WSID? Step 2 - Water

By brighton_roy on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 - 11:11am

This discussion builds on the ideas in Step 2 of the WSID series


Algie's picture
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Water considerations in the UK

First thing to consider here is just how exposed you might be to an interruption of your water supply.  Having full water independency, i.e. your own well or bore-hole would be great but isn't really practicable or affordable for most of us, so for 99.999% of the UK this will be mains water from your local water company.  Generally this is very reliable, particularly in towns and cities.  The two risks I can see here are a prolonged interruption to the electricity supply (most networks will rely on pumping of some form) or industrial action by those responsible for the network.  Given the almost instantaneous impact on the nation's health if we lose mains water, I anticipate TPTB pulling out all the stops to ensure continuity of supply.

For local short-term disruptions (the most likely situation)...

Drinking Water

  • Keep some bottled water at home for drinking.  3 days worth should be enough to cope with most common, non-TEOTWAWKI situations, but more is good.  Keep it stored in the dark and rotate your stocks.
  • To cope with slightly longer interruptions, a gravity-fed ceramic water filter is a good option.  No moving parts to fail and the filters for the one I have last for approx 6 months.  I use this UK source

Other water (washing, watering crops, flushing toilets)

  • It's the UK!  Rain water is normally abundant (although this is getting more erratic in some parts).  The trick is having a system to collect it.  A normal sized waterbutt holds approx 220 litres.  I have one at the moment, but plan to be at 3 x 220 litre waterbutts and 1 x 1000 litre IBC tank by the end of the summer.  Buckets and hoses to move it around are also helpful

Longer term, a basic understanding of the dangers of dirty water and how to treat it (filtering and boiling) should mean that as long as you have a capture system, it should be possible to provide for all your water needs.

Other considerations?

If I had to walk to collect water from a river, etc do I have a container to carry it in that is suitable.  Something like a 40ltr PORTABLE ROLLING CARAVAN MOTORHOME WATER CARRIER fresh clean roly poly would be perfect.  I have a couple of these I use for camping Super Strong 20 ltr Military Water Jerry Can.  Coupled with an old pushchair and we're in business.  How about some hose to set up a syphon?

Do you know where your water supply routes?  If there's roadworks or even an explosion nearby, will it sever your water mains or rupture the local reservoir or storage?  I emailed the local water company and asked them where my water came from and how it routed to me.  I don't have exact details, but I have a rough idea.

Do you know of other local water sources? Rivers, streams, canals.  What might pollute them and how easy would it be to get to a safe place to fill up?  I accidentally found out that the estate near me has at least one underground water cistern that hasn't been used for years, but still holds water that is naturally refreshed



joanne123's picture
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water supplies

as Algie says for most of us in UK mains water is the only real option.  My water comes via a mains system, but originates from a loch nearby, controlled, pumped and 'cleaned' by the local water board, so my supply does ultimately rely on rainfall.  things that would affect it are power cuts (small pumping station) and drought.  Power cuts are quite possible not only because of industrial action etc but weather affects our electricity supply  here as cables are overground - in the past waterboard have been excellent at giving out free bottled water, but that might not always be the case.  One tip for storing water I heard a while back was to 3/4 fill a plastic bottle (PET plastic - check on the bottom of the bottles it should say PET) with water and keep it in your freezer, that way not only do you have water available at short notice but also the bottles help to keep your freezer fuller which makes it more economic to run.  Drought has never been a problem here although this year is the driest here anyone can remember, only 3inches of rain from the middle of April to end of June, so this year I will be installing a simple collection system, probably based on water butts initially, before the winter.  If things get desparate my neighbour has his own small loch, although as Algie points out cleaness of the supply has to be considered, currently his sheep drink out of it so it would need to be filtered and boiled as well I would think, not sure, would have to read up on that.

Also should we consider alongside water - sanitation?  If you rely on mains sewage this has got to be a major problem for most of the population if there is serious disruption of any kind.  Here I'm lucky I have a septic tank system which as long as we are careful what we put into it e.g. nothing nonbiodegradable and not too much in the way of chemicals (as it relies on bacteria to do the job) it pretty much looks after itself.

Fightingback's picture
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Posts: 6

I've been looking at water filters for a while but never actually managing to get anywhere or make a desicion on which one is best for us. Money has also been pretty tight.

I think we are going to go with the gravity filter type  as it will work around a more diverse set of situations than one that fits on the plumbing etc. It wont matter if we have no running water as long as we can find some sort of water. I assume from what I have read the gravity style filters are suitable for that?

We will be running our tap water through it primarily though, the whatever water we could get would be in an emergency only situation. How would this impact the length of time the candles last? it says they last between 6-12 months on most models, so would this be the case whatever water you filtered? or would they last longer if you were only filtering tap water?


Anyway from having a look online (including link given above) it doesn't look like from their descriptions there is alot of difference between the filters. I was leaning more towards this one as its one of the cheaper models. Does this seem like a good buy or would anyone recommend a different one? if so why?

Thank you :)

I think I shall post this on the forum as well as this group seems a little quiet at the moment so appologies to anyone who ends up reading it twice.

jrf29's picture
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Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 453
Re: Filters

I'd go ahead and buy that filter.  Doulton/Berkefeld has a good reputation, and the "Super Sterasyl" ceramic filter elements are very good quality.  This is the same filter that Chris Martenson recommends, incidentally.

Since the performance of any given ceramic filter will depend entirely on the manufacturing processes of the filter in question, every manufacturer must prove the performance of their filter, and I like to see the test results whenever possible.  Here is the rundown on Doulton's filter performance.

In general, ceramic water filters are durable, simple, cheap (relative to the years of service they give you), and highly reliable.  They will effectively purify contaminated drinking water.  The individual filter elements are rated for filtering 1,000 gal. of water but experience by the W.H.O. in Third World countries has shown that such filter elements can realistically filter 5-7 thousand gallons of clear water before needing replacement (due to gradual clogging).  This is enough for many years of reliable daily use.

Still, I'd buy one set of replacement cartridges, even if you don't plan on using the filter much.  The cartridges require removal for periodic cleaning, and are fragile if dropped.


Fightingback's picture
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Posts: 6

Very helpful information there. I plan on buying a supply of filters but as with everything its going to be a case of when we can afford it. :)

chrisr1256's picture
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Joined: Mar 8 2011
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Berkefeld Filter

I bought the Stainless steel version a couple of years back from the same outfit with two spare candles basically as a fallback. Its quite compact and easy to store unassembled. I'd recommend quickly assembling/disassembling it to check it over when you get it mainly for familiarisation and to ensure that nothing appears damaged or missing.

It will take two or 4 filter candles. More candles, the faster the filtering but only relevant if you needed a lot of water. So two at a time would seem sufficient.

I noticed after I purchased it that they also do candles that filter out heavy metals, it might well be worth laying out the extra to have that capability.

From the description given, I assume you could basically run rainwater pre-filtered through sand or muslin to remove any obvious particles through the Berkefeld filter. Though I've not attempted to actually run water through it on the assumption that once you get the filters wet you basically keep using them until they stop working to avoid anything growing in them.

If someone has used one in the field as it were, perhaps they could comment.




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