Ready For Anything
For millions of Californians, water rationing isn’t a fear; it’s now a reality. In July, State Water Resources Control Board bureaucrats advanced mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering statewide. The proposed regulations will, according to the Los Angeles Times (July 9, 2014), “require agencies to ban wasteful outdoor watering, hosing down sidewalks and driveways, and washing a car without a shut-off nozzle.”
The punitive measures come as California faces one of its most severe droughts in decades. But drought isn’t the only threat to water security.
Consider the current state of America’s water infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), that state is “Poor.” ASCE’s 2013 Report Card gave America’s Drinking Water infrastructure a grade of “D.”
ASCE explains that “much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. Assuming every pipe would need to be replaced, the cost over the coming decades could reach more than $1 trillion…”
Investing in What’s Necessary
If it’s necessary that these investments get made, then they probably will. In an economy where much discretionary consumer spending and government waste could be cut if necessary, water infrastructure is one investment theme that is durable.
The Guggenheim S&P Global Water ETF (CGW) ETF has gushed impressive returns over the past few years. Have investors who haven’t gotten on board yet missed the boat? Perhaps for the time being. The broad market is long overdue for a pullback, which would likely give investors a more attractive entry point into water stocks.
In the years ahead, water could start trading as a global commodity on futures exchanges. More robust markets for water rights and de-regulation of water utilities would also help investors and ultimately improve water availability for consumers.
In the meantime, do you have a plan for how you’d cope if infrastructure breakdown, rationing, or a natural disaster caused you to lose access to clean tap water?
Where to Obtain Drinking
Water When the Tap Runs Dry
You and your family can’t live without safe, clean water. What if your water stores are running low, but there is no sign of the municipal water system coming back on line? What would you do in an emergency?
In a disaster situation, you can’t rely exclusively on your stored water. Right away, as soon as it is safe, start looking for ways to supplement your water reserves. Fortunately, you have multiple options for locating fresh water that is safe to drink.
Your Home’s Hot Water Heater
You have up to 60 gallons of clean, safe drinking water hiding right under your nose. When full, your hot water heater contains that much water. And it comes from the same source that feeds your tap, so it is safe for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
But you have to act fast. Otherwise it will become contaminated. At the first sign of a problem, here’s what to do:
- Shut off electricity to the water heater
- Close the tank’s supply valve, so it does not pull in any water from contaminated sources
- Locate the drain valve at the base of the heater. Flush it briefly to clear out any dirt or debris that collected there
- To get a good flow of water from the heater, turn on a hot water tap in the house. This allows air into the system and water will flow freely from your water heater through the drain valve
There may be some sediment in the water from your heater. The water will still be considered safe to drink, but it’s a good idea to let the sediment settle first, then put the water through a filter .
Other Sources Around the House
If a flood or storm is coming or if you have another reason to believe the general water supply may become compromised, fill your bathtubs immediately. Bathtubs vary in size. You can add anywhere from 30 to 120 gallons to your water stores … per tub!
As long as you don’t add chemical treatments to your toilet tanks, you’ll find multiple gallons of clean, safe water there. Use the tank water. Not water that is already in the bowl! Turn the water valve off at the base of the toilet to prevent any water from being lost. And if possible, boil the water before drinking to ensure that is free from germs that may be lurking around the toilet.
Don’t forget to use the ice in your freezer as a source of water. Bags of ice. Trays of ice. It’s all water once it melts. And it’s good for drinking.
If a disaster is disruptive enough, you may need to seek sources of water outside your home. Set up a barrel for rain collection. In cold climates, snowmelt is a safe option for water collection.
Learn your local area. Are there rivers, streams, or ponds where you can collect water? What about local fresh water springs? Take the time now to locate these valuable sources of water, so you’re ready to use them.
(Tip: Have some extra water jugs to make transport between local water sources and your home easier.)
Depending on where you live, you may be able to dig for water. This is a labor-intensive option, but if all else fails, it could be worth the ef fort. Learn about your local water table ahead of time, so you know what to expect if you do need to dig.
When gathering water from outdoor sources like a local spring or stream, you need to take extra steps to make sure the water is safe to drink. That means purifying it. You can purify water using the boil method or with chlorine bleach. You can also use iodine tablets, colloidal silver, or UV treatment.
One more note – after a disaster like a hurricane, earthquake, flood, or anything else that compro – mises local water treatment facilities, do not rely solely on a home filtering system to treat your water. These systems are built to treat water that is already relatively clean. The extra particulates in the contaminated water supply could clog your filtering system and compromise its performance.
Keep These Water
Emergency Guidelines Handy
If your goal is to be ready-for-anything, access to clean, safe water should be one of your top priorities. Feel free to cut out this article and tape the foregoing tips to one of your water storage containers. Then you’ll know immediately where to look if your own water supplies start to run out.