07:48 – There was a large chemical spill in West Virginia yesterday. The chemical in question is relatively benign even in concentrated form, but authorities have ordered the 200,000 residents of the nine affected counties not to use tap water for any purpose, including washing clothes. Presumably it’s still okay for them to flush their toilets. No word on how long the prohibition is likely to last.
Of course, panic buying started as soon as the announcement was made, with long lines forming at every convenience store, supermarket, and other vendor who sold bottled water. I suspect the store shelves emptied within a few minutes of the announcement. Events like this are one of the reasons we keep a lot of stored water on hand, at least one person-year’s worth. Call it 500 liters. Not that we’re likely to need that much for any one event, but I want to keep sufficient on hand to supply not just us but family, friends, and neighbors. A large percentage of that is still in the form of 2- and 3-liter soft drink bottles filled with tap water, but we’re gradually replacing that with cases of bottled water from Costco, about 150 liters so far.