How to Get Water When the Utility Grid Collapses

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Water is the most important prep, in my book. Even living in a tropical country with an abundance of water, easy access to clean water can sometimes get scarce. It’s impossible to write about water without mentioning the minimum ration: one gallon per day per person. But, what do you do to get water when there is no power?

As usual, your surroundings and what you have around you will determine what method you use to provide yourself with water. Sure, advanced preppers inform that in extreme conditions, some water sources could be unusual ones, such as toilet tanks, water heaters, irrigation systems, the grid pipelines itself in their lower spots, and others.

Even fire hydrants could be a water source, but (and it’s a BIG but) these systems are under a VERY dangerous level of pressure, and I would advise against it unless you know very well what you’re doing. Furthermore, the chances are that this water is chemically treated with products to avoid corrosion, for example, and unsafe for our purposes. So, buyer beware.

Getting water when there is no power after a city-wide collapse is difficult.

My point is that cities are dangerous places to live after a collapse. Consider the rise in crime, for example.

Urbanites are definitely at a disadvantage here when we talk about having access to safe water continuously. Let’s say the grid stops working. If your big city job is gone (like what happened to me), then staying in the city then is probably not your best move. We can identify basically three water sources that should be safe once SHTF and we need water.

These main sources are:

  1. Rainwater collection
  2. Rivers/streams/seawater desalination.
  3. Wells

Each one of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.


You have to have rain to collect it, and that’s something that needs to be remembered. A few months of a severe drought, and you’re toast if your reservoirs get depleted.

In some areas, rainwater may not be as pure as hoped for, and rainwater should be subject to purification before drinking. I know that fumes from the oil production facilities have made rain here carry a suspiciously high level of heavy metals.

However, worst-case scenario, you just need a roof and a barrel to collect it if you have nothing else. The setups to collect rainwater are as finite as the household itself. Even in a small apartment, it could be possible to collect some water with a couple of tarps, some PVC pipes, good-sized funnels, and jerrycans, given the need.

Surface water sources

Just like with rain, sometimes these sources could carry nasty bugs, and exhaustive purification is a must. However, this can be achievable with good planning and investing. Compared to rainwater, surface water should be available the whole year. If your planning is adequate, the impact on your reservoir should be minimum, which is great. Furthermore, a reservoir for irrigation, for instance, could be as well used as a fish growing tank, producing protein-rich food.

If a drought is present, pumping water out of a permanent stream to our ponds or tanks can make a huge difference. Seawater desalination is expensive with current methods like reversal osmosis. However, using solar distillation could be practical if you have enough space.

(This is a good time to mention that you should read our free QUICKSTART Guide on surviving a summer power outage.)


Main disadvantage? They’re expensive unless you have some basic knowledge of what you’re doing. This article can look a little bit complicated, but someone with some experience surely could overcome the obstacles and understand the language.

If you don’t plan to bug out and have enough space to build a suburban compound large enough to raise most of your own food, investing in a well is the best use for the money. The cost of drilling one is an incredible amount of money, but if you can afford it, go for it.

Pumping out of them is a different issue, though; using methods like windmills is very likely the best approach.

Water treatment without grid power

We have roughly three options to purify collected off-grid water. Please be aware you should do your own research beforehand.

Pool cleaning products.

Sure, these options will work, but only as long as you have a product available to treat your water. Have a plan to replace your chemicals with an equally safe purifying method.

They say these chemicals have a long shelf life. However, I’ve never used them, and after an accident where my best friend was almost suffocated by a cloud of chlorine gas when we were teenagers, I would say, be careful.


No matter the source your water comes from, it is a good practice to filter it. This can be done very inexpensively as well. There are plenty of ways to do this. Check out this link for a wealth of good information.


This is one of the safest ways to purify water because many dissolved substances will remain behind once water evaporates. However, the taste is quite different from other clean waters, as, in the process, some salts and other minerals are lost.


If your area allows for it, this is another quite affordable method for distillation. They are the simplest DIY devices you could build. Their main disadvantage is you would need a very large surface area as its efficiency may be low. The good thing is, they are quite easy to build with some scrap glass sheets and a bit of ingenuity.


Provided you have a constant firewood supply or another heat source for your boiler. This is a great method. You experience the same problems with the taste, though, as you do with distillation, and not everyone likes it.


These should have to be massive and would consume too much power to produce the needed water to be practical in many places. However, if you have access to some affordable dehumidifiers, these can be easily rigged to produce water if the humidity in your area is high enough. Water supply may be not be too much, but rest assured, as long as the device is working, it will be there.

My very own personal advice: get an elevated tank. The largest capacity you can afford. No matter how you refill it, size DOES matter regarding water reserves. I know it’s an OPSEC killer, but it’s always concealable to some degree. For when you need pumping water in, this pump is one of the easier to build I’ve ever seen. You won’t need anything exotic. Of course, a wind-powered pump is ideal for filling an elevated tank, maybe even from a deep well, as it has been for many decades. This simple design is one of the most simple I could find, and I truly plan to give it a shot. On the other side, this design using a bicycle is another of the simplest I have ever seen. That chain could use a good tensioner, though.

Upon installing a large tank, make sure ALL of your taps and connections DO NOT LEAK. This may sound like fool advice, but this needs constant inspection and corrective maintenance work. Stashing the needed materials in bulk (much cheaper) and learning how to make those small repairs really end by paying off at the end of the day. You will just need patience, a good lamp, and some music.

Water is vital to life.

You cannot live without it, so the astute prepper will learn all that he can to find it after a disaster. Hopefully, you’ve found the above tips of mine to be of use. What are your thoughts, though? Any comments? Are there other options you would advocate for? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to give it a try to homestead in the mountains, and make a living as best as possible. But this time in his own land, and surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, with all the gear and equipment collected, as the initial plan was.

 Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations:

J.G. Martinez D

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations:

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  • Again, more useless advice for what IS coming to America. The day of the next false flag using the stolen nuke from 2007 and blamed on Iran is the day Russia, China and the whole SCO nuke and invade the USA. This is the war of Armageddon and you can know it is now because of the chemtrails sprayed every day globally to hid the approaching red Planet X. Planet X caused the sinking of Atlantis and Noah’s flood. This time around it will end the coming, planned WW3 when it rips North America into thirds, erupts Yellowstone super volcano and kills 5/6 of the 200 million SCO invaders but 90% of Americans will be dead by then. As for the water, there will be no well water. Ths Bible states that the wells will go dry within three hours of the attack. Nukes crushing the aquifer channels I suppose. The surface water will be contaminated with radiation, the wormwood the Bible mentions and state many men will die from the waters because they were made bitter. Rain water is already contaminated with the poisonous chemtrails they hide Planet X with and I see no reason they will not continue to spray the globe until Planet X is here. As for Yellowstone….anyone can fuigure out what that is going to do. This is all planned by the criminal bastard governments and their evil bastard alien masters. Humans must execute the government and alien bastards and remove completely all lying media (all media) and all banks. Every one of the criminal bastards should be burned alive in public view including anyone promoting the scamdemic and death shot fake “vaccine.”

      • Yes, we could maybe execute the gov’t(s) and remove the banks, but what to do about those fatherless aliens?

      • Start with Amos, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habbakuk, Micah, Lamentations, and most of Psalms. They are all about the coming war. Look up the stolen nuke from 2007 and all the dead bodies associated with it. Look at the engineered food shortages coming. Look at your sky and all the shit they spray in it every day globally to hide the red Planet X. Watch the red “sunrise” before sun-up and youll see the white sun come up in another spot.Listen to the news coming out of Russia and China. Both have told us they will nuke us over Iran. Look up the “mysterious” hums all around the world over the last couple decades. That is the evil bastards building underground cities. Look at the scamdemic and death shots that were implemented exactly the same in every country on the planet. Somewhere there are two videos, one with Bitcvh Klinton and another with an ambassador from the fake israel and both are talking about another false flag to blame on Iran. At this point, it takes an idiot to not see what is coming. And it takes 300 million dumb americunts to let it happen while they have geriatric despot pervert who is supposedly “leading” the country while insulting the whole world. The Bible and other prophets talk about the lizard aliens running the planet. There is a video of the lizard-shit pfizer ceo breathing through his neck exactly like a lizard. Many of the TV “people” have been caught on camera shape-shifting.

            • 1stMarineJarHead is a personal friend and not a government troll. You need to dial it back a notch, my friend.

              • I disagree. He’s always here and he spouts ridicule, one of the liars’ favorite techniques. Every commenter online on anything “controversial” is a government liar. Every web page purporting to have “news” is also controlled by governments or aliens. I know this to be fact. I once maintained a list of known agents on youtube. I could tell you when someone was going off shift and who would replace them. Then the bastards flew an apache 30ft. over my house. I long ago tired of “communicating” with the govt liars and I was hoping that someone real might show up. Doesnt matter. Sheeple are too stupid to live and so they wont be doing it much longer. Whats worse is the evil ones controlling this planet deserve death way more.

                • An Apache flew 30ft over your house??

                  And, you think anyone controls Daisy? HA!
                  Man, you need to be seeing a whole team of psychologists!

          • “Man, you need to be seeing a whole team of psychologists!”

            Go to hell you ridiculing piece of criminal government shit! If I felt like it and I thought it would make any difference at all, Id fill up this comment section with the proof and links for everything. And what are psychologists good for? Handing out evil SSRI drugs that make people kill people and themselves! I hope youve had all your vaccines and are up to date on all your boosters too, I really do.

            • You are no man of God with a mouth like that. Your fruit is in alignment with the father of lies. Better go back and reread that Book you keep talking about I can see you missed something vital.

            • Vaccines? Boosters?
              I did get COVID back in SEP2020. Three days of a mild cold and was over it. Have not been sick since. I think it has to do with that natural immunity thing.
              I dont even get the flu shot.

              Hey! Is that the sound of a helo I hear??
              Or the scratching of a lizzard on the side of the house?

    • Same old same old. Could be lifted straight out of yet another trashy Marvel movie. Can’t you come up with a slightly different plot?

      • No government liar. That is the story in most of the Bible, what every prophet everywhere says and what the (real) news says. Even the bastards running the show have told their plans.

    • As much as it pains me to agree with ant7, he is correct about filtering.

      The over flow pipe from one of our wells, I was filling for the livestock. White 5 gal bucket.
      I saw very small, thread like, red worms wiggling in the water. Only one, at most 2 in a full 5 gallon bucket. But enough to give me the willies. Fish them out with a fine mesh net, no worries.

      Still, have more than one way of filtering water.

      • ????”Red Wigglers, the Cadillac of worms…” ???? (a jingle from the old “WKRP in Cincinnati” show?)
        Pretty sure they’re mosquito larvae. But not 100%, so you were right to get rid of them.
        Had to laugh at your pained admission…

  • “some water sources could be unusual ones”

    many businesses have outside water bibs with recessed sockets to restrict access. you can access these bibs using a sillcock key. two kinds – cheap light-weight keys or wheels for one socket size, and expensive heavy t-shaped keys with four socket sizes.

    • “some water sources could be unusual ones” – absolutely.

      City dwellers are unaware of natural spring water and other much less obvious sources around their town. I´ve mapped and visited several natural springs here. Big, huge town – like NY and LA or Chicago. There are hundreds all over.

      During a severe drought here years ago, I got some maps and started prospecting known springs. Most (99%) are hidden or covered by buildings or other urban structures. Some are located in parks, plazas and others, open sky.

      Underground garages are also common here. Those have automatic pumping systems to prevent flloding from pressure building of groundwater. It´s clean water though not drinkable right away. But it´s a huge source of relatively clean water nonetheless.

      Back then I collected some samples and took for analysis. Some is potable. Some is polluted or contaminated. Many can become potable after treatment, the kind that can be done at home. Even with portable systems: I admit I drank from a few springs before testing the water. Of course I filtered and trated chemically, thankfuly I survived.

      I know a lot of people here that would die of dehydration despite unknowingly sitting on lots of water. Most would have a hard time if tap water stops flowing and bottled water stops selling.

      • “City dwellers are unaware of natural spring water and other much less obvious sources around their town. I´ve mapped and visited several natural springs here. Big, huge town – like NY and LA or Chicago. There are hundreds all over.”

        excellent consideration. thanks.

  • One of the biggest problems is that the 1 gallon of water per person, per day is a survival ration of drinking water.
    That is NOT your average water need, per day!
    Usually it is more like 10 to 15 gallons, per person, per day.
    That includes water for personal hygiene, washing clothes, washing dishes, food prep and any other uses for water.
    So it is not just a matter of finding water, but in finding enough quantity of clean water, on a daily basis, that will keep you healthy and alive.

    Which is where urban dwellers will tend to face a big problem, too many people and not enough water to go around. Water will become more valuable than gold. Gangs or Militia’s will quickly grab control of water sources, in order to gain control over the local population.

    • One of the areas that is seldom addressed in relation to water, is in transporting it.
      In a daily living situation, let’s say you only needed 10 gallons of water per person, per day.
      That 10 gallons of water will weigh in at roughly 83.29 lbs. plus your container’s weight.
      Let’s just round it up to a total of 85lbs for this discussion.
      So how far will you have to go to get your water and how will you carry(transport), that 85 lbs. per person amount of water, back home? By Bike?, by Wagon?, Hand carry it?

      Suddenly that starts to change one’s thinking. How much water can you get out of a homes plumbing, if there is no water pressure? or even a commercial building? Especially if you need water for a group of people. How many others will be doing that also, so how long before there is no water left in those buildings? What is your backup plan?

      How much time can you allocate for water location, collection and transportation, on a daily basis?
      One hour? two?
      And how many people will be needed to transport it, if it is for a group or a large family?

      We need to look at and ask these questions also. You need to look at long term solutions and options, not just short term ones.

      • Why does He turn His face away….. ? the wide road is overflowing with people who put hope in creation (the world) with no reliance on the creator of creation. If people found access to 50k gallons of clean spring water, yet their spiritual condition remains in the same (spiritual indifference), what is the benefit … ? If people are only concerned with survival, enduring merely to live longer, where is the glory…. ? All is vanity, under the sun, futile and fruitless water; but, enduring in the fullness of the will of G-d, “loving your neighbor as yourself” in a dark world stained in rebelliousness and self-centered fear…… a Kingdom blessing; we seek to drink the living, eternal, water. True servants of the L-rd know, “One must go through much tribulation in order to enter into the Kingdom” (Acts 14:22). ‘Seek the Kingdom first, and (then), all these things will be added…..’

      • For survival for one day 1 calculate 4 liters , thus for 4 people 500 liters for a month survival. A lot of it in urban environment.

    • All good points. Which makes me think, in an urban environment, it probably only makes sense to keep enough water to keep going for a few days, because if it looks like the water emergency is going to last longer than that, your best bet is by far bugging out somewhere else.

      • Times goes much faster in a disaster situation. I was surprised how quick weeks were going one after another when I was stucked in Lima. I would never suggest anyone to stay in a city unless they have as a minimum a good pantry and access to safe water…and waste disposal.

    • “One of the biggest problems is that the 1 gallon of water per person, per day is a survival ration of drinking water.”

      Exactly. Any other estimate or calculation is based on ” normal world”. Who would even be able to use that much in case of a serious SHTF?

      I can tell you the homeless (in the city) and campers/backpackers (in the wilderness) don´t. The people who live in the semi-arid regions here also use water for the essential as well.

      These gives a more realistic idea of baseline use and need. I doubt anyone in Ukraine is trying to wash their clothes or showering, too. They may not be as healthy as before, but they´re alive.

      • Good resources for how to live on very limited water rations are RV living YouTube channels, like CheapRVliving.
        Taking sponge baths, washing dishes with a vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle, using a bucket for a toilet and other tips are on these channels. Lots of info on solar power, too.

  • We are blessed to have natural springs where we live. We have been drinking it for years. People line up to fill their containers. Farm animals get their water provided by the springs.

    • originally all human civilization was aligned with respect to access to water. without power it will be again. you’ll form the core of a new town.

  • A water Bob is great if you know a problem is coming. It’s basically a large closed lining that fits in your bathtub. They’re cheap to buy and you should have one for each bathtub you have. Also Berkey is a great filter. We use that as our daily filter and then have the sports bottles for when we travel.

    • TRUE but BURKEY is expensive for those on budgets or limited incomes. and what about the thousands that have NO bathtub. Take for instance people who actually live full time in a Camper/RV/Travel Trailer, Motor Home (NONE are equipped with bathtubs.) People in efficiencies, studio apartments and some 1 bedrooms all have SHOWERS as do the Campers, Rv,Travel Trailer and Motor Home folks. SOOOO bathtubs are ONLY usually in a larger apt. or a house. Mobile Homes do have bathtubs…Good suggestion CJ but of course it’s NOT a one size fits all solution…Stay safe and prepared! I use a BRITA filter and have for years. I stocked up on filters. Probably have enough to do me a year or more all bought at the 2015 price (far less than today) Bought packages of 6 to a box back then….

    • “A water Bob is great if you know a problem is coming”

      so is one of those “rises as it fills” above-ground swimming pools. can get a cover to reduce evaporation losses.

  • Great article as always, Jose! I love to read the writings of those who have actually lived through it, as opposed to theory and prophecy. Water is very important!

    My house, and most of those around me, have roofs made of composite shingles. Water from there will definitely require filtration! And watering the garden is an issue during the hottest summer months, typically July-August. We get lots of rain before and after, but almost none during those months. Plus the weather is very hot & humid. So collecting it when it’s raining is a great strategy, then use it when there’s no other source. Hopefully the city bureaucrats won’t fine residents with rain barrels. Unfortunately, those are OPSEC killers and to a certain type of person, will beg the question of what more is in this house. Which leads me to–

    Crime. Which has definitely gone up in my area, to the point that I have put security cams in. Of course if the grid is down then so are the cameras, so Smith & Wesson backup plan is also good. Unfortunately the mayor of my fair city would ban guns in a heartbeat if he could, and in the case of civil unrest, guns are very likely to be confiscated. Look up Hurricane Katrina. That’s exactly what the cops did, and I’m willing to believe that none were returned when the crisis passed.

    Buckle up, shut up, and do the best you can. It can and is happening here.

    • “Of course if the grid is down then so are the cameras”

      home depot sells self-contained solar-powered motion-sensing lights. about $25ea, just mount them on the edges of your roof and done. last about a year. might help some.

      • No kidding? You mean like the ones I have in my yard? Lights are great, solar is great. Cameras allow me to see what’s going on without endangering myself or revealing my presence. When investigating why the motion sensor light came on, I’m in a window. If I can see them, they can see me, even if I don’t turn my inside light on.

        • “Cameras allow me to see what’s going on without endangering myself or revealing my presence”

          sure, but you said that grid down they’d be down.

      • Do you mean like the ones I have in my yard already? They work very well but cameras allow me to investigate without endangering myself. When I go to check on why the motion light came on, I’m in a window. If I can see them, they can see me.

    • Dear Amy, after that horrendous experience of people getting disarmed after Katrina, I’d suggest getting a big bore toy that doesn’t use gunpowder. Like a Benjamin .357, just in case. or two. or three. I do know this about psychology of trespassers. A well placed slug without any sound will work wonderfully.

  • You can make a torpedo bucket out of PVC and a brass check valve, tie a rope to it and drop it in a well to get water in a grid down situation.

  • dunno how valid this item is:
    Bamboo Tower Produces Up To 25 Gallons of Water In A Day Without Electricity. Goto https: //tinyurl. com/ 2p93axnb for more information.

    It does look promising to folks who can afford the $1000 each price.

  • So far I’ve not seen a discussion here about the different levels of water purification that could be used for different water usage needs. One vital implication of that perspective is that while the highest level of purified water (such as from distillation that can remove industrial chemicals, unregulated pharmaceuticals, animal urine, and even radiation, etc) could be critically needed for drinking water, cooking water such as soup making where the water will be consumed, and final rinsing of washed dishes … the purification needs for other uses can be achieved with lesser purification methods (such as various low-energy needing water filters with replaceable parts that have high quantity capabilities).

    Even cooking over rising steam can be done with relatively dirty water because 1) the steam that directly contacts the food being cooked has been in fact distilled “on the fly,” or 2) if that rising steam is only used to heat the cooking vessel, its purity is a non-issue.
    There a lot of other water uses that don’t need the drinking water purity. Obvious examples would include washing the car or the dog, but less obvious needs could include the hot scrubbing dish-washing water (just not the final rinse). Flushing a toilet would be another obvious example.

    The point is that with multiple methods of purification and the awareness of which minimum levels are needed for different uses, you can conserve the higher purity water for use on only the real needs that justify it. One interesting result of that could be surviving during a long term power outage when perhaps only occasional sunlight could distill for your highest quality water needs while other non-power using methods could purify for lesser quality needs. One interesting example might be the slanted glass top passive solar distiller used along the southern US border next to Mexico where for several years whole families have super-cleaned their drinking water that way. One good DIY how-to book to make such a distiller (which I think of as a slightly slant topped pool table) would be this title on Amazon:

    DIY: How to Build a Solar Water Distiller: Do It Yourself – Make a Solar Still to Purify H20 Without Electricity or Water Pressure, Paperback – September 4, 2015
    by Sharon Buydens

    I was impressed enough by her instruction several years ago to squirrel away some sliding glass doors that a neighbor of mine was discarding after some home remodeling.
    There are of course many different ways to distill water, some portable and some too large and heavy for that.

    Again, if you rate your different water needs for their varying requirements of purity, you can much more easily handle the different sources of power available with different gadgetry. That’s a lot better strategy than trying to live with a “one method fits all needs” approach.


  • First, water bottles (like the kind you buy at the store). Main water filter (like a Berkey) and finally portable pump water filters (like Katadyn, MSR, and the new fangled squeeze/suck portable ones).

    Can’t be too careful and when desperate times comes people get desperate and will raid or destroy your water supply/contraptions.

    Berkey is good because it’s supposed to filter VOC chemicals like that might come off your roof.

    • You can also make inexpensive,Berkey type filters with a couple of food grade buckets and the filters. Instructions can be found on YouTube.
      Might be a good barter item if/when the grid goes down.

  • Happy to provide an update! I could afford (for a project non related to water) to get a water tank. 600 liters! It’s being hooked up to our piping system soon. Great acquisition. We have been having water problems with all the heavy rains these last few weeks. Every storm in the Caribbean disrupts our peaceful existence down here.

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