Editor’s Note: You’ve probably read recently that Venezuelans are struggling now with access to power and water. On Bloomberg today, there’s an excellent article that discusses the struggles that residents of Caracas are experiencing now that there is no longer running water. This follows a recent article in which soldiers took over the public spigots and forced the thirsty people to pay to fill their buckets and containers. Those without electricity have resorted to eating spoiled meat. It’s a living nightmare in that country. In today’s timely article, Jose discusses some of his recommendations for those preparing for a world without power and water. ~ Daisy
This is one of the expressions that called my attention recently. The recent events of past years had made me put some thought into it, and now the access to power and water, with the grid being in their last stage seems more important than ever.
We have huge resources, but the needed money for the investments have been ransacked by that mafia disguised as politicians. Therefore, those without some means of energy generation are going to face drastic changes in their comfort. Not just lighting, but being able to pump the water from whatever this is being taken from.
In an urban environment this is particularly tough to do; my house does not have plenty of space, but before I could dispose of the needed financial resources, the crisis worsened and the income was insufficient for improvements like a bigger tank (we have just a small 1200 liters tank mounted over a cement column like everyone else), water collection system (albeit we have a fair quota of rainwater) from the roof would have been nice even though this would consume lots of floor space in our already small backyard.
But being able to use the toilets continuously without a second thought about wasting water for cooking, drinking, and showering would have definitely been worth it.
This is much more important than what we could think of: if things go so bad that you don’t have running water, carrying a bucket to flush is going to be annoying, stressful, time-consuming, and a pain (and it is inelegant, too). Trust me. I can foresee a huge increase in the pricing of the services, like power and water. They will have to reach their equilibrium point once the economy comes back to normality, and these were never cheap in our former Venezuela.
Some of the things we could have done for power and water
Using rainwater for the toilets is going to save us tons of hard earned money, and environmentally is going to be much friendlier. Even for things like car washing, after a simple filtering and settling. Nowadays, we have no water counters. There is a fee for the service, which means that, if the service fails, there is no way to complain, because the fees are so low that it would be considered un-polite to do so. Yes, there is a lot to fix in our economy.
We usually don’t shower with warm water. This, in a tropical country like ours, is not exactly necessary, but everyone knows how relaxing a warm shower can be, after getting wet in the rain while riding a motorcycle, for instance. Wind can lower your body temperature and make you prone to colds and flu, something to be avoided because they could complicate things.
And if you are going to sleep with air conditioning (something that is indeed a need down here) then, yes, you need warm water sometimes because in the rainy season the efficiency of the A/C system increases and bedrooms can get very fresh or even cold. This could be achieved with a solar collector; there are plenty of educational how to’s videos in the web.
The first time I heard the term “water investment” my thoughts immediately fled to a good filtering system. I tested a popular system here in a shop and the results are excellent. Carbon activated, stones with silver, micro-filtering, the whole package. I have been using a cheap single-element filter since I arrived and so far so good. Once I can get my paws in enough cash to acquire one of these, I will be very happy.
Our water back in my former town comes from wells and it is quite heavy, something that I suspect is somehow related with some laziness of my younger kid’s belly. He is quite better here, though.
I have been told by my acquaintances there that people have been complaining about being without power for most of the day, and therefore without water. When asked why they have not yet traded some of their stuff by some good solar panels (these items can still be found in Venezuela if you have the money) and some used car batteries (an item that is not easy to find any longer because the military-“managed” Duncan batteries factory demands to give the old battery when you buy a new one) and perhaps an inverter to run some lights and a fan, I receive the most imaginative evasive answers. No wonder why they are suffering.
Recommended cooking methods
One of my relatives recently, albeit being with the flu, had to spend hours under the persistent rain to buy bottled gas for cooking. In their area, the power grid is still working reasonably so I told him to trade some of his less used equipment (mostly electrical workshop) to get the resources for getting an induction kitchen. This technology is much safer, reliable and efficient than the resistive devices, and I can recommend it because we used both, and the results were that the resistance single stove kitchen was forever stashed. If the need arises we have a wood stove and a plastic roof that we can set up in our backyard for cooking.
I would like to mention (again?) the importance of a dedicated system just for boiling water, not just heating, that you can put to work in a blink, with a high efficiency, and that can burn different materials. Firewood, homemade briquettes, dirty rags, and any possible combination of combustibles.
Why? Because it is unlikely that you are going to have bottled gas or even electricity if things get bad enough. I won’t get into details about how to plug that thing into your water feeding system because I never did it, but I talk about it because we need it. Whatever it is for cooking or showering. If you get creative with it and have basic skills I am sure that the results will be pretty interesting, and affordable. Go surf the net and you will enjoy all the things you will find.
The ideal setup for power and water
Recently I came across a guy that had bought some land in the jungle area. He told me that he built a filter with some quite available materials like charcoal and coconut fiber, some very clean sand and the results were outstanding. The lab approved the water for safe drinking even though it came from a stream in the jungle, and that is remarkable to me because there was no need to do some chemical treatment (I hate things that live inside people, and I am a big fan of anti-parasitic medication).
He just channeled the water through the filter, and through a pipe inside his house. No pumping needed of any kind. He made it like this because of…guess what? He did not have any money for solar power, battery rack, pumps, and other stuff that we BELIEVE will be needed.
Of course, I know about the iconic view of the farms in the USA with the windmills to pump underground water. Again, there are lots of videos about cheap arrangements that can be useful and affordable. I would go with a large tank, as big as I could afford, and a small pumping system to start.
But to me, the best bet would be land with access to a year-around stream. You don’t have to live there if you don’t want, though. But it would be an investment that could provide food, water, and even energy investing wisely in that new equipment that is all over the internet: high-efficiency on-stream turbines that don’t affect the life of the organisms in the water, and that you could conceal without much trouble. Wiring that into a Pinzgauer with a camper, and added to another towing camper trailer, and you should be set for dealing with undesirable circumstances, provided that you are far away enough of any densely populated places. And this is another topic that has been increasingly bad in these last few months. But we will stay on the water topic.
Those with land enough for a small dam will have a huge resource that is going to be a real asset. You could even build (as I saw once) a small cabin, properly concealed in a patch of land, a small artificial island in the middle of a lagoon. Quite interesting and offers lots of possibilities. If you need, for any reason, to isolate yourself, this could be an option.
I look forward to your thoughts and feedback about power and water!
Note from Jose:
Thanks for your attention, and your much-needed assistance in these hard times fellows. I have received with humility and with love in my heart, and a sincere gratitude, all the contributions you have done, and I pray to God so you can receive it back in health, love, and prosperity in the future for you and your beloved ones.
See you in the next article!.