Water Storage Levels

Self-sufficiency is an overwhelming topic and for most of our lives we have dabbled here and there picking up knowledge but it wasn’t until we began looking at each main category — Water – Shelter – and Food and assigning sub-categories in each of these areas that we really understood how shaky a ground we are standing on.

First I think you need to put self-sufficiency into levels. A few days, a few weeks, long term such as a few months or a year, and forever after to get a clear picture.  Let’s look at water. A huge need and yet we are on super shaky ground in this area since it involves big dollar expenditures. Though we can not do the things that would give us the most security at the moment, we can still do something. As I’ve stated before, we rely entirely on the water well for all our needs so no electricity, no water defines our emergency situation.

For a few days we could hold out with personal water needs with the five gallon plastic water containers we keep full and we have done so more than once — luckily not in the peak of summer with the garden demands. At this property when we had a huge leak in the line from the water well and had to shut it off, we had personal water storage, fewer animals and the stock tanks just happened to be full and lasted. Whew!, lucky us. But in reality it would not be an animal crisis since there is the option of asking one of our neighbors if we could herd the larger stock down to the creek on their property to water. We have so few larger stock animals, I can’t see a problem. Besides we have eggs and milk to barter most of the year. The smaller stock like rabbits and chickens we could lug water up the hill for them. If the emergency is a few short days we would use the vehicles to haul all the water we need for livestock and human consumption. The gardens are another story and it would depend on Mother Natures plans and the time of the year. Most outages for just a few days do not cover a wide spread area which lowers the emergency considerably.

Three weeks gets trickier. No way do we have a large storage tank with that capacity for personal needs and what if it is summer and the gardens and orchard are in need? The stock could probably still be herded. But if we can’t make three weeks, we have no hope of long term or forever.

So what do we need to do? We’ve looked at the problem and it adds up to some pretty big dollar investments. We decided since other things have to take priority like the house windows which literally are separating from the house and the siding rotting and coming off that we would work in increments on the problem. First,  rain collection – we would put in rain collection sites like the one I posted about yesterday. This includes putting rain gutters on the barn. If it indeed makes a dent in our needs, then we will add rain collection to the other downspouts.  pond is not out of the question. I know a gal that works for the state department that regulates water and I’m going to have her out and see what she thinks about a small pond at the bottom of the gully down off the pasture hill. There is an area that collects 10 to 15 feet of snow which melts come spring. Not much water but something and it might water some stock or we could plant chokecherry trees or wild plums around it. That is a thought to look into for the distant future.

So say we add for short term the:

  • tiny pond
  • rain collection
  • increase our personal water storage containers

It is something and something is better than nothing. Our next thought was to hook up the small generator that was gifted to us to the water well in a way it could be switched back and forth between electricity and generator power. First Kirk needs to install the part he bought for older generator. Cross your fingers it works. Then if we stored some gasoline, we could get by for a little longer period of time. Still short term.

Next level up is what many of our neighbors have done is to put in a house generator that kicks on automatically when the power goes out and is run by propane. That is thousands of dollars but a goal for the future.

For long term or forever would be a windmill and hand pump. They might require a new hole dug into the well so dollars signs once more. But one can not survive without water so……we will take it seriously as an option to look into.

Is water a part of your self-sufficiency plans. Could you hold out for 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months to a year, or forever after? It’s a tough question when you live in a semi-arid climate.  Is it also one of your greatest challenges to self-sufficiency?

2 thoughts on “Water Storage Levels

  1. Valerie

    We have been looking into this also. The manual pumps like bison are not within our budget. There is one by a company called Handy Well Pumps, that is more reasonable. Not as pretty as the bison, but if we are in a situation to need it, I don’t care what it looks like. With this pump, you get a kit and you add pvc pipe from your local hardware store to make it go down as far as you need. It can be attached to your system to fill your storage tank to make water available to all the faucets in your house. Of course this would mean someone pumping while water was being used. And they work on deep wells. We are getting ready to move to a new house and will be setting up water collection as well as getting a manual pump for the well to make sure we have access to water.


    1. So glad you mentioned Handy Well Pumps. I will look into them. I’m with you on looks. I had looked at Bison also and the price was costly. We had wind mills on the ranch and so I’d like to look in that direction also. I love wind mills. The barrel water storage is going great. The run off the roof is too much for the barrels so we are looking to move them to lower flowing drains and buy tanks much larger for the two sites. I’ve also been looking into ideas for storage for the barn roof water run off. The barn is good sized so why waste that. The project looks so far to be more worth our while than I thought.


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