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99 Capacities Series – Capacity #12: Collect and Transport Water

The twelfth capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must collect and transport water from all sources. In it I state that:

You must “collect and transport water from all sources (including rainwater and from local streams, ponds, lakes, etc). This is more difficult than you might realize initially. With every drop being precious you can’t afford to waste any! I’ll give you a hint: think buckets… lots and lots of buckets! (And remember the lids too.) FYI, 5-gallon homer buckets are a great start; visit your local hardware store to get a descent price. In addition, read this water procurement information, including rainwater harvesting and well drilling.”

The ability to turn on a faucet and get clean, reliable, on-demand water is among the best thing civilization has accomplished in millennia. To think that we, as a society, have the capacity to collect and transport water and distribute it to millions of people in any given area is an awesome feat. But, what happens if that service no longer exists? What would you do to collect water?

Before discussing specifics, you should begin to understand the natural balance and tendencies of your local water resource. That is, answer questions like:

  • On average, how often does it rain (daily, weekly, less often)?
  • How much rainfall does your area get yearly (above average, significantly less than average)?
  • Is there a lengthy dry season?
  • Are there local lakes, streams, ponds, etc that can be accessed, if necessary?
  • Is the underground water table accessible and within a reasonable cost to tap, if necessary?
  • How does the local topography affect the migration and flow of water?

Beginning to understand your local geography in such a manner will put you well ahead of nearly everyone else because most people don’t have a clue.

Collecting Water… But from Where?

It’s tempting to think that it will be easy to collect water for all of your requirements should the need ever arise. I believe this is a far-fetched notion at best. Just think about the last time it rained. When was that? Or, can you recall times where it was a week or longer between rainfalls? I can, and I suspect that it’s more common than you realize.

Can you store enough water to last for weeks (let alone months as many Texas residents found out last year)? I’m positive I cannot. Regardless, I’m going to take advantage of any rainfall that I get. How?

Rainwater harvesting, for starters. I won’t discuss it in this post as there are plenty of videos here; suffice it to say that you should understand how to do this and actually DO IT if your local ordinances permit it as collecting rainwater may be a great way to water your garden and plants. (Note: if you do collect rainwater for human consumption you MUST treat it properly! Additionally, it may be against the law so check your local laws before doing so.) If you are going to collect rainwater then you’re going to need/want a 55 gallon water barrel to collect it.

How else can you collect rainwater? There are other, temporary ways such as an inflatable kiddie pool or two and even stringing up a large 6-mil tarp between trees and funneled into a 55 gallon water barrel or even a clean 32-gallon trash barrel would work. Of course, there are some potential sanitary issues here as none of these suggestions include FDA-approved food-grade containers. Anyway, a bit of ingenuity will go a long way here.

Besides rainwater, you may be able to source water from local lakes, streams, and ponds. The problem here is the ability to transport any water you collect as it will probably be a significant distance from your home, which will be discussed below. The other HUGE problem is that all groundwater in the United States should be considered non-potable (not safe for consumption) due to the very real possibility of bacterial and protozoa infection.

Digging groundwater wells are another option. In some cases this can be very costly but may be well worth the effort if expect to stay where you are for many years to come.

Transporting Water After You Get It

The ability to move water from one place to another can be a tricky question to answer. This is true even for moving water around your home. Likely the biggest problem with transporting water is the simple fact that it is very heavy, weighing in at more than eight pounds per gallon. For most people, attempting to move more than five gallons by hand would be a very difficult chore. Therefore, I urge you to purchase several five gallon buckets such as this pack of five 5-gallon food-grade buckets specifically for the transport (and some storage) or water. Smaller one-gallon buckets or pails may be easier to handle by some people, so I would encourage a few of these too.


But, what if you cannot physically lift heavy buckets or walk long distances? Perhaps something like a garden cart (shown to the left), hand cart, and even a furniture dolly may be just the answer for around the house. Virtually anything that allows you to leverage the wheel is useful. In particular, this Tricam cart can support up to 400 pounds AND includes high side walls to help stabilize your load. Besides transporting water you may easily find a dozen other uses for it.


Now, what if you need to transport water longer distances? This is where it gets really difficult since you’re probably not going to have a car or truck to rely on and you’re probably not going to be able to carry several gallons of water on foot. There are a few options, such as utilizing a bicycle with a pull-behind kid trailer or an attached cart (such as the one shown to the left). There are also an assortment of cargo trailers that can be attached to most bicycles. The aforementioned garden carts may be useful here too.

Last, we have to think about avoiding the loss of any water whatsoever, even when transferring water from one container to another. Thus, funnels are also highly recommended; even a simple 3-piece funnel set is a start. Purchase an assortment of sizes and label them for their intended purpose.

The point is to think about from where you can collect water if necessary and how exactly you will transport such a precious resource around the house as well as from afar.

Note: This post is part of an ongoing series detailing the ideas from my free eBook, The 99 Capacities You MUST Acquire BEFORE Disaster Strikes You!, which you may freely download here.

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