Water Storage Strategy

Reliance-lifeguard1Water Storage on a Suburban Homestead can be limited by the size and installation of water collection containers. In order to meet city codes or HOA rules you may need to limit the overall dimension of your rain barrel or water tank. The smaller containers with the limited storage capacity will not keep up with collection or consumption. There are certain months of the year when the rainfall is not enough and other months when it’s too much and you need to divert the water from your barrels. You will need the capacity to store as much water as feasible.

We recommend storing a minimum of one month or 120 gallons for drinking for a family of 4 and another 400 gallons for a garden that is sized to supplement a food storage program. Remember this is an absolute minimum so if a storage capacity of 500 gallons is not feasible than an alternative water source such as a lake or well would need to be considered for a prolonged emergency. Using tap water you should store water in plastic 5 gallon jugs for drinking as part of your preparedness plan. We recommend you store at least 55 gallons inside at all times for drinking.

The shelf life for water that has been filtered is 1 year. Always store containers in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Keep in mind that your 5 gallon jugs will weigh over 40 pounds so make sure the area in which you store the water is strong enough to support the weight. To improve the taste of water stored for a long time, pour it from one clean container to another clean container several times, to put air back into it.  If supplies do run low, never ration drinking water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing your activity level. There are many hidden water sources in your house if you find yourself in an emergency situation without enough water. These include pipes, ice cubes, hot water tank and even the water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (DO NOT use the bowl).


Self Reliance Strategies offers Berkey Water Filters and other Rain Barrel/Sustainability products.  Please visit our store for more information on our products.

Water Collection Strategy

Rain water collection using Rain Barrels is the simplest way to self reliance with your water supply but until recently very few people in the suburbs took advantage of this resource. It’s actually amazing how much even a small roof can collect in a year’s time. Here is a link to many US cities average rainfall. The calculation below will allow you to figure out just how much you can collect.

• square footage of roof X .6 = gallons per 1 inch of rain.
• gallons per 1 inch of rain X average inches rain per month = amount available for collection

After you know just how much rain water you can collect, decide what kind of rain barrel you want to use. There are several choices; the 50 gallon plastic rain barrel from Tractor Supply Company costs $100 and is molded to look like an old wooden oak barrel. It is good to use in areas that are visible from the street or around the back porch since they look nicer. These come with the threaded hole for the spigot and a hole on the top already cut. Several other types are now being sold at Lowes and Home Depot. TSC also sells larger water tanks up to several hundred gallons. We can also help you make your own rain barrel for a fraction of the cost of buying one.

Finally you’ll need to install gutters and downspouts where you need to collect the water. This can be done by yourself  but for our local clients if you need assistance we recommend Kelley O’Connor Inc. for all our gutter and rain collection installations. They are a Christian company and offer exceptional quality and value. Contact Kelley at (407) 221-5315 or email info@selfreliancestrategies.com to schedule a free estimate.

We have been blessed that our Suburban Homestead is on a small 7 acre natural lake. In working with our local water management organization we learned much about the lake. It has an excellent water quality and is fed by the underground water table. Basically it is a sinkhole that is at least 50 years old but could be as old as 500 years. Even though a water source may seem to be excellent quality you must plan to filter the water for drinking (more on that in a later). It should be safe for all other uses without filtration.  

We installed a 2 HP pump for irrigation of our yard, fruit trees, herbs and garden. This setup can be installed by yourself with considerable planning. Using a contractor will cost approximately $1,700 for a basic system. Self Reliance Strategies can also help you with the design if you prefer to do it yourself which can save you 30-50%. Using this setup saves us about 50% on our water bill plus our plants love it.

Side Note:
You can also prepare to supplement this setup during a “grid down” scenario. Using an 8500 watt gas powered generator you can run the pump to fill rain barrels to use to irrigate the garden or even for drinking. This saves on the valuable fuel as opposed to burning more fuel by using the generator to irrigate directly.

Wells can be used as a sustainable source for crop irrigation, other grey water applications and drinking if filtered. Keep in mind though that using a well without electricity will require pumping either using a hand pump or a solar or gas powered generator. A solar pump or gas generator can be used to fill rain barrels or cisterns if needed. A well is considerably more costly to install since most homeowners are not able to do it themselves. Most wells drill at least 180 ft. down. The costs range from $3,500 to $4,500. In Florida it is possible to drill a shallow well yourself but the water source is much less reliable. Here is a pretty good website that gives an overview of drilling your own well.

For logistics sake you’ll still want to use the rain barrel as a method to store all these collection strategies..  We talk more about that in the Water Storage Post.


Self Reliance Strategies offers Berkey Water Filters and other Rain Barrel/Sustainability products.  Please visit our store for more information on our products.

Bring the Rain: Water Sustainability Using Rain Barrels

5ac600d1-f275-4371-8a4a-7aa9cd47f237Water is probably the most important aspect of successful self reliance. A homestead cannot be sustained without a clean, reliable water source. In emergency situations it’s the most important aspect to consider with experts stating that at a minimum to plan for at least 1 gallon per family member per day. Our goal in the Water Blog Posts is to present possible sources for water if your normal supply was no longer available due to some sort of interruption. We advocate the use of Rain Barrels for collection, and will cover other other storage and filtration strategies and also offer other water preparedness ideas for your Suburban Homestead.

Most suburban homes rely on “city water” as the main source for potable water so a successful Suburban Homestead must be able to provide its own sustainable water source if the faucet isn’t flowing. During a major emergency with a prolonged grid-down situation, the water may flow but it will not be drinkable if the treatment plants are not running. Three sustainable sources for your homestead to consider are well, lakes/streams/rivers, or rain water. In this post we will focus mostly on ideas and applications that we have tested and been using for several years on our own Suburban Homestead.

The main uses for water on a suburban homestead are for drinking/cooking, hygiene, and irrigation for crops. Since most city or county ordinances prevent suburban homes from using any source other than the city for potable water it is unrealistic to be completely self-reliant in everyday living when it comes to turning on your faucet to get water. We can however work to provide the peace of mind of knowing that if the water turns off to your home, you have the ability to sustain your family yourself with your own water source using a Rain Barrel. Plus your garden will grow so much better using rain water instead of the mostly chlorinated city water.


Self Reliance Strategies offers Berkey Water Filters and other Rain Barrel/Sustainability products.  Please visit our store for more information on our products.

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