Access to clean water is one of the most fundamental human needs, which makes considering your access to water an important step when planning your off-the-grid lifestyle.
Having a plan for accessing water will ease the sometimes-stressful process of adjusting to your new lifestyle and increase your chances of success.
The following are four tried-and-true ways that successful homesteaders collect their water without relying on access to state-regulated wells and water supplies.
1. Harvest Rainwater
Harvesting rainwater is a relatively easy method for collecting water that can be adjusted according to your needs and capabilities.
There are various systems you can use to collect your rainwater, including plastic barrel collection and storage, as well as tarp and underwater cistern collection.
Plastic barrels are the easiest and most effective way to harvest and store your rainwater safely. The barrels come in various shapes and sizes to suit your needs and can be purchased in food-grade plastic for those who plan to ingest the water they collect.
The barrel is attached to your existing gutter system to easily and efficiently collect rainwater. Most barrels hold over 55 gallons of water and are entirely closed off to the possibility of external contamination, making this method an excellent choice for larger homesteads that plan to solely rely on their water collection system for their water needs.
Tarps aren’t the most effective or convenient collection option, but they will do in a pinch. If you live in a particularly dry area and see a storm coming your way, you can take the opportunity to erect a tarp and make a pocket of sorts for the rainwater to pool in.
After the rainfall, it will be necessary to transfer the collected water to an additional holding method to protect it from contamination.
- This system is mostly free, and the only things you must pay for are your collection tanks.
- Rainwater collection requires little to no construction.
- Assuming you already have a gutter and pipe system installed in your house, all that you need to do is reroute your gutter system to empty into your container. This cannot be said of other methods, where it is necessary to dig or drill into the ground.
- Some states offer incentives and funding for rainwater collection to encourage eco-friendly water use.
- On the other hand, there are also states that place bans and limitations on rainwater collection, and it is best to check with your local authorities for any restrictions that may pertain to you.
- The success of this method is also dependent on the amount of rainfall that an area receives, and it may not be the best option for individuals who live in areas that typically experience drought.
2. Drill a Well
Drilling a well is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of accessing water without tapping into a city water system. This is because drilling a well is one of the best and most traditional methods for accessing large amounts of fresh water.
With that being said, drilling a well can also be incredibly costly, both to install and to maintain.
- Wells can be run by both electrical and manual pumps. Keep in mind that if you have a power shortage, you won’t have access to your water if you are using an electrical pump, and it is best to install a manual back-up pump or get a generator in preparation for the unexpected.
- Wells can hold huge volumes of water, which makes them an excellent option for larger homesteads and farms.
- It is quite uncommon, but wells can run dry. Remember to check your area’s underground water table and rainfall levels before drilling, as these would heavily influence the success of your well.
- Underground water sources are not immune to contaminants and chemicals, and your well can become contaminated. If you decide to install a well, it is necessary to have your water regularly checked by a professional for bacteria and lead.
- Before you seriously start considering a well, check with your local town hall or department of public works and make sure that drilling a personal well is allowed in your area. Generally, drilling a well is almost always permitted in rural areas that cannot be served by utility companies, but it is always best to double check before starting to drill.
- If you do decide to install your own well, keep in mind that any mistakes made during construction can be incredibly costly down the road. If you do need to repair your well or any pipes, it is likely you will require professional help to do so.
3. Humidity Collection Systems
Using technology to lock in humidity and collect water is a relatively new concept that can only be utilized in warm and humid areas.
Humidity collection systems use a turbine to pull moisture from the air that is then cooled to a temperature that is below the dew point, allowing water droplets to form. Those water droplets then collect in a water storage compartment.
- This system pulls water from the air and instantly cleanses it, eliminating the need for a purification system.
- Humidity collection systems are the cutting edge in water collection technology, making them one of the most efficient and technologically advanced means of doing so available to homesteaders.
- That relative newness, however, means that there is also much room for improvement, and the technology itself is still in the development stages.
- Since this method is quite innovative, it is relatively expensive and finding a cheap alternative is difficult. However, as the practice becomes more popular, more information and DIY techniques will become available.
- Humidity collection systems do require a power source, whether that is solar or traditional power.
4. Water Delivery
If the other collection methods listed above are not possible or too costly in your area, you could consider a water delivery service.
This is an excellent option for individuals who are looking to live full-time on a rural property but don’t want to be burdened with upkeep or cannot commit to the physical demand of maintaining a water collection system.
- Water delivery services require no effort on your part.
- Unlike some of the other options on this list, they also guarantee a consistent and reliable water supply.
- Electing to pay for a water delivery system, while the lowest maintenance, may also be the costliest option available to you, depending on your water needs.
There are many different systems to choose from when it comes to accessing water off-the-grid.
The method you choose typically comes down to how much money you are able or willing to spend on the development and use of your device as well as your source of electricity. If you don’t plan to use any electricity for your water collection system, you are better off sticking with natural collection methods such as rainwater harvesting.
After considering these factors, take a look at the logistics of your home for your final decision. If there are any issues regarding the climate or amount of rainfall, they may limit the options that are available to you.
No matter which method, or combination of methods you choose, water collection can be a worthwhile endeavor for your off-the-grid lifestyle as long as you do your research and take the right precautions before making your final decision.