Are You Ready for a Long-Term Water Emergency?

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

Are you truly prepared for a water emergency?

How long could your family survive if the water stopped flowing from the municipal supply and none was available at the store? If the answer is not “indefinitely” then you need to check out my book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.

This comprehensive book contains life-saving information about how to:

  • Store fresh water
  • Collect rainwater
  • Purify water from lakes and rivers
  • Dig a well for groundwater

In addition to harvesting water, you’ll gain the tools to keep large stores untainted for long periods of time, test the water you collect for dangerous toxins, and treat water-related illnesses that are commonly contracted during a disaster.

This book is very research heavy, with the latest in-depth information about the contaminants lurking in our water supplies and water-borne illnesses, as well as tips for conservation and sanitation during times when your lifestyle is decidedly off-grid.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide

If you’ve been prepping for a while, you’ve probably heard of the survivalist’s “Rule of Three.”  You can survive:

Three minutes without air.

Three days without water.

Three weeks without food.

If a disaster has hit and you’re still breathing, then your next concern has got to be water.

Have you ever watched any of those survival shows on the Discovery Channel where people are dropped off in the middle of nowhere and left to survive with limited tools and supplies? In nearly every single episode, the biggest issue is finding and purifying water. Often, they wait so long that they become desperate and engage in risky behavior, like drinking water from a stagnant pool. In one particularly notable episode, the contestants had to be rescued because they became too weak from dehydration to seek water.

  • You don’t have to be a contestant on a survival show or a survivor of a major disaster to require a water supply or a way to acquire it. There are a myriad of smaller issues that can spiral into a personal disaster if you don’t have supplies on hand. What if:
  • Your car broke down when you were driving through the desert and you had to wait or walk for help? Without water you could dehydrate very quickly in hot temperatures.
  • You forgot or didn’t have the money to pay the water bill and your utilities were cut off for a week?
  • Your community was under a water restriction due to contamination of the water supply?
  • The power went out and your home was on well water, thus halting your running water until the electricity was restored?
  • You were out hiking and got lost, then were forced to spend a few nights in the woods with only the supplies in your daypack?

As you can see, those random occurrences that happen out of the blue can strike anyone at any time.

(Looking for information on how to evacuate from your urban home in an emergency? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide.)

When water is limited, chaos erupts.

It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just go to the store and grab a few bottles,” but when everyone else in your area has the same idea, it doesn’t take long for the shelves to clear, potentially leaving you and your family without water.

Back in 2010, a water main broke in Boston, Massachusetts. The resulting leak flooded into the Charles River, and officials were forced to use the untreated backup reservoirs. A state of emergency was declared, a boil order was announced, and absolute chaos erupted as more than two million people suddenly found themselves without running water. A local news outlet reported:

The run on bottled water caused near panic at some stores throughout the Boston area Saturday night.

At the BJ’s in Revere, the crowd got so big and the rush for water so intense that police were called in. In order to maintain control of an unruly crowd, the store was shut down for the night.

Shortly after residents in Boston received an emergency call warning them of the water crisis, supermarket aisles stocked with water were quickly wiped out.

“They are fighting over it, literally fighting over water,” said a customer at the Roche Bros. in West Roxbury. “I just had to fight my way through the aisles ’cause it’s crazy in there.”

“Not since Blizzard of ’78 have I seen something like this,” said the store manager. “New shipments that arrived were gone within seconds.”

In Coolidge Corner in Brookline, long lines formed at Trader Joe’s, CVS, and Walgreens for any kind of bottled water, including sparkling and pricey designer bottles.

The Governor of Massachusetts was able to lift the boil order a mere three days later, but during that short span, the National Guard was dispatched to deliver water, businesses were called upon to increase the water inventory brought to the local stores, and many restaurants were forced to close their doors due to the lack of safe drinking water.

You’re going to need more water than you think.

Even if you are able to jostle your way to the front of the line and victoriously snag the last 24-pack of individual water bottles, if the situation lasts longer than expected, that paltry amount is not going to see you through it.

Why not? Because on average, the expected rate of consumption is one gallon per person per day. That doesn’t include consumption for pets or what you’ll use for sanitation. If the situations persists for more than a couple of days, you’re going to need to bathe, clean, and wash dishes. Not only that, but you’ll have to figure out a safe way to dispose of human waste.

The water that you store for your family should be enough to see all members of the household through a two-week period without running water. This is the bare minimum supply you should have on hand.

(Want uninterrupted access to The Organic Prepper? Check out our paid-subscription newsletter.)

What if the situation persists for more than a few days?

Sometimes, even an abundant stored water supply isn’t enough. In more dire situations, water supplies can be interrupted indefinitely.

Do you remember the earthquake that devastated Haiti? That unexpected natural disaster took place in 2010, and some areas still do not have running water five years later. Five years. There’s no way a person could store enough water to last for that long, so the people affected have had to completely change their way of life. They’ve had to learn how to acquire water for their needs, how to purify it so it doesn’t make them sick, and how to conserve the limited amount they have available.

 Finding water isn’t enough.

Did you know that oftentimes, more people die in the aftermath of a disaster than in the disaster itself? And the number one cause of death? Contaminated water.

If you are thirsty—truly, desperately thirsty—it’s human nature to drink whatever is available because your imminent demise from dehydration is more concerning to you than the pathogens in that dirty water you are gulping down.

But drinking contaminated water can lead to a host of dreaded diseases like dysentery, hepatitis A, viral gastroenteritis, cholera, shigellosis, typhoid, diphtheria, and polio.  Just one person handling personal waste improperly can contaminate the water supply for hundreds, even thousands, of other people downstream from them.

Fresh water is your most vital prep.

Whether you are just getting started in the preparedness lifestyle or you’ve been at it for a long time, there’s always something new to learn about water. There’s just so much information about water that it deserves its own book, instead of just one chapter in a general preparedness guide.  Aside from air, it is the most vital element of human survival. In this essential guide, you’ll learn that:

  • You must store a substantial supply, but it isn’t enough to just store it.
  • You must know how to acquire it in case your stores run out.
  • You must know how to make it safe to drink.
  • You must know what could be lurking in your water in order to combat it.
  • You must know how to conserve the water, because you have to make the water you acquire last until you can get more.
  • You must know enough about basic sanitation to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

What’s more, a water supply and source aren’t only important during disasters. It’s vital to know about the things that could be lurking in your water even if it assumedly flows safely from your taps. Municipal water supplies and wells can contain things you’d rather not consume. Sometimes these contaminants are mild and only cause issues when consumed over a long period. Other times, the contaminants can make a susceptible person ill almost immediately.

There is nothing you can store that is more valuable than water or the means to purify water. There is no greater preparedness measure that you can take than that of securing a safe, abundant source of water. Without this one vital element that makes up 50 to 70 percent of your body, you’re as good as dead.

This could be the most important preparedness information you ever read.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource is a #1 new release on Amazon and is also available at Barnes and Noble.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • A small drip plastic bottle, with either bleach or food grade hydrogen peroxide, is very handle also.For purification

  • All is apparently very well with you Daisy. Yep, water in large and consistent quantity will “make or break” most in the Long-run. Storage is good…the availability of a long term and consistent source will be critical. I live on a lake. Filter, boil, or steam distill. For long-term consumption, I don’t favor “chemical” disinfecting of my consumption source of water. Excellent reminder of what matters most in EVERYONE’S preps. Onward through the fog!

    • I agree on the chemical thing. I filter out the chlorine and fluoride as well as many minerals like iron and calcium from my tap water, purely for health reasons. Where I live the water is not very good to begin with. Although that is true and even worse in most of USA ! But we do have an abundance of it, at least for now.

  • Hi Daisy,

    This teaser was so good that I have ordered your book! I have recently constructed a 2-stage bio-sand water filter with charcoal in the second stage. I did this initially because it seemed like a good project. Since I’ve finished it I think it is a good backup in case the water supply becomes contaminated. It takes about 4 weeks for the bacteria colony to become established, so this needs to be taken into account in planning. Here is the link to a youtube presentation on constructing one:


  • RE: Haiti… those w running water still have to sanitize. Powdered bleach is common. Those who can afford it buy 5gal jugs of filtered water. Note Thu folks here, liquid bleach breaks down over time. Powdered, when stored appropriately, lasts indefinitely and a little makes a LOT of liquid bleach!

    • Agree chlorine is also easily removed with simple coconut charcoal as well as many other VOCs. The most cost effective method by far and removes odors that ceramic and plastic fiber will not . It also does not plug up and they both do, rather easily, with less than pristine tap water, like a lake, river, pond etc.

      So yes you could use chems and easily filter it back out. Or simply boil it and then filter it. I use a two part method . One to get out the floaters with a paper filter and another with Coconut charcoal to get out odors and VOCs. Incredibly effective !

    • I lived in Haiti for 3 years ‘tween 86 and 89. Back then, most peasants (most of the population) bathed, drank, washed clothes, and did business in the gutters on the roadside. Clean water was largely unheard of. Even my high roller house – connected to city supply was always questionable. NGO’s installed a deep well one year, but it was capped because it didn’t meet EPA standards for mineral content … too much of some natural chemical … so the locals went back to drinking out of the gutters – disease and all. Aren’t we a marvelous savior people?

      • Shouldn’t the EPA have some rule that if the alternative is even worse, they don’t shut down things?

    • “Powdered, when stored appropriately”

      cholrine in any form emits caustic gasses. storing it properly includes keeping it away from anything that those gasses might damage or corrode, such as metals.

  • Looks like an interesting book. We’re lucky enough to live on a rural property down south where we can collect rainwater. we have 60 gallon “olive barrels” at the corners of each outbuilding and an 1100 gallon main tank off the cabin. Recently I discovered the ideal (I think) purifier …. it’s a Sawyer “Point Zero Two” – around $100 at ( …. this filter cleans out everything down to 0.02 microns …. and that includes bacteria, protozoa, and some viruses. It’s also rated for more gallons than a small city would use. So, this type of purifier and a bit of calcium hypochlorite for final clean up should provide all the safe water you could want. I have also built a filtering unit mounted on a hand-truck that can handle 500 gallons per hour. If anyone is interested, I can provide details. Thanks Daisy!

  • Excellent guide posted here. Water is vital in a survival situation. Knowing how to get it and store it is of the utmost importance. When collecting rain water, it is useful to have chlorine on hand to help keep the water supply sanitized and free from algae,etc. Thanks for sharing this valuable resource!

  • I see that The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest Treat and Store Your Most Vital Resource, is available on so I am assuming that the link to a pdf/ebook on is not a valid source of your information. Is that correct?

    • No, it’s not. Thank you for letting me know. That is a website that steals books under copyright.

  • Everything has its limitations.we can only store and treat so much water.So as with everything else do the best you can.I get what I get what Daisy is saying but we can only store so much water because of lack of space and containers to store it in.We all know we cannot survive longer than 3 days without water.I have her book.After That face it Its all over and thats reality.So no need for panic!

  • I have been recommending to folks in the suburbs to buy a cistern (prices going up of course) and enough downspout and materials and put the cistern in the garage (to keep it out of sight, and it has to be on a firm base anyway free of rocks or sticks or other debris that could rupture it once its full and heavy). Get the cistern situated and fill with garden hose, then set up your downspout materials (may have to build a route through a man door or window) so that precipitation refills the cistern as necessary. Its one way to at least have some volume water storage right away. If you put it outside you have to build a base with either concrete or sand. There’s vids on the internet that can show you how to do it. Other considerations: birds poop on your roof, so catchment water will still need to be purified OWOTO, if you live in a windy area, prefiltering catchment water before it gets to the cistern might be a good idea, and buy the pvc plumbing you’ll need i.e. a ball valve, adapters and short lengths of threaded pipe (called nipples) that will attach at the bottom drain port (which comes pre threaded and with a plug) so that getting the water out of the cistern is simple and can be done without creating waste or contamination. Having a level and a line level will be helpful so that you can be sure all your downspouting will drain properly if you have long stretches of horizontal to run.

  • Some historical notes:

    The reason that Jim Bowie was at the Alamo at the time of that infamous siege by Santa Ana was that he had just lost his wife and kids to cholera there in San Antonio.

    Another little known bit of history was in the early stages of World War II when President FDR sent the American WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker on a mission to carry a message to General MacArthur in the South Pacific. His pilot got lost and ran out of fuel and so had to ditch in the ocean. That left 3 rafts full of guys to improvise to make drinkable water and catch fish for the 21 days before they would be rescued. One result of that scary experience was that Rickenbacker’s recommendation was that all pilots must have survival kits that included a way to distill ocean salt water (or any other contaminated water) — which then saved countless lives.

    In our era there are regions along the US/Mexico border where there is much salt contamination in the local water table. So many families have been taught how to build a DIY passive solar water distiller that’s about the size of a standard pool table but with a clear glass top on a slight slant. With water proofing inside and PVC tubing, the sun heat can vaporize the dirtiest water on earth. It then condenses on the underside of that glass lid and then drips by gravity to the lowest edge and then into a PVC catch tube. That tube then funnels that super clean water into whatever catch basin the family uses.

    It’s not a portable system, but there are backpackable distillers shown on YouTube for one’s camping or hiking needs. While there is some discussion on YouTube for the large family sized slant top pool table design, the best how-to discussion is in Sharon Buydens’ book as seen here:

    DIY: How to Build a Solar Water Distiller: Do It Yourself – How to Purify Water Via a Non-Electric Solar Still at Home, by Sharon Buydens

    A final thought: The Boy Scout organization has always had good instruction on knot-tying and their manuals are for sale to the general public.

    Key words to remember: non-electric passive solar water distiller system


  • If the water table in your area is less than 25’, then you can drive a “sand point” well. Lots of videos are available that demonstrates most anyone can do it.

  • Anyone see the recent article about Lake Mead 150ft from “dead pool” status? The one with the pics of the speed boat.

  • This was a good article for as far as it goes.

    But the Three Rules of Survival, are Bullshit.
    In any area, anything over 90 degrees with a high humidity level, can be problematic (as in, can kill you), in dry conditions at over 100+ degrees, you will not survive 3 days without water, you probable will not survive 3 hours before dehydration starts to affect your ability to function, with death soon to follow it. So people should quit quoting this stupid stuff.

    The next problem is not in finding water so much, as securing it after SHTF. Although finding a good supply of water, is one of the first steps.
    In Cities; gangs will soon realize that water is more valuable than gold. Out in the old West many “Range wars” were fought over “water rights”. Securing your access to water or your water supplies is as important as any other aspect.
    If you “collect rainwater” what is your plan to keep thieves from draining it?
    Or what if they just shoot holes in you cistern to drain it? In order to force you to surrender?

    So just because you find or have a water source now, it does not mean it will still be available after SHTF; Surface water can be diverted or dammed up, Additional wells being dug or larger amounts of water withdrawn from existing wells, can substantially drop the water table, making your well go dry, and relying on the weather for rain, can be a risky proposition.

    So beware on what source you think you will rely on for water after SHTF, as it might no longer be available to you.

    • Of course in extreme conditions things get more problematic. That is obvious.
      However, if we are taking the US as a whole (lower 48), the average temperature is 54 degrees (source: NOAA). So, yes, the rule of three would be more accurate then citing some one off extreme.

      After SHTF, how does one divert water or build a significant dam? Dig a well? Ever try it with a shovel and pickax? I did to clear out a drainage ditch. I got about 30 yards over 5 days, and then called for a really big excavator to do the other 150yrds in about an hour and a half. Had the pond dug out too.

      I had our second well dug. It required a backhoe, well tile, stone of the softball to bowling ball size, about a ton of it. Again, after SHTF, how does one go about getting all those items? The heavy machinery to dig, heavy machinery to deliver the stone, the means to move that stone, the heavy machinery to deliver and move the well tile?
      If you have not done it now, pre-SHTF, the odds of getting that kind of thing accomplished post-SHTF are of the getting struck by lighting, or shark attack in Kansas kind.

      • Depends entirely on you soil and subsoil. I am in the MO Ozarks and almost no one is going to dig 200 foot plus by hand in this soil. Perhaps if you are river or creek side it could be done. Somewhere where the water table is 50 feet or less.

      • “the rule of three would be more accurate then citing some one off extreme”

        it’s neither one-off nor extreme. while some localities are pleasantly temperate almost all the time, the “three hours without shelter” rule is valid almost everywhere in winter and lots of places in summer during common weather conditions.

        three minutes without air
        three hours without shelter
        three days without water
        three weeks without food

  • Our dug well is 55 years old. In the almost 40 years we have lived here, it has never gone dry.
    Backup propane genset is probably good for a month or so of steady use. More with limited use. Everyone around here runs gens at power outages.
    Have plenty of buckets and rope.
    Can’t really say we are ready for SHTF, but we keep trying.

  • Diversity is key. You would do well to have several water strategies.

    I used a Water-BOB in my bathtub during a huge winter storm in which water was cut off. I, thankfully, saw this possibility and filled up my Water-BOB prior to the shutoff, giving my family about 100 gallons of fresh, clean water that we could pump out as needed.

    You should also keep hypochlorite powder on hand. Several small bottles is enough to purify several swimming pools of water. Make sure it’s pure and does not have fillers.

    Burkey water filters with silver infused filters can purify large quantities of water.

    Personal water straws or filtering water bottles are good in a pinch.

    You can build your own large gravity filters (ahead of time) with instructions from the internet. You can improvise one with sand and charcoal and a few other items.

    I keep a fire hydrant wrench in my garage. With it you can open up a hydrant at a low elevation and access water that won’t flow to taps during in outage.

    You should also have a good cart, like a gorilla cart with solid no-flat wheels and buckets for transporting water from a nearby pond or other source.

    You should also have a means of self-defense and keep a low profile in a severe, prolonged shortage. I try to have over-capacity so that I can be friendly with neighbors and work together sharing resources. And on that note, go ahead and invite your neighbors over for burgers and hot dogs. It is far better to have friendly neighbors who want you to succeed than distant neighbors who might work against you.

    Another item, for cooking and water boiling, is a portable stove that is built to use dry twigs, grass, leaves or whatever you can find to cook. This is for after you run out of propane, etc.

    Always keep improving a little here and a little there as time passes. Good preparation is a long-term practice. Also, be a student of preparedness. You can always learn more and get better.

  • We don’t have a source of water if/when shtf yet. We’re trying to find land with some source of water but it’s been difficult to find anything within a reasonable driving distance. For now we plan to get a couple rain barrels. We do have a 2 water bobs we can fill up and have several 4 galling jugs of water stored. We use a Berkey filter and have stocked up on extra filters along with a Berkey travel bottle for each of us. We also have several life straws for on the go. We have a long way to go but I feel like we’d be good for some time.

  • I realized sometime back that the #1 limit to our long-term survival here is access to water. I stored up some water, probably enough to last us about a month, then ran out of containers and places to put them. There is no nearby surface water, so that is out of the question. The water table is over 100 feet down. We can’t count on rain. The municipal well is walking distance away. If the municipal water well can’t get power, then we have no choice but to evacuate. At least we have family not too far away who has a well.

    • “If the municipal water well can’t get power, then we have no choice but to evacuate”

      this is the situation for .9 of the population.

      “At least we have family not too far away who has a well”

      and they’ll have hundreds of new neighbors.

      • Runt7,
        According the USGS, in 2015 283 million people were dependent on public supplied water.
        That would be about 87% of the US population.

  • Timely article. Our small Texas town is currently under water restrictions after 6/8 wells ran dry. Wells are not affected, only residents on city water. They began trucking water in from Houston 2 days ago. A boil alert went into effect a week ago. A small, local restaurant is boiling water for tourists margaritas! No one knows when, where or for how long the water is turned off. So here’s our plan:
    We have an old cistern that pulls water from our well. Wells needs electricity to pump the water up to the cistern but we have a gas generator & also a 500 gallon gas tank. The cistern is about 30 feet high and gravity feeds the water into the house. Not a lot of water pressure but nice to flush toilets and running water. Swimming pools are backup water storage. We live near a river, but water is super HEAVY to transport. Also have 10 – 5 gallon plastic water jugs just in case. Lots of cases of bottled water, but a family can run through 2 cases in a single day.
    God bless y’all!

  • I find that washing dishes consumes a LOT of water when you are cooking from scratch. Lost my well pump for 30 days last year. The learning was a blessing in disguise.

    Personal hygiene does not take much water, and I consume a gallon in my food and drink, perhaps 1.5 gallons on a hot day.

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive

    In the event of a long-term disaster, there are non-food essentials that can be vital to your survival and well-being. Make certain you have these 50 non-food stockpile essentials. Sign up for your FREE report and get prepared.

    We respect your privacy.
    Malcare WordPress Security