Creating Water Out Of Nothing
November 7, 2011 by David Morris
Water is one of the most important things you need to consider in a survival situation. I want to share a few thoughts I have on things that can be done on a city or regional level to increase the amount of water that’s available in drought situations. These are measures that can be taken both now and in a grid-down survival situation.
First, plug leaks. The effect of plumbing leaks is incredible. In Austin, Texas, a plumbing company is offering to replace up to 1,000 leaky toilet flappers for free. At a water savings of 10 to 100 gallons per toilet per day, this amounts to a savings of somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 gallons per month. Some places may be able to absorb that kind of waste, but Austin is in what many consider to be the 11th year of a drought that is expected to last at least another year. This is enough water to provide a gallon per day to between 10,000 and 100,000 people, so it’s potentially serious business.
Second, remove cedars. Another Texas water creation story comes from ranches in the Hill Country of Texas. Several years ago, a friend of mine would buy up ranches that had lots of juniper trees (mountain cedar) and seasonal springs. He would then clear out all of the cedars, which would increase water flow considerably and in many cases cause the springs to become year-round springs. Then, he would sell them for a profit, since land with running water is generally worth more than land with a dry creek bed.
The last paragraph will surely bring up a lot of debate. Getting rid of cedar trees was shown to free up 35,000 gallons of water per year per acre in one Central Texas study referenced here (I am unable to find the original study). The issue that complicates the whole matter is that while cedar trees use up to 33 gallons per tree per day, they don’t use up that much more than other plants and the water “savings” remain in effect only as long as the cedars aren’t replaced by high-demand grasses or other trees.
Regardless, I do see situations where people sitting on 10 to 40 acres and a seasonal spring may want to clear out cedar to increase available groundwater — even if it’s only for a few years to fill a tank or get through a rough patch.
Third, don’t water your lawn. I’m always amazed when I have lived in or visited arid high mountain desert communities at the amount of grass that people have planted and how green it is. It’s not uncommon for people with .2-acre yards to use 15,000 to 30,000 gallons of water per month to keep their lawns looking green in these regions. In areas where the primary grasses die after a week or two without water (instead of going dormant), it becomes a choice between two evils during extended droughts: Spend money on water or spend money on replacing your lawn.
This is why, in many cities across the country, people are turning to rock gardens, wood chip gardens, xeriscaping and planting edible, native, drought-resistant plants in their yards. In some cases, people are making the change because they want to conserve water. In other cases, they have decided that it’s too much hassle trying to make grass grow and stay green when nature seems to have other plans. Still, in other cases, it’s because droughts have caused watering restrictions and dead lawns, and people want to “plant” rocks once rather than spending so much time and money on grass.
What are your thoughts on water and strategies to make more water available for drinking and irrigation? What about gray water recycling? Any thoughts on legislating water conservation vs. personal liberty? Where does my right to spend as much as I want on water intersect with other people wanting water to drink? Are stepped-up prices the answer (the more you use, the more you pay per gallon) or something else? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
As an aside, we changed our clocks this weekend. In addition to using the weekend to change clocks and change batteries in our smoke and CO detectors, we also used it as a time to make sure that our preparedness items are in good shape and make the appropriate changes for the seasons.
Here’s a list of some of the things that we did:
- Put backup cold-weather clothes in our cars.
- Made sure that supplies that we think are in our cars are actually in our cars. (I have a habit of wearing shorts and sandals in the summer, grabbing shoes and socks out of the car when we’re away from home and I need them and forgetting to replace them. We have the same habit with backup clothes for the boys and snacks for the boys.)
- Cycled out all food that was in our cars over the summer and eat or donate it.
- Checked the batteries in our 72-hour kits and go bags.
- Checked medical kits. Replaced expired items, items with compromised packaging and items that we used over the past six months.
- Bought another box of fresh daily carry ammo and shoot the stuff I’ve been carrying.
- Replaced CR123A Lithium batteries in my daily use lights.
- Recharged or replaced desiccant in our gun safe.
- Confirmed that all guns were cleaned and oiled.
- Did a quick inventory of our pantry to make sure we hadn’t used up stuff without replacing it.
- Confirmed that go bags and camping backpacks hadn’t been looted during outings.
- Evaluated goals from the past six months.
- Made goals for the next six months.
- Took pictures of or scanned any new critical documents, encrypted them and added them to our thumb drives in our Get Out Of Dodge bags.
- Evaluated our current state of preparedness in light of what we’ve learned over the past six months and/or what happened to be at the top of our minds at the time.
- Rotated and stabilized our fuel storage.
Did you do something similar?