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#132091 - 05/06/08 12:02 PM Emergency water purification question
andrei Offline

Registered: 05/05/08
Posts: 3

I live with my wife and three kids in East Central Florida, on a salt marsh with brackish water. We have been thinking about how to prepare for a disaster/emergency situation. We have stocked on food, gas, solar battery rechargers, etc. but we are still confused about what to do about water. We live on city water and if the our city looses power (which happens *very* easily down here) we are stuck without water. During the hurricanes, we also had brown, dirty water coming from our faucets. So what should we do in case of emergency? We have three large water sources:

1) The brackish water in the canal we live on. Here is an abundant supply of water, but it still has salt in it (only sawgrass grows in our marsh). Even if we desalinate it, we still would need to purify it. Still, it would be the one I would prefer using, if that is at all possible.

2) The community swimming pool. Plenty of water there, but it is chlorinated and has plenty of dirt in in (ranging from hair to dead insects).

3) A nearby lake. Fresh water, but known for amoebas (and alligators, but these are not a problem).

I have found this Katadyn Base Camp water purification system which is affordable and simple but it cannot remove salt.

So my questions are:

a) is there any cost effective way to use the brackish water of our marsh in case of emergency? If yes, how? if not:
b) if I get the water purification system above should I use my swimming pool water (which is kind off disgusting, but it is within walking distance) or should I use the lake's water (wich is about a 30min drive away, thus using up gas).

Also, depending on the time of the year, rain water might be another good option in Florida. Could somebody recommend a *cheap* but effective rainwater collection and storage system? More generally, what kind of container should I get to keep water for long periods of time (several weeks)?

Many thanks in advance for any pointers!

#132092 - 05/06/08 12:35 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: andrei]
falcon5000 Offline

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 662
Welcome to ETS andrei, there are several ways to do this and I think benjammin would be a great help on this one. In my case, I use several methods for back ups but can get expensive but here are some ideas. I think if you want the best bang for the buck in an emergency use I would use the e-still http://www.zetatalk.com/food/tfoox152.htm at $200 which comes with charcoal filters which will convert salt water, urine and pretty much everything else to drinking water and the charcoal filters goes after Florida's big pesticide issues in the water. The draw back to this unit is it is harder to find these units and they are big and bulky and can be a pain to carry them on foot. Other options would be a survivor 35 for desalination and a charcoal pre filter or a Katadyne combi for pesticides and either boil the water or steripen it or MIOX it for viruses. The big things in Florida are the salt,viruses and pesticides which you would need to distill or RO for salt, boil,chemical treat or UV the viruses and charcoal filter to remove the pesticides. I think the E-still for around the house only is the best bang for the buck, we can go out to the ocean, pond or what have you and it takes care of everything. But mobile I use the other equipment. With a e-still for about a $200, I don't think you can go wrong. Now if you want a big system for the house for long term, benjammin would be a good one to talk to. Anyway that's my 2 bits and there are a lot of knowledgeable people here that have great ideas and I'm sure they will help you out as well.
Welcome again.

Check this thread out as well:


I have a E-still and a military survivor 35 off of eBay for salt water conversion, I have a steripen for viruses and a Katadyne combi for pesticide.

Some other options:

I would not recommend a Waterwise Distiller for salt water if you stumble on this expensive thing. It does not play well with salt water over time.

Survivor 35


Katadyn Combi

Failure is not an option!
USMC Jungle Environmental Survival Training PI 1985

#132097 - 05/06/08 02:22 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: andrei]
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
In addition to what falcon5000 suggested check out the solar unit:

Solar Still


#132109 - 05/06/08 05:25 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: paramedicpete]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
If you're in eastern central Florida, most likely in the event your municipal source becomes compromised the state and county will provide an alternative supply, up to and including having potable water trucked in by tankers etc. You should probably keep a 7 day supply of water on hand anyways, if you have room to stock it.

I wouldn't recommend using any surface water source here in east central Florida, especially during/after a hurricane or other flood related incident, as all surface waterways will quite likely be contaminated with a whole list of organic and chemical hazards that would require some serious processing effort to clean up. If you must, I would suggest trying to make use of groundwater sources instead, as that might afford you some isolation/filtration from the surface contamination, but you would still want to at least boil it, filter it, or chemically treat it, or a combination thereof. There are springs here and there all over central Florida that would make much more reliable sources to draw from. Barring that, find someone nearby if you can with a nice deep well that is prepared and has a means of extracting the water in the event the grid goes down. It might take some investigation, but it is well worth it if you are at all concerned you might need an alternative source, which it sounds like you are.

Florida is the epitome of the cliche "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink". Bear Grylls' little escapade in the everglades was extremely risky, he is really lucky he didn't get a nasty bug the way he went about his business. Les wasn't so lucky, and the Georgia swamp water gave him a parastitic infection he dealt with for over a year afterwards. All raw surface water here is pretty much a no-no.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#132113 - 05/06/08 06:23 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: benjammin]
TeacherRO Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2396
Of course the easy answer here is to store water -- which is cheap and easy to get before any major event. Do a search for how to prepare the water and store it long -term.

Its easy enough to get 5 gal buckets and prepare the water... the key is to actually do it.

#132116 - 05/06/08 07:14 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: TeacherRO]
BobS Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 924
Loc: Toledo Ohio
Iím glad I live where I do, lots of water all over the place all year long. And there is a big lake 4-miles north of me with all the water one could want.

I agree with the post above, get some 5-gal water containers and store it now. Easy to do and not that expensive.

You can run, but you'll only die tired.

#132117 - 05/06/08 07:15 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: TeacherRO]
andrei Offline

Registered: 05/05/08
Posts: 3
Dear friends,

Thanks for all your kind replies. I had no idea that the water issue in Floria was so hard. I guess the only safe and affordable thing do do is to store a 7 day supply of water for 2 adults and 3 kids. Using the water only drinking and minimal washing, what amount of water should I plan should I set aside and, no less important, what kind of container would you recommend? Is there something cheap and readily available to store water for my family for, say a couple of months at a time?

(Using buckets, or even my bathtub, will work for hurricanes, but for any other emergency situation this might be too little, too late depending on the warning time)

@Falcon5000: thanks for the welcome and for recommending all the gear. I will look it all up and read about it even if I do end up storing water at my home (that gear looks like something which I might want to have in all cases.

One more question, if I may: you mention pesticides. The canal we live on is on the Turnbull Bay Creek and it comes from a natural preserve. We have tides and some current, but nothing like the Intercoastal River so the water is comparatively more stagnant, in particular in our canal. Also, there are two golf courses in the immediate vicinity and these courses are often sprayed against bugs and, no doubt, the greens are also heavily treated. Still, people regularly catch and eat fish from these waters. I do not fish, but I do regularly eat the blue crabs which I can in my crabpot. Should I worry about these blue crabs being filled with all sorts of pesticides and other chemicals?

Again, many thanks to you all for providing your time and expertise!

#132122 - 05/06/08 07:37 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: andrei]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Welcome to ETS, andrei. You mentioned water for a couple months in your last post. Is that what you're shooting for? Because that really changes the question and is really more a topic for the Long Term forum. Storing water for a family of five for a couple months is a lot of water and is not practical for many/most people. I use three gallons per person per day as a guideline for short-term emergencies. For five people (even if 3 are kids), that's 900 gallons for 60 days at a bare minimum.

Getting back to the canal/marsh--don't forget that conditions during normal times could be completely different than after extensive flooding or after a hurricane storm surge pushes all kinds of crap into the marsh. Flooded sewer tunnels and septic systems, flooded gas stations and factories, even flooded golf courses are going to unload a lot of chemicals and other nastiness that normally don't really get into the marsh. The community pool or lake may not be any different.

#132132 - 05/06/08 08:35 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: Arney]
BobS Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 924
Loc: Toledo Ohio
You already do store 30 or 40 gal of water in your water heater, Unless you have a demand water heater then you only have about 2 to 5-gal in it. You need to flush it out every so often to clear out the sediments that gather in the bottom of the tank. And I would also run that water through a water filter before drinking it. But it gives you a source of some water.

Are most homes in Florida slab homes with the water tank mounted up higher then the first floor? If so it may be easier to get the water out of the tank. I donít know on this as there are very few slab homes in this area and I donít know exactly how you do it there.


You can run, but you'll only die tired.

#132137 - 05/06/08 09:22 PM Re: Emergency water purification question [Re: BobS]
MoBOB Offline

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1219
Loc: here
Check the link to see how much space you can plan on to store water. http://forums.equipped.org/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=131959#Post131959
"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

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