Emergency Water Storage

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January 30, 2014

Earlier this month in Charleston, West Virginia nearly 7,500 gallons of a chemical used in coal processing leaked from a plant into the nearby Elk River, the major source of drinking water for the area. As soon as the problem was made known to the local authorities, a ban on the water was placed, affecting over 300,000 residents.

In my own water storage I’ve used the measurement of 1 gallon of water per day per person, but as I read more about this story about the water contamination in West Virginia, it made me want to do a little more research about how much water a person uses per day.

According to a USGS.gov study, an adult person uses roughly 80 (EIGHTY!) gallon of water per day. Wow! Quite a bit more than the suggested 1 gallon a day isn’t it? Here’s how they break it down:

Typical water use at home

Bath A full tub is about 36 gallons.
Shower 2 gallons per minute. Old shower heads use as much as 5 gallons per minute.
Teeth brushing <1 gallon, especially if water is turned off while brushing. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.
Hands/face washing 1 gallon
Face/leg shaving 1 gallon
Dishwasher 4 to 10 gallons/load, depending of efficiency of dishwasher
Dishwashing by hand: 20 gallons. Newer kitchen faucets use about 2.2 gallons per minutes, whereas older faucets use more.
Clothes washer 25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models use about 40 gallons per load.
Toilet flush 3 gallons. Most all new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, but many older toilets used about 4 gallons.
Glasses of water drunk 8 oz. per glass (did you remember to drink your 8 glasses of water today?)
Outdoor watering 5 to 10 gallons per minute

One of the members who worked on the study had this to say:

“Estimates vary, but each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day. Are you surprised that the largest use of household water is to flush the toilet, and after that, to take showers and baths? That is why, in these days of water conservation, we are starting to see toilets and showers that use less water than before.

emergency water storage

Many local governments now have laws that specify that water faucets, toilets, and showers only allow a certain amount of water flow per minute. Water agencies in some areas, such as in Atlanta, Georgia, offer rebates if you install a water-efficient toilet. In fact, I just put in two new toilets and received a rebate of $100 for each. Yes, they really do use a lot less water. For your kitchen and bathroom faucets, if you look real close at the head of a faucet, you might see something like “1.0 gpm”, which means that the faucet head will allow water to flow at a maximum of 1.0 gallons per minute.”

After reading this study and doing a little more research, I’ve realized I not only need to rethink my water storage plan, but I’ve also made it a priority to replace any outdated ‘water features’ in my home with a more efficient version, as well as to be more conscience of how much time I allow the water to run.

Now, I don’t plan on storing 80 gallons of water per day per person (who has the space?), but it has motivated me to add more here and there to what I already have. Whether that’s by saving up for a large 55 gallon water barrel, or purchasing a 5 gallon container here or there, I know I’ll be glad I made the effort if (or when) I’m ever in a situation like those in Charleston were.