Over the past month, the UK has seen record levels of sunshine and heat, with no rain in the area I live for over 6 weeks now. The ground conditions for growing crops are terrible, record levels of soil dryness have been recorded in the mid-east of the country, and crops all over the country are starting to fail due to no water.
Temperatures have reached 31ºC in parts of the UK, which has blown all pervious records out of the water. This prolonged period of heat, and dryness will have a knock on effect, though many people do not see this. Most actually think, once we get some rain, thats the problem solved. Not true.
Soil measurements carried out on a piece of land pretty close to me show cracks in the ground that go down as deep as 9 inches. The ground is dry, very dry. The first rain will run off the soil, the second rain will begin to soak in, and the following rain will begin to replenish what moisture the ground has lost over the past weeks.
The lack of water may cause widespread crop failures, possibly resulting in a slump in produce, which could effect the food supply chain for the country, or any countries which import food or crop from the UK. I know farmers at present who say their wheat and barley crops are starting to die!
A hosepipe ban has been put in place, and in some areas, water has actually been shut off due to supply issues. Many people think that there is not enough water, this is not true, the problem is, the water companies can’t keep up with the demand for clean water, and so can’t process water fast enough to get it pumped out to customers around the country.
As a prepper, this gets me thinking, what can I do to make sure I am not effected by a hosepipe ban, or a water shortage. I have taken some short term precautions, such as keeping the bath filled with water, and my normal water storage in 55 gallon drums, and bottles in the kitchen cupboards, but, is there more we can be doing?
Prepping for a UK Water Shortage – What Can You do?
To begin with, we need to understand the problem we are currently facing, and the problems we may face in the near future.
At present, we are not facing a water shortage, but a supply/demand issue. The water companies cannot get water cleaned fast enough to get it pumped out to customers. A knock on effect of this is a hosepipe ban. This means people cannot use their hosepipes to water plants, wash cars, water their gardens, but, you can use a watering can if filled from a tap. Watering cans are out of stock in most shops at the moment.
The moment a hosepipe ban was made public, people started rushing to the shops to buy bottled water…
In the future though, with an ever increasing population, and increasing demand for water, we may see water shortages become the norm during hot summer months, even year round with climate change.
So, what can we do to prepare for this?
Rain Water Collection
The advantages of rain water collection are that you can collect lots of water at times of heavy rain, and store it for use at times like the present. If you live in a normal sized house, 30 minutes of rain will fill a 55 gallon drum if you collect the water off all your roves.
You will be able to use this to water plants, and keep any vegetables you have growing, alive. You could even buy a submersible pump, and use it to pump the water through a hosepipe to make watering easier.
The disadvantage of rain water is, you cannot drink it with out filtering and purifying it first.
If you are going to setup a rainwater collection system, I would advise daisy chaining 5 or 6 drums, so you will have a storage capacity of 275 gallons plus.
Emergency Water Storage
Collecting rainwater is great, but it’s always a good idea to have instant access to drinkable water. One way to do this is by storing some in drums in your garage, or spare room.
You can store emergency water in your garage, or house in 55 gallon drums, or regular plastic bottles. Tap water will keep for around 1 year if properly stored, but I would advise changing it every few months to be on the safe side. Store it in a cool and dry location.
See Emergency water storage for more information.
Reuse Old Water
Filling your sink with water takes around 10 litres or more. When washing up the dishes, instead of letting your old water down the drain, grab a bucket, disconnect the waste fitting under the sink, and drain off any water from the sink into the bucket, and it can be used for watering plants and such.
The same goes for water used in bathrooms, but be sure to make sure any soap you use is biodegradable.
Fill the Bath
As soon as I heard about the hosepipe ban, I filled the bath tub with water. That right there is a weeks worth of water for cooking and drinking. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level in your bath, as it might leak some out the plug if the seal is not great, so keep it topped up at all times.
You may want to run the water through a cotton cloth, or filter before using it though, as it will collect dust over time.
Camping Water Containers
Another great solution to store water is using a camping water container you can buy. These are a great way to store water on the cheap. A 15L water butt will run you £5-6, maybe cheaper.
Fill a few of these up, and keep them stored away incase the water is shut off. 15L will be enough for 2 people, for 2 days if you use it wisely.
Fill any Buckets You Have
If you have any buckets that are not being used, fill them up with water, and keep them in the garage for watering plants, and you garden. If you plan on drinking any water from these buckets, make sure they are marked food grade, as you don’t want any chemicals leaching into your water.
Keep Old Plastic Bottles
Using old plastic bottles is a great way to store water. Those old coke bottles you throw out, don’t. Give them a good wash out with warm water and soap, and fill them with water from the tap, and store them in the cupboard. This water will keep for around a year, but as I mentioned above, replace it every few months to be on the safe side.
It’s amazing how much water you can collect when doing this, and best of all, it’s free, provided you have old bottles that is!
If the water is actually shut off, and you have no way to take a shower or bath, you can use plastic bottles filled with water, and heat them in the microwave, or use a pot, and heat water over the stove. This can then be used to wash yourself.
You will be surprised at how little water you actually need to keep yourself feeling clean. Around 4 litres should do it. Use a damp cloth, and soap, and clean yourself off, then sparingly rinse yourself off with the remaining water.
Don’t Let the Laundry get Behind
Keeping the washing up to date is essential in a time where water is in high demand, or there is a shortage. You never know when the water may be shut off, so always keep your clothes washed. As soon as you have a full load for the machine, get them washed and dried, don’t let it build up, as if the water goes off, you will be washing them in a bucket by hand.
No Water for Washing Clothes
If the water is shut off, and has been for some time, you will run out of clean clothes as your washing machine needs water to work, obviously! So, how do you go about washing the clothes?
Heat some water over the stove, or fire, and fill a bucket with it. Using this bucket, soak your clothes in the water wish some washing powder, stir and agitate them with a stick for 10 – 15 minutes, then rise out in clean water and ring out the clothes to help them dry out faster.
When looking at UK water shortages, or water shortages worldwide, we need to consider the precautions we can take to avoid being caught without water. As described above, there are a number of ways we can go about making sure we always have access to water.
Always make sure to have at least 2 weeks worth of clean drinking water on hand for things like cooking, drinking and personal hygiene.
Take note of any nearby water sources, and how they are affected by low levels of rain fall. Lakes, rivers and all other bodies of water will drop, so if you plan on using these as a water source, be sure they are not dried up.