What Should I Do?: The Basics of Resilience (Part 2 – Water)

Interesting post about the water tanks.  Sounds like a good option there.  Unfortunately, we have something here called “freezing”.  Do you have any low cost, practical strategies for addressing that problem?  Heating a large metal tank or a bubbler just wouldn’t work around here with occasional subzero winter temperatures.  A subterranean tank might be an option but would require a considerable excavation and wouldn’t allow gravity feed.  Luckily, we have superb well water.


Good point.  I’ve never used rainwater from the roof for watering the garden or drinking for this very reason.  Watering the lawn or washing, fine, but nothing that we’re putting inside our bodies.


I guess it depends what you define as “occasional freezing”.  Three years ago, we had -6 deg C here (~20F?) in the morning which was part of a week long cold snap when we had (for here) very severe frosts every day…  of course, the daytime temps rose well above freezing after sun up, but the point is we had no problems with our tanks, or burst plumbing.
We haven’t had a frost since BTW, as the last two winters have been way warmer than average.  The weather’s all over the place now, almost ran out of wate rlast year when it didn’t rain for 6 months, and this year, more than half way through winter (our normally dry season) our tanks are still brimming full…  but there’s no climate change  !  :wink:

Having said that corrugated iron tanks are an icon here, a lot of people build inground concrete ones.  I don’t like them because they cost more, they are more unsustainable than steel, and they can’t be moved if you so desire.

Re roof contamination, bird shit could be a problem, though there’s plenty of it under the TV aerial where birds perch that never seems to wash off… the sun cakes it on so hard I can’t even clean it off!  We’ve been drinking it for five years now, and never get sick.  We installed filters ~ two years ago, and the water is delicious, I can’t stand town water any more, and I noticed after we moved here how much nicer the espresso coffee I make with it is, not to mention the home brewed beer…  NO FLUORIDE either!


Actually, I said occasional “subzero winter temperatures” which is deep freezing.  It’s almost always below freezing here 24/7 in mid winter here except for a brief thaw or two.  Occasional subzero freezing could consist of one month of no temperatures above 0 deg. F and many nights down to -25 to -30 deg. F such as occurred back in the winter after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.   When it’s that cold, when you spit, it freezes when it hits the ground (and maybe before).  An above ground corrugated metal tank would become a very big ice cube in short order.
With rainwater contamination, I’m less concerned about bird feces than about trace chemical contamination from the asphalt shingle roofing material we have.

I’ve been collecting water for about 8 years. Initially I used a metal roof and a large collection field, that turned out to be too small of a collection area. Next I addded the roof of our main house which was/is asphalt shingle. I was very concerned with the effect of tar on my water sup[ply. It’s not much of an issue. I use a mechainical filter, then a UV sterilizer at 1/2 the rated capacity and finally a large activated carbon filter to polish. It works great and we have never been sick from anything remotely associated with water.

BTW, my tanks have a 27,000 gallon capicity




Hope that works out for you long term.  My best friend has been in EPA enforcement for 30 years and has some interesting stories to tell.  Unfortunately, you and your family may not know the full consequences of your actions for 20-30 years.  As you know, neither a mechanical filter nor a UV light will address the chemical contaminants in the water.  The activated carbon filter should get rid of many of the carcinogens and other chemicals but not all of them. 





I am sure you have figured it out by now but  -6 is not -20F. It is 20 F. Actually 21.2F but hey what’s a couple of degrees among friends.

It is no wonder you have weather all over the place. It may not be due to climate change - just a difference between C and F


Several weeks (months?) back there was a thread encouraging those of us that do not post to do so. I have been reading and absorbing as much as possible and always felt so far behind the curve compared to the insightful posts from the community.
Maybe it’s my time to contribute something, even if it is only a small idea.

I live in suburbia and access to spring water by the side of the road is non existent. And no one would dare consider using water from the creeks, streams or rivers near my community. Storing fresh water (where or whatever the source) in 5 gallon containers is a good solution to the short term problem, but what about long term? There has been discussions about rain barrels and water collection systems and so forth, but there may also be other solutions readily at hand for those of us that live in environments that cannot or will not condone water collection tanks.

I sat outside today (less than 100 degrees finally) looking at my man made pond and stream and it dawned on me. I already have a source of water collection that does not compete with township ordinances or association laws, etc. Taking that thought a little further, so does anyone that has a pool. If or when needed, these “collection basins” could provide a source of rain water that could be combined with one of the purification methods described in this thread.

Thank you to everyone that has been contributing and a special thank you to Chris Martenson for keeping us informed and encouraging us to make a difference by being prepared and encouraging our neighbors and community to do the same. The suggestion of us to move beyond step zero has challenged me to move out of my comfort zone. Thank you for the nudge and for your diligence and insights!

I think that I have done enough research on this topic to finally be able to decide on which product is the most appropriate for my situation.  I had never even heard of the “Doulton” filter or ceramic candles prior to reading this article.  I was even more surprised to discover that this technology has been in use since 1827. 
There is a filter/candle made by the same company that is of a higher quality than the ceramic candles as well as add-on filters that will remove fluoride and arsenic.  The filter is called the “Black Berkey” and it is used in the same containers that Dr. Martenson uses for his ceramic filters. 

The following is an educational site along with some questions from prospective customers that are addressed in an informative and rather thorough manner.  Also included on this site are several useful YouTube videos.   

One product that I intend to purchase is a sight-glass spigot that allows the user to see the water level in the lower container on the stainless steel models.       


My only obstacle is getting one because for some reason, they apparently don’t ship to California.  Nevertheless, that issue shouldn’t be too difficult to circumvent. 



 We are currently filtering chlorinated, town water and don’t need the inner charcoal thing to filter out diseases.  Supposedly the ceramic part works to take out chemicals long after (forever?) the inner part is spent so I’ve waited beyond the recommended time to change out the candles.  How about using a spent candle as a sharpening rod?  This week I plan on checking it out as a fine/superfine stone before honing.  I’ll try it flat on the bench and also in a vice.  Might be good for deeply serrated edges but might be too thick.  Does anyone else do this?

Please recheck your facts on the chemical reduction of the filter elements. It is my understanding that the charcoal absorbs chemicals and chlorine, the ceramic made from diatomaceous earth shreds bacteria and virus and the colloidal silver finishes the job on anything that makes it through the “tortuous path” of the ceramic.

As far as using the ceramic as a sharpener, keep us posted. I think it will work well. I am curious as to what grit you associate it with once you start using it.

Great Tip! Thanks

I have a question about how to filter water from a salt water pool for drinking.  I was looking at the Aqua Cera Plastic Water filter but it does not say anything about salt water.  I read another article that says to boil the water to distill it.  I am looking for a short-term solution in an emergency where water is not available - we have a salt water pool at the house we are renting and it would be a great source of water if we can make it drinkable.
Thanks for any suggestions!  Donna

I would urge folks to stock up on plastic PET bottles. In a dark place they should last for a long time. Their value is in emergency water purification.
These techniques have been used in Africa and other high solar gain places but they can work in the colder and darker parts of the USA with more time.

The key word is “SODIS”

Solar water disinfection, also known as SODIS  is a method of disinfecting water using only sunlight and plastic PET bottles. SODIS is a free and effective method for decentralized water treatment, usually applied at the household level and is recommended by the World Health Organization as a viable method for household water treatment and safe storage.”


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Hi Ddavis04,I think that a desalinator would work for your salt-water pool.  There are several different desalinators on Amazon, although they’re not cheap.  I was thinking about getting the Katadyn Survivor 35.  At the time of this post they were temporarily out of stock and the price was down from $1,895 to $750. 
I found the Katadyn Survivor 35 available at another site (http://www.fishreports.net/tackle/katadyn/) for $2,079.  This site also has a desalinator (Survivor 06) for $874.  Amazon has this same filter for $895. 
Ref.:  http://www.amazon.com/Katadyn-8013418-Survivor-06-Desalinator/dp/B000F395X0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1295765783&sr=8-1  The discussion between a reviewer who gave the product a one-star rating based on his phone conversation with a Katadyn representative is interesting as well.
Here’s another link to a page on Amazon.:

has been created keeping in view of the IT-professionals. This site will help you “Professionals” to quickly and efficiently locate many opportunities that exist.It’s user friendly tool to help you match your own Specifications, Qualifications and Requirements.

The Warer Bob clearly states it is for one-time use only - we passed based on it’s non-sustainability. Okay for one-time use in an emergency if you still have water flowing to your residence.

Does the stuff from Pauls mercantile ship to Canada?  Want to order that doulten filter but I know ordering anything but very small things from the US is usually a no-no.

Hi, this is john from St. Paul Mercantile.  Yes, I do ship to Canada, though my website does not compute shipping costs outside the continental US.  If you are interested in a water filter, or any other product, just email me what you want and I’ll email you back with the shipping costs.  Sometimes I might suggest a similar product that is lighter, to save on shipping costs.  For example, with the water filters, it is much cheaper to just send the ceramic candles with a spigot, then you can use two locally-purchased buckets to build your own bucket filter.  Instructions are on my website at www.stpaulmercantile.com 

Chris recommends the stainless steel Doulton water filter, adding that the Aqua Cera plastic body filter is also good for occasional use.  I wanted to list a few of the advantages of the Aqua Cera filter to help people make the choice of which one to purchase.
The Aqua Cera is made from food-grade plastic by a US manufacturer of food containers, so you don’t need to be concerned about chemicals leaching from the plastic.  Also, bear in mind that you aren’t storing water in the filter for years on end - i.e., you are constantly running water through the filter - drinking the clean water and adding unfiltered water.  So the water you are drinking doesn’t sit in the plastic container for any length of time, so even if there were minor leaching of plastic chemicals, the water just wouldn’t be there long enough to become contaminated.

The Aqua Cera costs about $50 less than the stainless steel model, while containing the exact same Doulton ceramic candles.  In addition, the Aqua Cera is a larger filter that holds about twice as much water in both the top and bottom tanks, so this is a good choice for larger families.  Another advantage is the Aqua Cera has a raised base that lifts it off the countertop about 4 inches.  This gives you room to slip a cup under the spigot to dispense water.  With the Doulton stainless model, you must move the filter to the edge of the counter so the spigot hangs over the counter to dispense water.  Or, you can find something of your own to use as a base to raise the filter several inches.

The Doulton stainless filter is now provided with only 2 holes, though I will drill 2 additional holes at no charge if you ask me to at the time of your order.  In May, this will change and the stainless bodies will once again come from the factory with 4 holes.  With more holes, you can mount more ceramic candles.  Each candle will produce about one quart of water per hour, so a 4-filter model will produce about one gallon per hour.  The Aqua Cera comes with 5 holes, plus it is a taller filter so it can support the 10" ceramic candles (compared to the Doulton’s 7" candles).  With five 10" candles, it will make up to 7 quarts of water per hour.

All of the water filters can be viewed at http://www.stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?ref=ChrisM&action=store&page=WaterFilters  10% of your purchase price will go back to Chris in support of this website.

I am working on developing a multi-stage portable water filter that will remove sediment, chemicals and bacteria from water.  It will include a hand pump that will allow you to draw in water from a creek, spring, rain barrel, cistern, or puddle.  In addition to a sediment filter, it will include a carbon block filter with much higher chemical removal abilities than the Doulton filters.  This new filter will also contain a Doulton ceramic filter of a different design that is used in pressurized filters (the hand pump will produce the pressure).  With this system, the replacement costs of the sediment and carbon block filters will be fairly low and the ceramic filter should last for at least 2-3 years without needing to be replaced.  The basic “kit” will include extra filters.  This filter should be capable of producing about one gallon of water per minute with brisk pumping.  It won’t be a pretty table-top model, but it will have superb filtering capabilities.  I should have this kit in production by summer 2011.

Will the Doulton remove chemical concentrations? I live on a golf course in Florida. The water in the lakes/ponds within the course (my back yard) are standing water that level with the ground water table. A lot of weed and feed chemical runoff occurs and I am quite sure there is a lot of nitrates, potassium, phosporous and a bunch of other chemicals in this water, even arsenic. Will the Doulton handle it? Thanks.