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  • Town of Riverhead Issues State of Emergency Due to Lack of Water

    With a name like Riverhead, you wouldn’t expect there to be a water shortage. Despite being on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, this small Canadian town is out of water. A state of emergency has been declared.

    No water for Riverhead

    Riverhead isn’t even in a drought, and yet they have practically zero access to water. People in California can at least turn on their faucets and get water. Those in Riverhead can’t even do that. Due to a faulty pump in a local pump house, water has ceased flowing since Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Five days later, they still had no water.

    And when we say they’re out of water, we mean there is absolutely none available from an open faucet.

    Drinking water has to be imported from other nearby towns or purchased from stores. But that’s just one problem. Since the pump went out, “residents have been unable to shower, water their lawns, or do their laundry.”

    Sanitation is a major issue. At least getting clean drinking water is easier. But if they plan on bathing, washing, and doing laundry, using drinking water for that could get expensive.

    Riverhead Map Riverhead, Newfoundland (via Google Maps)

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this has happened to the residents of Riverhead. A state of emergency was also declared in 2013 due to similar issues. For the folks in Riverhead, being prepared for lack of water is probably going to become a priority.

    For everyone else, this emergency in Riverhead shows us just how fragile our freely flowing water source can be.

    From broken water mains to drought conditions, there are many reasons why you might be faced with an instant shortage of usable water, be it for drinking or other activities. In order to prepare for such events, there are certain steps you can take to alleviate the problem.

     

    Water Storage

    Part of any emergency plan should include enough water to last 72 hours per person. It is strongly advised to have at least one gallon of water per day for each person, so for 72 hours, you’ll need three gallons of water for yourself. If you have the room for it, it is recommended to have at least that as a minimum – more if you can.

    Water for Riverhead!One method of water storage is in large barrels. For homes with more room, a 160 gallon water reserve could come in mighty handy. Stack another one on top for an impressive 320 gallon water supply. That would keep you going for quite some time.

    Barrels come in smaller sizes, such as 55 gallons, 30 gallons, and 15 gallons. Any of these sizes will be enough for at least 72 hours, but of course, the more you’re prepared, the less you’ll have to worry during an emergency.

    Water jugs and other alternate water storage methods can be used if space is an issue, such as in apartments or small homes. Store them under your bed, a crawl space, bathtub, or other location that is out of the way yet easy to access.

     

    Water Filters

    Water filters aren’t necessarily an alternative to stored water rather than a backup. However, if running water disappears from your faucet and your water storage is running low, you can always take your filter to a nearby river, stream, or lake and fill your containers from there. Don’t forget that water is heavy (about 8 pounds per gallon), so be careful not to overfill your containers or you might be hard pressed to tote them back to your home.

     

    Pre-Packaged Water

    If preparing your own water for storage isn’t your cup of tea, there’s always the option to go with pre-packaged water. Bottled water from the local store is always a safe option, since it is usually purified before being bottled (still, it doesn’t hurt to check the labels first). Alternately, water can come in cans, or even small pouches for convenience in emergency kits as well as hikes and outdoor activities.

     

    No matter your situation or living conditions, there is generally a way for you to have access to clean drinking water (as well as water for washing and cleaning). It may take a little bit of extra planning, but water is literally life, and by investing in water storage, you’re putting your resources towards a more comfortable experience during and after disasters and unexpected water shut offs.

    The emergency in Riverhead shows us yet another way how running water can slip between our fingers and leave us with nothing.  If this were to happen where you live, would you be prepared to go days without clean, running water?

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - River Song...er, Riverhead

  • What the Animas River Spill Teaches Us About Water Storage

    Water is a fragile resource. One moment it’s here, the next…well, it’s still here, but completely unusable.

    Animas River - CNN Animas River (CNN)

    That’s what happened to the Animas River in Colorado and into the San Juan River through Utah and New Mexico. According to ABC News, “3 million gallons of wastewater containing heavy metals, including lead and arsenic,” were accidentally dumped into the river. This waste came courtesy of the of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. CNN reported that the EPA was working on treating the contaminated water inside the mine when “the team accidentally caused it to flow into the nearby Animas River.”

    Woops.

    Now, the river has turned a bright orange hue. While the river may look like a popular citrus beverage, drinking it would have adverse effects. The mustard-colored river is a visual warning that the water is far from clean. Officials have warned people to stay out of the water, and for those in the flood plains of the Animas River and San Juan River, they are advised to test their water before using it for cooking, bathing, and of course, drinking.

    Just one accident from the EPA (which, ironically, is supposed to prevent stuff like this from happening) created havoc for nature and humans alike. According to a CNN report, water samples showed mercury was “nearly 10 times higher than EP acceptable levels. Samples of beryllium and cadmium were 33 times higher, and one of the arsenic levels was more than 800 times higher.” Yowzah. If you’re thinking, “That can’t be good,” you’d be right. CNN went on to explain that exposure to the high levels of heavy metals in the water “can cause an array of health problems from cancer to kidney disease to developmental problems in children.”

    So you may want to avoid all kinds of contact with water from that river until it’s deemed clean.

    But this isn’t the first time U.S. rivers have been highly polluted.

    Animus River isn't the first to be polluted Yellowstone River

    Earlier this year, nearly 50,000 gallons of oil found its way into the Yellowstone River in Montana. CNN reported that the governor declared a state of emergency, and “residents in nearby cities were told not to drink the tap water.” Residents were told to use bottled water for drinking and cooking.

    This was déjà vu for this river. In 2011, Exxon Mobile’s pipeline ruptured, pouring 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River. Not only does lightning strike the same place twice, but apparently oil spills do as well.

    Last year, about 300,000 West Virginians couldn’t drink or wash with water from their tap due to a chemical spill. The ban lasted 10 days.

    Animas River follows the Kalamazoo River in pollution An oil-filled pond next to the Kalamazoo River

    Five years ago, the Kalamazoo River in Michigan turned black with over 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil. 150 families were displaced. As you can imagine, the drinking water was less than ideal.

    That’s a lot of high-level water pollution. But smaller spills effect our water, too. MTV News posted an article with even more rivers that have been contaminated.

    But why am I telling you all this? Because it’s important to know – and remember – how fragile our water supplies can be.

    What we see here are many prime examples of water, our precious resource, being completely and abruptly unusable. This is one reason why having an emergency water storage is vitally important. From water barrels to water filters, you can never be too careful when it comes to getting clean water for you and your family.

    Being without water for 24 hours is one thing, but how would you fare if you had to go without for 10 days like the folks in West Virginia? Definitely something to think about.

     

    Have you ever had an abrupt end to your water supply? How have you prepared for one?

     

    Animas River - Disaster Page

  • Store, Filter, Purify: 3 Ways to Have Safe Drinking Water

    Safe drinking water...not quiteIf you’re out in the wild and see a clear stream or river, you might think you've found safe drinking water. After all, you can see to the bottom and there aren’t any weird-looking floaties. Before you take even a sip from that water source, you may want to treat it.

    Actually, let me rephrase that. You will want to treat it.

    Drinking water that hasn’t been filtered or purified can have disastrous results. Diarrhea, fatigue, and vomiting are just a few of the negative side effects of drinking untreated water, not to mention diseases such as cholera that can crop up from it.

    So yeah, you’ll want to treat the water.

    When it comes to securing clean, safe drinking water for you and your family, knowing the differences between filtering and purifying, as well as how and where to store said water, can help you make an educated decision as to which type of tool you will need. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

     

    Filters

    Safe Drinking water with Katadyn Get safe drinking water with Katadyn's Hiker Pro water filter

    Water filters are like colanders. After you’ve finished boiling your pasta or pot stickers (or whatever it is you fancy for dinner), you dump it all into your colander. The water drains through the little holes in the strainer, while your food is unable to fit through, so it just stays behind. Water filters are the same way. They physically obstruct impurities in the water by not allowing them to pass through the filter. Filters are effective in eliminating bacteria, protozoa, and cysts, all of which can cause diseases. They may not, however filter out smaller floaties such as viruses.

    One of the nice things about filters is that many are small and portable, so you can take them with you camping or hiking, or even to just keep in your emergency kit. Filters like the Katadyn Hiker Pro and the Katadyn Combi are favorites of many hikers, campers, and preppers alike.

     

    Purifiers

    While filters get rid of many harmful substances, purifiers make water safe from the remaining impurities such as bacteria and viruses. Usually this is done by using chlorine or iodine. Purifiers will not, however, take out sediment and other larger, harmful things, such as heavy metals. These purification tablets are a popular choice among hikers, campers, preppers, and travelers, as they are small, easy to carry, and can be used to treat water wherever you are, especially during an emergency. Purification can be used after filtering your water for extra security in your water's safety.

     

    Storing Water

    Another option to ensure you have safe drinking water is to have a long-term water storage. Of course, that water needs to be clean when it was packaged. There are a few options to go about storing water.

    The first is to get pre-packaged water. You know it’s clean and it will last quite some time. It’s also easy to grab on your way out the door in the event of an emergency.

    Another option is the do-it-yourself method. This is the favored way of many people. If you decided on the do-it-yourself method, make sure you use good, food-grade plastic, such as pop bottles. Don’t use containers that once housed milk or juice, as the proteins and sugars can spoil your water.

    Safe drinking water in 320 gallons The 320-gallon water reserve will keep you well-watered with safe drinking water

    Purchasing water containers is a good option, because the quality will be good, and many (if not most) are blue in color, which helps prevent the sun from penetrating your water and helping little organisms grow. As some examples of these kinds of water containers, we carry 5-gallon jugs, 15-gallon, 30-gallon, and 55-gallon water barrels, and even a 160-gallon water reserve (the 160-gallon water reserves stack, by the way, to allow you to have a 320-gallon ultimate water reserve. That’ll keep you going for a while!). While you may not have room for a 320-gallon behemoth, the smaller barrels and containers are great options to keep in your basement, garage, or wherever it is you store water. Just remember: keep them out of direct sunlight, and the cooler the storage temperature, the better!

    When storing water that came from your faucet, it should be swapped out every six months. However, in order to make sure the tap water you’ve stored for a year or more is still safe to drink, Zane Satterfield (engineer scientist at West Virginia University), suggests adding four drops of plain, unscented bleach (per gallon of water) to your water container, let sit for 30 minutes, and you’ll be good to go.

     

    Standing & Stagnant Water vs. Running Water

    Safe drinking water - not this Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms.

    If you find yourself hunting for water in the wild, running water is practically always a better option than standing or stagnant water. That’s because water that isn’t moving becomes a breeding ground for harmful microbes that can make us incredibly sick – or worse. Running water, such as in rivers and streams, make it more difficult for such dangerous life to settle down and thrive. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make running water safe to drink, either. There are still harmful microbes floating around in rivers and creeks and streams that you’ll want to filter out.

     

    As you can see, there are plenty of options for securing safe, clean drinking water. Choose the option that’s best for you, but don’t forget to have a backup plan, just in case. After all, if you have a 55-gallon water barrel and are forced to evacuate, you’ll be happy you have your handy-dandy Katadyn Hiker water filter (or other water filter that suits you better). On the other hand, your favorite water filter won’t be much good in case of a drought, but your 320-gallon water reserve will most certainly come in handy. And of course, a combination of resources is always a great option.

     

    How do you acquire clean, safe drinking water? Let us know in the comments below!

     

    Safe Drinking Water - Other Disasters

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