spring on the ridge near our house. All the wells around ran dry a summer or so ago but the spring kept right on going. We get our water from gravity fed pipes and a 5000 gallon tank for 6 households. Reasonable water pressure when everything is going smoothly but it takes some maintaining to be sure. What doesn't right? LOL -- The tank is brand new which is excellent because before it was an old shack house type tank built in the 40's. We also have a lake fed creek that runs through our property in case something happens with the spring. Water is covered for us. We also get about 120" plus of rain a year here in coastal western Washington so collecting some water that way is an option for at least 6 months of the year.

    Now if we could just convince the yahoo's that keep saying "I know where to go wtshtf" to start getting their p's and q's in order and stop thinking we can help them. We are not even up to our own standards quite yet. Have about 80 or so rabbits right now (easy to lose track without my notebook in front of me, 12 breeding does and 3 bucks - new babes coming in each week) 2 milking goats with 3 new babies, chickens. And the start of a reasonable garden. Not quite enough space though to grow a years worth of food. Only have about an acre for all of this.

    If we would have known what was coming down the pike back when we bought this house 5 years ago (ugh, a mortgage) we would have tried to get more land. Now it's way too late. But we are doing the best we can and have been building up now over the course of 2 years (in a serious way)

    Believe me, there are days I would love to share as much water as I can come Oct-May!!

  8. Just a few thots. Several years ago we installed a Grundfos SQFlex submersible pump that runs directly off the PV array. No batteries, no battery charge controller, no inverter to have running water without the grid. Think K.I.S.S. when it all hits the fan.
    I used a copy of Grundfos "WINCAPS" software to calculate array and pump data. Did all the installation myself.
    The 3-SQF-3 will pump 1 gpm from 600 feet with 406 PWatt PV array. The pump + CU 200 SQFlex controller + 406 watts of modules should be less than $5000 plus wire, pipe and installation.
    see for some specs
    I purchased my pump here:
    We have a 6" dia well so I installed two pumps in the same well, one directly above the other with two separate riser pipes, 1" and 1 1/4".
    And also a sand filter as the helical pump is very sensitive to abrasive grit. We have this Grundfos SQFlex for garden irrigation (4000+ gal per day) and an off the shelf 120 vac pump that runs off of the inverter for household use.
    Another alternative is to use a soft-start AC pump, such as the Grundfos SQ series AC pumps good to 600 ft depth to static water level. Would need a transformer to run 240vac pump off your 120 vac inverter. The soft-start greatly reduces the pump start current/power requirements greatly, reducing inverter size needed.
    600 ft is max depth on these pumps so one could pump from well into in-ground holding tank using a new concrete septic tank as your reservoir instead of a standard pressure tank (which wouldn't work, 600 ft depth + 50 tank psi = 700 ft head pressure which is beyond the SQF or SQ pump's capability.)
    for pumping from the reservoir one would have many relatively inexpensive choices.

  9. You may want to consider boiling, or chlorine bleach on the water that comes off of the roof. when putting in rain barrels the local info said that it is not potable water due to bird feces. I would not want to get sick during a SHTF situation. -Tim in Seattle

  10. I grew up in Australia on a farm with an 18 inch rainfall. All our drinking water came from rainwater off the roof stored in rainwater tanks. There is no need to treat the water. I grew up drinking the stuff and so does everyone in those parts because there isn't mains water or bore water available. Recent studies performed in Adelaide, Australia on the quality of drinking water from rainwater showed it to be no different than mains water.

  11. When we had 21 acres in the country back in 1998-2002 we had a deep well. I believe it was around 200 feet with a submersible pump towards the bottom. Thing is the water table sat at around 60 feet. Here's what I did...

    I got a check valve. The one I used was about 1.5 inches in diameter and about 4-5 inches long, blue plastic.

    I bought PVC fittings and pipe whose inside diameter perfectly matched the outside diameter of the check valve. Easy enough to figure, just open your check valve at the hardware store (mine came in a simple cardboard box with no wrapping) and find a pipe in which it fits perfectly. I got enough pipe to make sure the shaft I was creating would be below my water table. I also got enough pipe of this diameter to make a T shape at the top of this shaft for the water to come out of and to insert the next shaft into. The T would be aimed sideways.

    Next I bought PVC fittings and pipe whose outside diameter fit the check valve's inside diameter. I got matching lengths of pipe for this shaft as for the first one, and enough extra pipe to make a T shaped handle on the top of this shaft to hold on to. The T would be oriented normally, just like the letter.

    Oh, and I didn't get very thick PVC. I mean this is just for a hand pump so it didn't need to be "heavy duty". I guess use common sense because I can't remember how thick. :(

    So anyway I assembled both shafts with the check valve attached to the bottom of the 2nd one. I cut a hole in my well's pipe (mine was thick PVC) and carefully inserted the 1st shaft down into my well. I then inserted the 2nd shaft down into the 1st shaft.

    It worked like this...

    The check valve on the 2nd shaft was oriented such that when I LOWERED this shaft the valve opened and allowed water to flow through the valve and into the body of the 1st shaft. The weight of the water would then close the valve, preventing the water I had just "captured" from flowing back out of the 1st shaft as I then RAISED the 2nd shaft. When I lowered the 2nd shaft again, the valve opened allowing more water to flow into the 1st shaft, and as I raised the 2nd shaft that water plus the water from the 1st pull was lifted.

    As I repeated the process, moving the 2nd shaft up and down, water basically just piled up inside the 1st shaft until it eventually began to flow out the sideways T on every pull.

    I guess your main concern would be your water table's depth. 60 ft of PVC wasn't that heavy, but if your water table is like 500 ft down...heh. The above might be impractical.

    If you need clarification on what I've written please let me know and I'll draw a picture. :)

    I apologize for the lack of detail. I did this like 10 years ago.

    Take care, and hope it helps!

  12. Wow. I have no idea what we'd do about water, other than hope we've got enough stored up. Our rainfall here is only about six inches a year.

    Robin in Ca

  13. Any thoughts on water solutions for apartment dwellers? We're country folks at heart, but my husband's job (active duty Air Force) requires that we move a lot, so we tend to opt for short-term, city-living housing. I don't know if rainwater is an option, and we definitely don't have access to a well.

  14. don't forget if you have a hot water tank you have access to what is stored in there for immediate drinking water. May only be 30-40 gallons but is better then nothing to drink.


  15. check I don't know if it's usefull but it's worth a check. KY in MO

  16. How about an ecoloblue amptnospheric water generator for about 1200 a piece and then get some solar panals from my solar back up .com and presto more water.

  17. We talked about bleach for purification.

    How much bleach per gallon of water should one use?

  18. Eight drops per gallon. Make sure you use unscented bleach.

    - Patrice