Thursday, 16 April 2015

08:15 – We’re supposed to have another cool wet day, pretty much like yesterday, with the high never making it above the mid-50’s (13C). And the rest of the week is to be similar, if a bit warmer.

The rain patterns around here are why I don’t worry too much about emergency water supplies. If necessary, we can harvest rainwater just by putting containers under each downspout. It’s a very rare month around here when we don’t get at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) of rain, and 4 or 5 inches is common. A typical 30×60 foot ranch house has 1800 square feet of roof, so three inches of rain is 450 cubic feet of water, or better than 3,000 gallons. Call it 100 gallons per day on average. That’s about what we normally use for all purposes, including drinking, cooking, showering, laundry, washing cars, watering the lawn, etc.

Storing it wouldn’t be a problem. We have three 96-gallon rolling bins–one each for recycling, garbage, and yard waste–that could easily be washed out and sterilized with bleach. We also have 30+ plastic storage bins that average about 12 gallons each, and a bunch of 5-gallon pails that could be used to transfer water in manageable quantities among larger containers. And I have what we need to build a pre-filter that can handle thousands of gallons a month as well as a high-volume 0.02 micron filter (which stops even viruses) and chlorine bleach and other chemicals needed to treat the water to better than municipal standards. And, should we need to do so, I can do commercial grade coliform testing. It’d be a lot of work, but we certainly wouldn’t have a problem keeping ourselves in safe water.

38 thoughts on “Thursday, 16 April 2015”

  1. Excellent on the water. Now if you could perfect the dehydration process, you could easily mail large quantities to us in the desert 🙂

  2. I know you are storing water, so I’ll just throw it out that the water coming from the sky could be contaminated. Or your roof could be contaminated. Dirty bomb is one consideration, chemical release, another. Or simply toxic soot from all the fires. Even simple structure fires put of a ton of toxics. LA stunk for days after the Rodney King riots.

    It’s basically the same argument against counting on a swimming pool, or open body of water. It doesn’t take much to contaminate it.


    an aside, the shortwave bands are really closed at the moment.

  3. What Mr. nick said about water from the roof; also, the actual material of the roof itself can contaminate the water.

    We also get plenty of rainfall here plus there are countless lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. And that 130-mile-long lake about 100 feet from the front door.

    Sunny with blue skies today and temps in the low 60s. Mrs. OFD will be home from Denver late tomorrow night and then home for next week and her 60th birthday. After that, a week in Greensboro, NC followed immediately by a week in Wichita Falls, TX. Then nothing for the rest of May, which she told her idiot bosses she has to have off. I think she also plans to take the month of August off, which may mean she’ll be driving Grandma up to the cottage in northern New Brunswick and staying there for a week or two. Not sure, though, as Grandma just turned 87 and didn’t do her usual Florida months this past winter. If they do go, though, it’s a good opportunity for wife to recon the area and the cottage itself as a possible suitable last-resort retreat. Small fishing village on the ocean surrounded by cranberry bogs. Inland is a huge area of forests and lakes and lotsa hunting and fishing stuff.

    Assuming everything in our great nay-shun remains more or less copacetic, our goal has been to eventually spend six months of the year up there during the warm weather times and six months here for the fall and winter holidays. Not sure if this goal is still viable, though.

  4. Chemical contamination isn’t really a problem, other than possibly in the very short term. As to the roof material itself, our roof was installed at least five years ago, so any soluble contaminants have long since dissolved and any insoluble ones have been physically washed away.

    A dirty bomb presents a very localized threat. A backpack bomb spreads significant contamination over a radius of maybe 50 to 100 meters. Even an OKC class bomb would spread significant contamination over a radius of perhaps half a mile. The odds of such an event occurring close enough to us to matter are zero to a first approximation. The chances of a Chernobyl scale release in the US are also near zero, and the seriousness of the Fukashima release was grossly overstated by the media. In reality, worst case from Fukashima is a fairly small statistically increased chance of long-term cancers developing over decades. Anyway, in either case, I have redundant radiological instruments that can detect anything above background count.

    As to toxins released in fires and so on, you’re overestimating the actual danger. Being able to smell bad things isn’t really an indicator of risk. The human nose is so sensitive that it can detect toxins with strong odors at levels much below those that present any real risk, even with long-term exposure. Particulates will soon wash away from your roof, as will any soluble contaminants. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s good to have a reasonable supply of stored water. We have something over 1,000 liters stored at the moment, which at 4 liters per day is 250 person-days of water. With the four of us plus Colin, that should suffice for 60 days if necessary.

  5. @RBT, thanks for the info about the toxins.

    Based on my first hand experience I think you are underestimating your water needs. 1 gal/per/day is a really minimal amount for hydration, and cooking. It doesn’t leave much for sanitation or hygiene. Any event which calls on you to do physical things will leave you using more for hydration and hygiene. I know, I know, in a real bad situation you can skip the bathing, but you will want to do something and wet wipes won’t last forever. And you can’t skip it for long without really unpleasant things happening to your skin. Keeping food prep areas clean is vital too.

    It may be different in your area, but here we are most likely to have adverse weather events during the heat of summer. It’s not unusually to drink a gallon of water a day, just doing normal outdoor activities. Add the lack of air conditioning, exposure to filth in the environment, and strenuous exercise, and you will sleep a lot better if you are clean. Adequate sleep is vital for health and emotional resilience esp. during the stress of an event. (and is also damned hard to come by)

    Using storage food generally takes water too. Beans, rice, dehydrateds, all need water. That’s one of the reasons I have the pouch meals, besides lower fuel costs, is lower water needs for preparation.

    Anyway, from the standpoint of ‘been there done that’ after the last event, I dramatically increased our stored water. YMMV, but 1 gal/per/day is the minimum to survive. Thriving takes a lot more. (doesn’t all have to be potable, just be able to make it so.)


  6. Yes. I use 1 gallon or 4 liters per day as a baseline. My goal is to be able to provide at least 5 gallons per day per person, and we have everything necessary to do that except of course for the water itself.

    And a lot of people tend to forget that snow takes time and lots of energy to convert to water. Fortunately, that’s not much of an issue here in Winston-Salem. Even in colder months, we tend to get most of our precipitation in liquid form. Some years we have no measurable amount of frozen precipitation at all, and even in months when we have lots (for us) of snow and ice, we usually get at least some rain.

    Of course, I’ll have to revisit my calculations if we relocate to the western NC mountains. It’s colder there, although there’s still lots of rain throughout the year.

  7. Incidentally, all the captured rain would be prefiltered through a series of 5-gallon pails, one of which contains a bed of charcoal. That goes a long way toward removing VOCs, not to mention all of the particulates and many metal ions.

  8. Since we’re on the topic of water…

    I just read that something like 70% of California’s rainwater ends up in the Pacific Ocean because the strong environmental lobby there has made it nearly impossible to build dams and reservoirs. They’re screaming apocalyptic drought and meanwhile 70% of their rain flows into the Pacific.

  9. Do you have water tanks? My sister had several with a capacity of thousands of litres each attached directly to the downspouts from the roof. She didn’t drink it, but used it for watering the garden, but in an emergency she could easily adapted – with help from the family.

    I’m considering getting water tanks for my garden, as my water bill is just insane.

  10. We often drank tank water when I was in my teens, with basically no filtering. No health dramas that I remember, but I wouldn’t do it now without precautions.

  11. We don’t have such tanks, and I have no intention of buying any. Tankage, whether purchased or built, is very expensive and in our area we simply don’t need that much storage. Also, although it sounds bizarre, in many US jurisdictions it’s actually illegal to harvest rainwater from your own land or even your own roof. You have to let it run off naturally.

  12. @Miles,

    Tanks, yes. I have a wide range of water preps, in addition to half a dozen filters of different types.

    I have 1.75 liter juice bottles refilled with water. They are the perfect family size for grab and go in an emergency.

    I have 7 gal. Aquatainers. With the built in spout, they are the perfect size for a camp kitchen, or family water cooler. They are heavy but it’s still possible to get them in a vehicle for an evacuation.

    I have 40 gal repurposed stainless steel tanks, originally used to import food product to the US. They are filled with potable treated water and inside the garage.

    I have 55 gal food grade plastic drums set up as rainwater collection “for the garden.” They need filtering and/or chlorinating.

    I have a 225 gal plastic storage tank set up as rainwater collection “for the garden.” It is tucked away behind the garage. I use water from it in the garden, and occasionally add to the top. It didn’t take much rain to fill it as I’ve got gutters on 3 sides of the garage feeding it.

    I didn’t pay very much for all that. Per gallon, the aquatainers are the most costly, followed by the stainless tanks, then the 225gal, then the 55 gal drums. Other than the aquatainers, it is all used and surplus. I spent less than $300 total.

    Even buying new, drums and storage tanks aren’t that expensive. I think list for the 225gal is less than $300. Drums are available delivered from Tanks are available widely and at WIDELY varying prices.

    It’s true that some areas restrict rainwater capture. You need to be creative.

    If you wanted to be totally stealthy, you can get decorative rain barrels at most home centers for about $99 in a ~40 gal size. You could make a nice fountain or water feature too. One the size of a kiddie pool would hold 50 gallons. I’ve read about one prepper who put a kiddie pool (bigger soft side one) in his garage, filled and covered it for a LARGE storage tank at very little money.

    If you know a storm is coming, you can fill the bathtub or use a tub liner like the BOB. Same for kiddie or inflatable pools, they are easily stored empty and filled if you have warning.

    @RBT, this is the second time you mentioned filling your trash cans. I respectfully suggest that this is like the idea of siphoning gas from your car. It sounds good but in practice…. Even if cleaned and bleached you are probably better off using a large ‘contractor’ weight trash bag as a liner. And the liner will be a lot easier than cleaning. That said, trash cans (esp the modern roller type) are not really strong enough to hold the water. They will bulge and split. YMMV, but if you think you might have to do this, you should try it out. I was surprised by the result (and then I bought proper tanks.) In a pinch, the low recycling bin (the size of flip top storage crates) work pretty well with a trash bag liner, but 5 gal buckets, with lids are a better backup choice. you can move a lot of water by truck in 5 gal buckets WITH LIDS. They store compactly and are useful for all kinds of other things too.


  13. Here are some examples

    225gallon horizontal round $404 but cheaper elsewhere.

    Rectangular 200 gallon $340

    Lots of people have barrels in the 30-55 gal range from $50-100

    Now there are some specifically aimed at preppers that are a lot more expensive. They are typically listed as fitting thru a door and having high capacities. And if you were to do the same with all aquatainers or waterblox it would be costly indeed.


  14. Yes, I’ve covered all of those issues in the chapter on water for one month through one year. I should probably post out some more draft chapters soon to cut down on how many details I have to post as comments.

    Capture of raw rainwater is one issue, with movement/storage of raw water another, treatment a third, and storage of treated water a fourth. Our 96-gallon bins are rated for 350 pounds, while 96 gallons of water weighs 800 pounds. Yes, filling one would collapse the wheels and axle, rending it immobile. But they’d retain water. I know that from experience, as I’ve seen one full to the brim of water. It was flat on the ground with the wheels squashed and the axle bent and the cart itself was bulged and deformed, but it was still holding water.

  15. “Also, although it sounds bizarre, in many US jurisdictions it’s actually illegal to harvest rainwater from your own land or even your own roof. You have to let it run off naturally.”

    Why? Do they want to harvest the water themselves? Or is it just bureaucracy gone mad?

    An Aussie chap I knew who lived in Virginia Beach had an illegal clothes line in his back yard. Neighbours would peek over the fence to see this strange contraption.

  16. “Why? Do they want to harvest the water themselves? Or is it just bureaucracy gone mad?”

    The second choice.

    “What makes Bill Gates richer than you or me, after all, but some database entries?”
    (from that Cringely link; who’s the chick in that pic?)

    Yeah, it ain’t all backed up by gold anymore; it’s database numbers. Except Billy Boy has his gigantic mansion and Lord knows what else. He’s busy, like Buffet, funneling most of the accrued billions to alleged nonprofits and charities and I doubt it’s all altruism at work. Has to be some chicanery involved; that is how he got those billions in the first place. And no doubt there are peeps out there who can hack into those databases and do whatever. Presumably one of them could wipe out Billy’s billions with a single mouse click.

    “There are countless shops in the cybercrime underground selling data that is especially useful for scammers engaged in tax return fraud. Typically, these shops will identify their wares as “fullz,” which include a consumer’s first name, last name, middle name, email address (and in some cases email password) physical address, phone number, date of birth, and Social Security number.”
    (From Mr. Lynn’s other link.)

    I wish one of the buggers would buy our particular “fullz” and out of the goodness of their black hahts, wipe out our alleged debt and get us nice refunds for the duration of our existence in this vale of tears. Any of y’all out there reading this? Howzabout doing an old unemployed veteran bum a solid?

  17. “… although it sounds bizarre, in many US jurisdictions it’s actually illegal to harvest rainwater from your own land or even your own roof. You have to let it run off naturally.”

    It certainly does sound bizarre to me. I live in Flanders, and here the opposite is the case. One is legally obliged to collect, store and use rainwater where feasible. It’s a condition routinely attached to urbanism and planning permissions for new construction and for renovation works. It’s also forbidden to change the surface water runoff characteristics of one’s property without specific permission – one can’t simply lay tarmacadam over a lawn or suchlike, as that reduces the ability of excess surface rainwater to drain into the soil.

  18. A previous war-criminal President strolled around his Texas ranch holding lands with one of the biggest financiers of the madrassahs in the Sandbox, which continue to spew forth hadji scum by the boxcar load to attack defenseless men, women and children and commit horrific atrocities worldwide.

    The incumbent war-criminal President bum-kisses the buggers every chance he gets, and now he’s put the frosting on the cake with the current regime down in Cuba; los hermanos Castro, who between them have probably imprisoned, tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of their fellow Cubans during their sordid careers there.

  19. Why can’t this happen to me?  I’d probably end up like Mr. Ray five years from now.
    Woman reveals how a ski accident left her with phenomenally-advanced mental abilities after a head injury developed into a rare brain condition known as acquired savant syndrome

    Shortly after her accident, the US-based woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, began to develop extraordinary precise memories
    She is now able to recall exact details about every single place she has ever seen – and can draw a map or diagram of each location and building
    The exact cause of the condition is currently unknown and there are only 50 known cases in the world
    Most sufferers tend to develop remarkable musical, mathematical, or artistic abilities after undergoing some kind of head trauma

  20. I dunno about y’all, but I can afford to do without a whole chit-load of precise memories.

    Which is becoming what they call a “stuck point” in our VA-sponsored PTSD treatment for some of us. Some stuff is popping back out that we didn’t necessarily wanna see popping out again. Memory is a weird and wunnerful thing sometimes, but other times not so much.

    I’ll take either the musical or artistic abilities, though. Next wintuh I’ll head out with Mrs. OFD to the double black diamond slopes she skis on and see if I can’t work up a tree or sumthin to smack into with my hard ol’ noggin.

  21. Also, although it sounds bizarre, in many US jurisdictions it’s actually illegal to harvest rainwater from your own land or even your own roof. You have to let it run off naturally.

    I will have to check to see if it is legal in my area to collect rainwater. Also whether it’s legal to store the output of our sump pump. If it isn’t, I at least need to do something to extend the downspouts say 10 feet from the house.

  22. My direct from China UltraFires arrived today. Inside and out they look just like the Prime one’s except for the labeling. There is a difference in the beams, though. The Primes focus down to a sharp square where the China’s focus to a fuzzy square surrounded by a circle of light (lens’ maybe, they come out BTW). Doesn’t differ when in flood focusing. YMMV. Both models are good enough.

  23. All of mine came from China via slow boat, and all focus to a tight, sharp square.

  24. For libertarians, sci-fi fans, etc.

    “Libertarians, and especially science fiction fans with libertarian leanings, should pay particular attention to the Puppies campaigns. Like last year’s Gamersgate controversy, the Puppies drew a line in the sand–a stopping point in the ongoing culture war between individualists and statists, between the people who believe in freedom of expression and the mindless drones who believe in political correctness.”

  25. I’d probably end up like Mr. Ray five years from now.

    With steady progress you can get there. May not take five years.

    Back to Germany the last half of June. One of our exchange students is having their church wedding in Berlin. This will be trip number 7 to Europe. Plane tickets are purchased, hotel reservation in Berlin, a visit with a new exchange student for 2015-2016, now I need to buy the the DB train tickets. Special pricing for non-European passport holders. Need to get 1st class tickets. Can get tickets good for any 7 days in a 30 day time period on any train for about $500 for both of us.

  26. Hmmmm….food for thought for preppers concerned about firearms/ammo issues:

    12 million rounds of AR ammo per year for five years, eh? Then what do all the hordes of AR owners do for their ammo during those five years, eh? The major ammo manufacturers already have three shifts working with mandatory O.T. seven days a week and they can’t keep up with the demand, of this, and several other calibers. How’s the .22LR situation in YOUR neck of the woods? How ’bout 9mm and .40?

    It may be worth considering the AK family or at least rifles made for that caliber:

  27. The sad puppies campaign has been sadly hilarious. Even G. R. R. Martin has been tilting at windmills. I have been very disappointed in several non-Baen authors. But, I am fairly convinced that even Heinlein would be ridiculed by the incrowd today.

    We’ve gotten about 5 inches of rain today and I am standing in HEB right now. Maybe Houston is turning subtropical again.

  28. @Lynn, we got marble sized hail too. At least a couple of minutes worth, and now we’re under a tornado watch.

    Crazy weather.


  29. We are having the usual 40-50 MPH wind gusts here on the north end of Lake Champlain; this goes on at least once or twice a week ALL YEAR here on the bay. It’s quite the wake-up in the early AM as one exits the rear porch door and faces into it during the wintuh months. In summuh it’s glorious, while only a mile up either road, east or north, it’s sweltering in the 70s.

  30. Apparently we got another five inches of rain tonight for a total of ten inches of rain today. So far as we are predicted to get more rain late tonight and tomorrow.

    The swimming pool at one point was an inch over the back patio. But, the house is nine inches above the pool so we were perfectly safe. Our bayous caught about 15 ft of water and I imagine that they will be starting the 5,000 gpm pumps in the morning to throw all that retained water into the Brazos river. Down-streamers, beware!

    The front pond on the office property has swelled to around three acres from its normal 1/2 acre. No gators though, just one lonely nutria and hundreds of turtles.

  31. Lots of 9mm and .40S&W available here in the Houston area. Just a smidgen of .22 LR.

  32. On ammunition and preparedness. I believe that it is prudent to have some basic cartridge reloading , tools and supplies – they need not be extensive or expensive, plus the know-how to use them. A Lee hand press is a good small tool. Their 2-bullet casting moulds are small, cheap and effective. Lead can easily be scrounged. Primers and powder are the bottlenecks; those should be stocked and on hand. Reloading shotshells is also feasible, but requires addition and/or different tools.

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