Tag Archives: water storage

  • What Does Star Wars Teach Us About Drought?

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    With less than 1% of surface water and an average humidity level of 5.4%, Tatooine was a very hostile place to live...

    Star Wars Tatooine Tatooine

    Compared to Tatooine (the desert planet made famous in Star Wars), California ain’t half bad. With an average humidity level of 53% during the day and 4.8% of water covering the entire state, California would feel stiflingly humid for the locals of Tatooine. And that 4.8% area of water is just for the state of California, compared to less than 1% of the entire planet of Tatooine. Yes, compared to Tatooine, California is quite the wetland.

    But if California is fearing a water shortage, how does a place like Tatooine – with even less water – survive? Water was obviously hard to come by on that Outer Rim planet, but with great drought came great innovation.

    Moisture farms made it possible for life on Tatooine. On these farms, moisture farmers would harvest water from the atmosphere. In order to do this, moisture vaporators were used. Moisture vaporators are essentially tall, refrigerated pipes, and when hot, moist air came in contact with these pipes, the humidity would condense onto the pipes, turning into water, and would be collected into underground water storage containers for future use.

    Basically, this is their version of a rain barrel.

    Vaporator (ABC) ABC

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have something like that? Believe it or not, this type of moisture vaporator actually does exist, and it’s even in our galaxy, rather than one far, far away. Invented by Terry LeBleu from Texas, his machine pulls in water from the air and turns it into pure drinking water. People need about one gallon of water per day to live comfortably. This includes water from drinking as well as sanitation. Properly maintained, one moisture vaporator on Tatooine can sustain up to three people. LeBleu’s version does even better:


    “Depending on humidity, the machine can make between five to seven gallons of pure water in one day. All you have to do is plug it in, and one gallon costs only 4 cents in electrical charges.”


    This right here proves that Star Wars is real (but let’s be honest, we really didn’t need proof since we all know it’s real anyway).

    But what about California? They don’t have moisture farms (although maybe they should start looking into those), but there are some things people there can do during a drought to help preserve water. The following are a few steps to take to prepare for a drought and help preserve water during one (this goes for all areas, not just California).


    1. Store Water

    Just like moisture farmers, we should have ways of storing our own water. Water reserves, water barrels, jugs, cans, and pouches…there are many ways to store water, each with its own benefit. Water reserves and barrels are large and hold a lot of water, but they take up more room. Jugs, cans, and pouches are smaller, so they can fit better in smaller areas, but they hold less water. The point is to have some sort of water storage, so if water does run out for a bit, you’ll have some on hand until help can arrive.


    1. Stop Leaks

    You may not think a leaky faucet is a big deal, but did you know that if your faucet is dripping one drop per second, you’ll be wasting 2,700 gallons every year? The people (and aliens) of Mos Eisley do not approve of such waste. Stop those leaks!


    1. Don’t Water Your Lawn So Much

    You don’t necessarily have to spray paint your lawn green to keep it looking nice (although it is a tactic some Californians are reverting to), but do try to cut back on how much water you use to green up your grass. Your lawn only needs to be watered once every 5 days in the summertime, so maybe it’s time to put the sprinkler away those days in between. And, in the winter, your lawn only needs a watering every 10 to 14 days. A bonus is if you get a good rain, your grass is good for up to two weeks! Don’t overdo it. You don’t see Jabba the Hutt using water excessively, and he only cares for himself!


    1. Recycle

    Don’t waste water if you can find another use for it. Excess shower water, for example, can be used to water your plants. Find ways to capture excess water and use it for other things you’d normally use water for.



    Star Wars may take place in a galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from their drought-ridden planets. Tatooine is in a constant state of drought, and always has been. California is now in their 4th year of drought, but if it keeps up the way it is, Tatooine may have a new rival when it comes to arid wastelands. But before California turns into a genuine dust bowl, there are some steps to take to reduce water usage and prepare for even harsher conditions. During times of drought, water is the most valuable resource you have. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.


    For more information on drought, including articles and essential gear and products, visit beprepared.com/drought-preparedness.


    Drought Preparedness


    Additional Reading:

    When the Well Runs Dry: http://beprepared.com/blog/17715/well-runs-dry/

    Don't Doubt the Drought: http://beprepared.com/blog/17819/dont-doubt-drought/

    Posted In: Planning, Water Storage Tagged With: moisture vaporator, Tatooine, Star Wars, California, drought, water storage

  • How to Desalinate Water

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    How to Desalinate Water

    Water is a dynamic resource. It depends on the season, the location, the temperature, and a host of other factors. But one thing you can always count on is that at any given time about 97% of the world’s water is tied up in the ocean. The other 3% is found in streams, lakes, groundwater, and ice. Looking at the numbers, it’s obvious that tapping into the ocean’s reserves opens a world of possibilities, especially when it comes to an emergency.

    Using ocean water in an emergency is an obvious possibility for people living in coastal or island areas. When one considers the number of vacation destinations in these areas, the application becomes much wider. Natural disasters, especially, have the ability to interrupt or cripple fresh water supplies in these areas.

    However, people cannot safely drink ocean water.  The reason for this lies in the kidneys.  As the kidneys process salt, they are only capable of producing urine that is less salty than ocean water.  This means it requires more water than that which is available in ocean water to rid the body of excess salt. So as a person drinks ocean water they become increasingly dehydrated, rather than rehydrated. This makes desalinating ocean water an appealing option.

    If removing salt from ocean water is part of your emergency preparedness plan, it will generally take a bit more effort and/or equipment than other water purification processes.  Describing the desalination process at some length emphasizes the fact that the key word here is preparedness. For desalination to be useable at home, some foresight will go a long way.


    Desalination: How does it Work?

    Desalination or Desalting is the process of removing salt from ocean water to produce fresh water. Desalinated water can be used for drinking water, or for agriculture, or industrial use.

    Desalination is an inherently energy intensive process. There is a reason why wells are drilled, treatment plants are used, and conservation efforts are exhausted before agencies, governments, and authorities consider using desalination. That reason is money. In many cases ocean water must be treated and/or filtered before the desalination process can take place. This means that aside from consuming a great deal of energy, it also requires equipment, facilities, and manpower. Ultimately, this results in expensive water.

    Despite the cost, removing salt from ocean water is still a useful process that is in use in many areas. Expensive water is much better than no water, and as technology advances, renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power make desalination more viable and affordable.


    Types of Desalination

    There are different ways that this process can take place. The two most common are distillation and reverse osmosis.

    • Distillation is the process of boiling ocean water and collecting the condensate which has left salt and other minerals behind.
    • Reverse osmosis uses pressure and a semi-permeable membrane to accomplish the same thing. Osmosis is a naturally occurring process in which a solvent (water) and a solution (salt water) equalize across a semi-permeable membrane. This occurs as the solvent flows from less concentrated to more concentrated water until equilibrium is achieved. Reverse osmosis, as the name implies, pushes the process the other way. Pressure is applied to the salt water side pushing water molecules to the less concentrated side producing clean, salt-free water.

    Ways to Desalinate Water in an Emergency

    There are several different techniques you can use to desalinate water during an emergency.

    • Home distillation is a possibility. It requires a lot of fuel, however. In an extended emergency this could become a problem. Fuels (propane, etc.) may not last and wood collection could become too labor intensive to be worthwhile.
    • Solar distillation may be used as well, but production from a solar still is generally small. If solar power is going to be used, preparedness will be the key. It would be a great idea to invest in something like a solar oven to make the process more efficient.
    • Reverse osmosis is a viable option in an emergency as well. It will, however, require some investment and planning.
    •  Purchase a Desalinator. For someone who lives in an area where using salt water in an emergency is their best option, there are some good products out there. There are a couple common types.
    1. Powered Desalinators: Battery or generator operated. Powered desalinators are capable of supplying a decent volume of water, but they will require ongoing maintenance of batteries, solar panels, or generators to be sure everything will function in an emergency. They’re also relatively expensive. A common model is the Katadyn PowerSurvivor 40E. It retails for around $4000.00. It runs on 12 volts and puts out 1.5 gallons per hour. There are other models as well, but this one is fairly typical of price and output. They go up or down in price based on options.
    2. Manual Deslinators: The Katadyn Survivor 06 is a good example of a manual desalinator. They are generally operated by pumping to supply pressure to force water through the membrane. These again highlight the large amount of energy needed for desalination. The Katadyn Survivor requires 40 pumps per minute to produce 0.89 liters per hour. That is 2400 pumps for less than one liter of water!  In an emergency you’ll be glad to have the water, but a small manual desalinator will only provide enough water for one or two people and it will take a lot of work to get it.

    There are many scenarios where desalination may be your best option for an emergency water supply. If this is the case, it’s critical that you do some planning. You may need to learn specific techniques and decide how to best accomplish the task. In some cases it requires a significant amount of equipment. More so than with almost any other emergency water supply plan, desalination requires planning and forethought in order to be prepared.


    Is a desalinator not in your price range for emergency supplies? For a step-by-step tutorial on how to distill your own water at home, check back for our upcoming article on home distillation.

    Also, check out some of our other water filters and purifiers, such as the Katadyn® Expedition. These filters and purifiers are a great way to clean water found in fresh water sources.



    Author Bio: Joe Huish has worked for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District’s drinking water treatment sector for 10 years.  He studied Geology at Utah State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He’s an avid outdoorsman and is a bit of a gear nut. He enjoys fishing, hunting, jeeping, and camping.

    Posted In: Insight, Uncategorized, Water Storage Tagged With: distillation, desalination, water storage, water

  • Portland Issues a City-Wide Boil Order

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    Portland Issues a City-Wide Boil Order

    On Friday, May 23, the Portland, Oregon Water Bureau issued a city-wide boil order after E. coli was detected in the water. According to ABC News, this 24-hour boil order was the largest in the city’s history, affecting 670,000 people in the city and several outlying suburbs.

    Coffee shops, restaurants, and bars were forced to close during this period, impacting their weekend sales. But grocery stores saw a spike in sales as people purchased water jugs, bottled water, and soda cans in excess.

    Although the boil order ended on Saturday, May 24th, the city still hasn’t figured out the source of the contamination. But it’s assumed that an animal spread fecal matter through the city’s water system. The city drained and cleaned two reservoirs, but is telling residents to continue to take caution and to run their taps for two minutes to eliminate any contaminated water.

    Even though the boil order only lasted a day, drinking contaminated water can have serious effects and can cause illness. One way to prepare for a boil order and to avoid depleting grocery shelves is to store water and to have a water filter like the Katadyn Hiker and a method of water purification like Micropur tablets on hand that can remove or kill bacteria and protozoa in the water.


    To learn more about the Portland boil order, check out these articles:

    “Portland Issues Boil Order . . .” from the Oregonian

    “Looking Back on Portland’s largest Boil Order Alert . . .” from the Oregonian

    “Portland lifts City-Wide Boil Order” from ABC News


    To learn more about water storage, and filtration and purification, check out these articles:

    Water Restrictions Making you Blue?

    Discover the Best Water Treatment System for You


    What are your tips for surviving a boil order? 


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: water filter, water purification, water storage

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