There is no more fundamental need than a steady supply of water. Without it, our bodies cannot survive more than a few days. Yet when natural disasters or other emergencies take place, municipal water is often one of the first victims. And large-scale terrorism is likely to target water distribution as a key element of infrastructure to disrupt.
So it’s critically important that we take whatever steps we can to ensure that we can maintain a safe and adequate supply of water under whatever circumstances may occur.
The most important things are to educate yourself and then to prepare. Make sure you understand the implications of line breaks. Understand how to handle a boil-water advisory. And then get your home and your family ready for how to handle a disruption in water.
As you plan for the very real possibility of a water outage, there are some major areas of concern you should address.
Starting Off Right
Water failures are rarely caused by damage at the distribution points or purification sites. It’s generally a result of line breakage. Earthquakes are notorious for creating ground shifts that twist pipes and break their joints apart.
But other failures are less sudden. A period of unusually wet weather can leave heavy soils shifting and moving, causing rocks and other buried objects to rub against water lines and create leaks that can ultimately become large enough to disrupt service.
The ideal water pipe is reinforced with a chrome carbide overlay that will resist this type of damage. If you don’t know whether your utility has built lines with such materials, try to find out and then urge them to make the change if necessary.
Maintaining Your Own
Inside your house is the most complex part of the water delivery process. The many fixtures and appliances requiring water create a maze of pipes that must be carefully monitored and maintained.
It does you no good to have a great municipal water system if your own system will fail you! Slow leaks in crawlspaces may never impact you until the pressure from your supplier drops. And other malfunctions may be okay until the system shuts down, then reactivates with a surge of pressure that finally breaks a joint or connection that had barely been hanging on.
Keep your own equipment in top running order so that outside disruptions won’t be made worse.
Conserve & Plan
Although our home’s water supply is pressurized in most uses, it’s still functional when we operate with stored water. Toilet tanks can be easily refilled with jugs or bottles that you keep on hand. Water can be heated and dumped into the tub for easy bathing. You can even do laundry with a stockpile of water.
You’ll get creative if your system shuts down, but you have to make sure that you have first stored that water. Hang on to used milk jugs, juice containers, water bottles, and any other sanitary vessel you can get, then fill them with water and store them safely. Other containers can be used for non-potable water for toilets and laundry.
Even the best municipal water system will experience a failure here and there. You must be prepared to operate on your own when it happens. If you make the proper plans, you can get through until repairs are made.