Water wells and urban survival
Water, water everywhere and nar a drop to drink – is a classic statement from the rhyme of the ancient mariner. But in the case of urban survival, there is no water and there is nothing to drink.
Most urbanites depend on water supplied by the city – through the cities water system. However, this is also a weak point in disaster planning. Most cities and towns have prohibited their citizens from digging private wells. If that is the case in your area, its time to get the laws changed. Not being able to have your own water supply makes you and your family a slave to city. Free people do not ask permission to use something that is on their own property – or in the case of ground water, under their property. Slaves ask permission, freemen use what is theirs as they see fit.
Depending on the area where you live, that will define how deep the well has to be. If you are planning on installing a water pump, go ahead and set it up for an electric water pump as well as a hand powered pump. This would include a housing for the pump to go in, ground rod and maybe electrical wiring.
Instead of a hand powered pump, a solar powered unit could be installed and the solar cells could be placed on top of the pump house. But in this article, we will just be discussing hand powered pumps.
Studies from developing nations show that 90% hand powered water pumps break down within 3 years. This is mainly due to worn out or broken parts. In the case of hand powered pumps, what you pay for may very well be what you get. So if you plan on installing a hand powered water pump, do not buy the cheapest product on the market.
To start with, contact the local city hall, or water district to make sure that citizens are allowed to have their own water well. Some cities allow such wells, but only for farm or garden use. So you might have to explain that your putting in a garden, and you want a private well so you do not run up your water bill. If your town or city does not allow private wells, then its time to get the laws changed.
After everything has been cleared with the city, look through the local telephone book and find a water well service. Call them, get a bid and some references.
When the well is dug, a truck will need access to the property – which drills a hole into the ground and inserts the drill stem. This is sometimes 3 or 4 inch in diameter steel pipe. The well digger will drill down until they hit water, and then keep going for another few feet.
The way these pumps work, there is a piston that moves up and down in a shaft. The lever from the handle provides the force needed to bring the water to the top of the line.
When deciding on a water pump, be sure to pick a unit that is designed for the depth of your well and the capacity that your and your family needs. In a worse case scenario, and the pump is your only source of water – will it provide enough for your needs?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average US family uses 400 gallons of water per day. Most of that goes to watering lawns and gardens. During a disaster, the grass can die, but the garden will need water.
Some things to take into consideration:
Personal hygiene – hand washing (is the number 1 way to prevent the spread of disease), brushing your teeth, taking a bath or shower, washing your hair, feet, groin area. All of these are important to help prevent skin infections and the spread of disease.
Physical activity – more work means more water requirements.
Pets and live stock – they need water to. The larger the animal, the larger the water requirements.
Garden – in times of drought, the garden is going to need water.
Some of the big questions are: how many family members and friends will be sharing the pump, how many pets and types of animals will the pump need to support, how big is your garden.
Lets take the garden and animals out of the picture and go from there. For personal hygiene, drinking water and household pets, lets put an estimate of 5 gallons per person per day. Keep in mind, that is just a rough estimate. Its easier to do the math on 5 gallons per person then 6 or 7 gallons per person. So to keep things simple, lets just say 5 or 10 gallons per person – per day.
Each person should have their own water bottles – and do not share bottles between people. This is to help control the spread of disease. After the bottle has been emptied, leave the cap off and allow the inside to dry. This will help prevent the growth of mold or bacteria inside the bottle.
Depending on the depth of the well, the water may be up to 20 degrees colder then the day time temperatures. This can really be nice during the July and August hot summer months.
Minerals in the water table will affect the taste. If there is Sulfur in the area, the water might have a sight disagreeable taste. To help remove some of the funny taste, consider getting some water pitchers with a built in filter.
Every human being and every living thing on the face of the earth needs water. In a survival situation, whether its urban or rural, every person in the unit will need water. These needs go past just “drinking water” – there is hygiene, hand washing, cleaning of wounds, watering of pets and livestock, watering the garden,,,,,, the list goes on and on.
For basic survival, three things are required – food, water and shelter. But when the nearest water supply is miles away, what are people to do? Its either take the buckets and pack the water several miles from the nearest lake or stream, or have your own personal water well.
With drinking water from lakes and streams also comes the risk of water borne infections, such as typhoid, cholera and polio – only to name a few. Drinking water from a well is less likely to be contaminated with diseases. Not to say that its impossible, but its less likely.