4 Ways to prepare for a water shortage.

iStockphoto / Valdore         Back in business!
Whew! We had the well company out to the house today. Problem solved. Something about a failed ball valve and the pump in the well losing power. So it wasn't a dry well, after all! But just the thought that it could be was enough to get us thinking and talking. With no water--which meant no shower, no flushing toilets, and no doing dishes or laundry--it didn't take long before we were brainstorming ways to harvest rain water, install a solar shower, and build our own composting toilet. 

The fact is, you never know if something you've always counted on (like water) is going to suddenly stop being there for you. This is especially true for those of us on a well, but things can happen in the city, too, like water rationing. Whether it's a natural disaster, drought, or it's your own well that's at fault, it makes good sense to be prepared. Here's four things you can do:
iStockphoto /

Rain water harvesting: If you live in an urban area, you likely get your water from a municipal source. Have you noticed? Water is getting expensive.I don't know about you, but in Eugene where we live and work during the week, the water rates are skyrocketing. But even on the farm, were you might think our water is free--it isn't. Though we have a well, we still pay for electricity to run the pump and filter equipment. We pay to maintain the filtration system (several pieces of equipment), change the filter media every couple years, and test the water on a regular schedule. It may cost less than water in the city, but it still comes at a price. Guess what. Rainwater is free, and whether you live in the city or the country, you can gather and store rainwater (though in some places this is outlawed, so check with your local government). Depending on how you set it up, rainwater can be used to wash dishes, bathe, and water your garden. Here's a great link if you want to learn more about setting up a rainwater system:  CLICK HERE for a "Rain Barrel Guide"--a great farm girl resource. Did you know, you can even turn rainwater into drinking water? CLICK HERE to learn how.

iStockphoto /
Drinking water: Don't have that rain barrel yet? You can still store water. If I'd had a few gallons of drinking water stored in jugs, I wouldn't have had to run to town at the drop of a hat to get some when my faucet stopped giving. Store your water somewhere cool. If you're using plastic jugs, you don't want them in a warm place where toxins from the plastic are more likely to leach into the water. It's also a good idea to change the water in these jugs every six months to keep it fresh (unless commercially prepared, in which case you replace once a year). Use expired jugs to water your tomatoes, then refill the jugs from your own tap, or buy new commercially prepared ones. CLICK HERE to learn how to properly store water. And here's another good link on what kind of water containers are best:CLICK HERE for more on storing water.

iStockphoto /
Solar shower: You could spend a lot or a little on a solar shower, but it doesn't have to be elaborate to get the job done. The simplest solution is a solar camp shower. There's several models available for under $30. These have a 5 gallon bag you fill with water (from that nifty rain barrel you installed) and a hose with a little shower head device. Though it's a camp shower, you don't have to use it outside. Just let it heat up in the sun, then hang it on a sturdy hook or rod over the tub. CLICK HERE for an example of a cheap solar shower.

iStockphoto /
Composting toilet: In a water shortage, you have a couple choices when it comes to the toilet. If you have plenty of spare water, say from that rainwater barrel, you could pour a bucket down the bowl to manually flush your toilet. But chances are in a real shortage, you won't want to waste your precious rainwater this way. This is when a composting toilet starts to make a lot of sense. If done right, it even produces healthy, nutrient-rich compost, like it's name suggests. You just sprinkle on sawdust or peat moss each time to break down the "matter" and turn it into useful compost for your garden. Yes, I'm serious.  CLICK HERE to see some nice composting toilets, but be fairly warned--these things aren't cheap! Want to build your own composting toilet for cheap? CLICK HERE to learn how. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. And if you're really interested: CLICK HERE for all the technical how-tos of using compost from your toilet to enrich your soil.

Overall, this whole running-out-of-water thing has been thought provoking. Sometimes it's good to be forced out of the norm for a bit, so you can see things a little differently, and get creative. Now we're more serious than ever about being prepared for the unexpected--in this case, a water shortage. You just never know...

Joy--Fearless Farm Girl,

"Farm girl: it's a verb, because it's what you do." 

No comments:

Post a Comment