A Week Without Running Water

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

We recently traveled to a camp site up in the mountains in New Mexico.  The website indicated the area would have potable water, but when we arrived, we found it did not actually have potable water.   Fortunately, we had brought a water filter “just in case”

Here are some lessons learned from spending a week without running water.

Refillable containers become really, really important

We brought a five gallon collapsible water container which held up very well.  In addition, empty water and bottles, pots and pans were also used in the process of filtering water.

First, we filled a large pot with the unfiltered water.  Then, we filtered the water into the five gallon water container until it got full.  We then filled several water bottles as well.

A good water purifier is essential

As mentioned, we did not expect to have to purify water, but were glad we had brought our First Need Purifier.  We have used this in several camping and backpacking trips and it has never failed.  What I like about it is it removes viruses, bacteria and protozoa, as well as organic and inorganic chemical and aesthetic contaminants.   It is a hand pump/gravity feed purifier.

You use more water than you think.

Clean water is needed not only for drinking, but for cooking, making coffee and other beverages and even brushing your teeth.  We were fine with using the non potable water for washing dishes, cleaning and sponge baths.

You’ll have to take turns collecting water and purifying it.

It takes a good chunk of time to collect water and purify it, and your hands get tired using the hand pump so it is best to take turns with this chore.

Camp showers are great to have

Not having access to a real shower, we used a camp shower which was a treat after days of sponge baths.

Water is heavy

Having to transport water from one place to another gets very tiring.  Each gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, plus the weight of the container.  So five gallons would weigh 41.7 pounds plus a couple of pounds for the container.

Having extra hand sanitizing gel is a blessing

When you have a finite amount of water on hand until you have to collect it again, you don’t want to use more than you need to.  Hands get very grimy at camp so I found myself reaching for the hand sanitizing gel when I needed to clean my hands.

You learn to appreciate safe tap water.

After a few days, you realize the tap water we all take for granted.  It it were to dry up for an extended period of time, we would all be in trouble so we really need to store more water.

© Apartment Prepper 2016




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  1. Based on my first three years in Arkansas without running water (or power):

    1. A water filter is a definite necessity.

    2. Although easy to store when empty, I found full collapsible water containers to be somewhat awkward to carry any distance. They also didn’t hold up very well to any kind of rough use. (Quality may have improved over the years, however.)

    3. Camp “solar” showers are somewhat okay. However, if you think about it, they don’t work too well in the winter. I used a camp shower made by ZODI (zodi.com) that was propane-fired and had its own battery-operated pump. Since my camp stove and heater also operated on propane, fuel wasn’t an issue.
    If I was going to do the same thing today, I’d add a small solar panel and rechargeable batteries for use with the shower pump.

    1. I can imagine the camp solar shower not working well in winter. Fortunately it was around 70s in the day so there was no issue with them. Good to know about the zodi propane fired one though. Thanks for the comment!

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