Many people exhibit some level of confusion when it comes to “treating” water for storage. Let’s see what we can do to eliminate some of that confusion!
Put simply, the way you “treat” your water for storage depends on two things: how it will be stored, and where you got the water from in the first place.
Treating water taken from a muddy ditch is different from treating water taken from a clear lake, which will be different from treating water taken from a brook or stream, which will be different still from water taken from a fast-running river, and different still from water taken from a spring, or collected rainwater.
Water that may not require additional treatment
Most of us will be storing water that’s delivered from a municipal water system, and has been chlorinated prior to being sent to our homes. This water is pre-treated! No additional “treatment” is needed before storing water from this source in a prepared water storage vessel.
Chlorine evaporates rather quickly, but as long as your containers are closed, and you’re not opening and closing them frequently, your water will store just fine — probably for years and years. However, I recommend a 6-month storage cycle: every six months, empty your water storage containers and refill them with fresh, municipal water.
Don’t let this water to go waste! You can use it, drink it, wash with it, bathe with it, or use it to water your garden or lawn — don’t let it just run down the gutter, put it to beneficial use!
This assumes that you’ve got good, quality municipal water coming out of the faucet. If you do, great! If you don’t, you may want to filter the water before you store it. It’s up to you and your circumstances.
Water that requires treatment
If you’re getting your water from another source (a well or spring, or from rainwater) you’ll probably want to do some additional “preparation” before storing your water. Basic filtration will remove a lot of “offensive” particles from the water, but you’ll probably want to “treat” water from these sources.
Even spring- and well-water can and do carry contaminants. If you don’t know your water, filter and treat it just to be safe.
Water to avoid
Water that comes from stagnant sources should be avoided where possible. Water from ponds, lakes, and slow running streams or creeks should be addressed cautiously or avoided completely.
Obviously, water tainted with sewage should be avoided, though in extremes (and with the proper treatment) your own urine could be converted into drinkable water. Though, again, if you have water from other sources, you’ll probably want to avoid this “source” as well.
Water to use with caution
Water from fast-running rivers is generally considered “cleaner” than those from the previously mentioned sources, but it’s still not “clean”, and still requires filtration and treatment prior to use.