Water barrel issues
I watched their video and it seems that this is basically a dehumidifier with some added filtration. We have two standard dehumidifiers on our property and use them sparingly because they are very high energy draws. They produce a lot of water and I would not hesitate to drink it in an emergency with a little filtration, added chlorine, or running it through a UV light.
Water collected from any dehumidifier is technically distilled water in that it does contain few of the minerals and other particulates that are removed in a true distillation process. However, a true distillation process condenses the steam of boiled water, and the boiling process kills any microbes and fungi that may be present in the pre-distilled water. Dehumidifiers are also not kept to a state of cleanliness required for food-grade standards (drinking water usually has very high legal requirements). The collected water is therefore not considered safe to drink. Also, as the water may sit for a while in the collection bucket, the water may be quite stale, in particular with fungus collected from aerial spores."
We have 3,000 gallon tanks manufactured by Norwesco and labeled for Potable Water. After 14 years they are as good as new. We paint the exterior to block light from coming in. (Although they are black, you can see light when you stand inside one). Newer tank designs are better at shielding light. We have 45,000 gallons of total storage and use the water in our house after double filtration and UV sterilization.
Rain barrels will grow all sorts of nastiness, but I've never seen any evidence that it is toxic, i.e. our animals drink from them all the time. I won't be testing it on myself, however. Areas with racoon populations should think long and hard about even using collected rainwater for anything but landscape watering-
The water in rain barrels may pose a threat if you drink it without making sure that it is safe. No one should do it. If you want to save or store water on this types of container make sure that you regularly clean it. If it's not used for drinking you can use it for watering the plants instead. Taking care of the garden and tending to the lawn also consumes water. 🙂
In my opinion, it's always better not to drink water stored in plastic cans. But, we are available with water in plastic cans when we are in public. So we may be forced to drink it. In our houses, make sure we drink pure water stored in sterilized cans or clean steel pots.
My little opinions for water storage:
- For human drinking water use only bottles meant for drinking water. Best is crystal-clear "stackable" Poland Spring 3-liter bottles. Convenient and space efficient. $1/bottle at some supermarkets. If using this for storing other water sources: mark the year with a Sharpie. Then every January, crumple and recycle the bottles more than 1 year old. I.e. total cost is not much and you can reuse them for about 1-2 years. It boggles my mind why anybody would want to store drinking water in huge barrels that are difficult if not impossible to work with and to clean properly and must be re-used for years to justify the cost and bother. Well for cattle alright that's a different matter.
- For passive solar heat storage: the same stackable crystal-clear 3-liter bottles. To maximize heat collection, buy a small can of black paint coloring at any hardware or paint store. The kind they use to mix custom colors–without the paint. Add a dash to each Poland Spring 3-liter bottle–so the water is grey. Stack up in any unused space in any greenhouse. Also maybe build shelves along the back wall just to stack as many of these as possible.
- GSE to preserve non-drinking and non-plant-watering water. If you want a totally nontoxic way to stop water from possibly getting gross after years, add to each bottle a little squirt of GSE Grapefruit Seed Extract. (Best price is if bought by the gallon but make sure it is name brand "Nutribiotic." Not the Ebay stuff that is unknown quality.) But do not drink this water and do not use GSE to sterilize drinking water. For temporary use, yes GSE can make water safer or cure or prevent serious bacterial food poisoning. Also, twice daily slightly-diluted by only wetting the skin can cure acne or athletes foot. Rubbed behind and all over the wet ear–not in the ear–can cure ear infections. Apply 1-2 times daily to slow-healing leg scratches after wetting the spot–the spot will heal. But for long term use, GSE eventually weakens the intestinal flora immune system, even in tiny amounts. Use only to treat existing problems. Do not use for long-term prevention, either internally or externally. Except for storing water that is not for drinking. Or use a strong solution to spray heavily on books, shoes, under carpets, inside walls and ceilings, basement walls, to stop mold. Etc. Also can use once a week in ultrasonic humidifiers.
- For active solar heat storage: ok this is where plastic barrels make sense to me. Drill holes for PVC fittings threaded for a garden hose near the top of one side and at the bottom of the opposite side. Buy black garden hoses. Series them and snake them under clear plastic or inside a greenhouse. Attach the higher end of the hose series to the lowest end of a plastic barrel at the end of a barrel series. Attach the higher end of that barrel to the lower end of the next barrel. Etc. Then the higher outlet of the last barrel goes on the lower or "colder" end of the black garden hose. When the hose gets hot, it starts a current running through the barrels. When the barrels are warmer than the hose, the stored heat comes out to warm the greenhouse. Also, maybe add a short length clear tubing somewhere so you might clearly see whether the water is moving. If not, a small pump might be needed.
- To protect a row of crops from freezing: use the above method to join 2-gal jerry cans. (Such as Cat's Pride cat litter comes in.) But in this case, the hose does not need to be black and only just long enough to join the barrels or cans. Also, instead of screw fittings, you can just drill two holes in the top of jerry cans, sized just right for flexible PVC tubing, then join the containers with PVC tubing. Use siphon methods to get the tubing filled with water. Set them in a row along the row of crops. Cover with Remay Frost Blanket, followed by 1-3 layers of "US-made" clear plastic from Greenhousemegastore. Prevents overheating as well as preventing freezing. Still, good idea to open the plastic when the sun is strong. During really cold nights: use a garden hose to drip hot tap water into one end of the series of cans. Cover the 3/4-in garden hose with 1-in foam pipe insulation so the slow-drizzled hot water stays hot to the end of the garden hose.
- For large amounts of water to survive droughts: use multiple small swimming pools. For collecting water from your roof so as to water ponds and gardens during droughts: use Craigslist to buy multiple small above-ground swimming pools whenever someone in your area is unloading them cheap. But only if you can cover them and otherwise make sure small children and animals do not fall in.
PS–I meant clear vinyl tubing (not PVC tubing) to connect 2-gal containers.
I do a lot of water storage.
I think one of the most important things is, giving animals that fall in the tank, a way to climb out.
So every bucket I have on the hill behind my house has tree branches – and no dead drowned mice.
Also with water containers you have to consider whether it will breed mosquitoes.
I had a tank with about a 1000 gallons; a neighbor put a leak in it because they were angry about the mosquitoes.
Hi Oliveguy! We had the Land Conservation draw up a plan for us using a 3000 tank. We haven’t implemented it yet. I don’t want to have to use a pump. The grade is lower (not by more than 5 degrees) where I want to water. Are you using a pump? Thanks for your input!
We don’t have mosquitoes with about 1 tablespoon bleach per new 250 gallons of water. No algae either.