Economic Collapse 101: How to Prepare for Water Supply Disruptions

I’ve already explained how and why the US has placed itself on the irreversible path toward economic collapse. Suffice it to say that our entire economic system, led by the Federal Reserve, is a massive Ponzi scheme that has been running for over 100 years now.

It’s a ticking time bomb — and the fuse is getting visibly shorter with each passing day.

How long can the Fed continue printing money and manipulating the bond market in order to keep the illusion of prosperity going? Unfortunately, nobody knows. Our economic house of cards can come crashing down next week. Then again, the Fed may continue to successfully pull rabbits out of its bag of monetary tricks for another 20 years, although I sincerely doubt it.

What is certain is that, when the collapse finally does happen, events will unfold rapidly — and with a vengeance.

The good news is that financial collapse almost certainly won’t lead to the complete breakdown of society. Even so, there will be temporary pain for almost everyone — and the people who will end up suffering the most are those who are dependent on any form of government assistance and … the unprepared.

Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Clean, running tap water is something most of us take for granted. After all, there’s nothing easier than going to the nearest tap, turning the handle, and being instantly greeted with as much water as you want. It’s ridiculously cheap too. Even here, in arid Southern California, I’m paying a mere half-cent per gallon for the stuff.

It wasn’t always that way. Before the advent of modern plumbing, getting water required a bit of effort; most people had to grab a bucket or two and then walk outside to a spring, or a well serviced by a hand pump.

Of course, the luckiest folks had their water source nearby. Remember, water is heavy; a single pint of it weighs about one pound — that’s eight pounds per gallon! How far do you think you could lug a bulky five gallon container of water if you had to?

My daughter Nina recently got a small taste of just how dependent we are on our local municipality after a valve on my property failed that left our home without a source of running water for almost eleven hours.

It’s easy to underestimate how much water you use everyday until you no longer have it. In Nina’s case, it didn’t take long for her to feel the inconvenience of not having a ready and plentiful supply of clean water. She couldn’t take her morning shower, and the family had to ration our toilet flushes. We had to postpone washing our clothes and the dishes too. The lack of water also limited our cooking options, and even made brushing teeth a challenge.

When it comes to the most important survival items, water is at the top of the list. What would you do if your water service was disrupted for a week, or even a month?

Emergency Water Storage

Most people can survive in a dire emergency by drinking as little as one quart of water per day, but that’s leaves nothing available for anything else.

I currently have an emergency water supply totaling 168 gallons; that’s enough water to ensure each member of my family has one gallon per day for 42 days. I used a special water preservative containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite to help ensure my stored water stays drinkable for at least five years.

My emergency water is stored in special 3.5-gallon stackable containers with handles called “water bricks” that constrain the entire supply within a compact area measuring just 54-inches long by 48-inches high by 18-inches deep.

True, at approximately $18 each, the water bricks aren’t cheap; on a per-gallon basis, they’re typically more than twice the cost of a 55-gallon potable-water storage drum. However, for me, the utility and smaller storage footprint of the water bricks were well worth the additional cost.

Here’s a picture of my set up:

A Few Additional Tips

  • To handle extended emergencies, I bought a top-of-the-line pocket water microfilter from Katadyn that is capable of purifying 13,000 gallons of contaminated water. They cost roughly $250.
  • If you live in a multistory home, you can use gravity to drain water that’s in the upstairs pipes. Just open an upstairs tap and then drain the water from a first floor (or basement) faucet.
  • Remember, in desperate times, your hot water heater can be used as an emergency water source. Before you do, make sure you shut off the water intake valve and then turn off any power or gas going to the heater.
  • Swimming pool water can be used for hygiene purposes. You shouldn’t drink it, however, unless you properly filter it first.

The Bottom Line

After our water service was finally restored, Nina looked at me and said, “Now I know why we have so much water stored up for an emergency, Dad.”

Yep. Even though we didn’t need to use it, my daughter no longer thinks her dear old dad is quite so crazy for keeping all that emergency water on hand.

Now, do I think the local authorities will have enough spare parts on hand to keep the city water supply functioning without any intermittent disruptions during an economic collapse? Beats me. But I’m not waiting to find out.

Photo Credit: bludgeoner86


  1. 1


    This is a topic most of us do not think much about. We will only likely start thinking about it when the actual hardship occurs. I agree with you, that time will eventually come and it likely will not take 100 more years.

  2. 2

    Spedie says

    Does your Katydn filter out chemicals? I have a nice wide stream new by, by it is foamy. I think it is contamined with chemicals due to careless humans. I have bout 50 gallons at my place that I bought at the store in those 2 gallon type containers. There is only 2 in my household and I have my hot tub for flushing if necessary. I wonder about the chemicals in my stream down the block though.

    • 3

      Len Penzo says

      The Katadyn Pocket filters out microorganisms, bacteria, protozoa and cysts, and removes sediment and particles at a rate of 1 quart per minute. However, it doesn’t remove chemicals, although the box does state that it “reduces” them. (Take that for what it’s worth.)

      Caveat: The 13,000 gallon capacity I mentioned in the article is dependent upon the quality of the water being filtered. So, the worse the water, the lower the capacity. If all you are filtering is muddy gook, you can’t expect the filter to last that long.

      Caveat #2: The Katadyn Pocket can’t guarantee the removal of all viruses. However, you can eliminate those by getting a special virus filter.

  3. 5


    In our neighborhood, deep in woods, we won’t have town tap water. The system pumps out water to a container (looks like a water heater but with 30 gallons capacity) inside the house in the basement. We’d definitely have problems if there was no electricity.

  4. 6

    Bree says

    Len, thank you for these articles. They are very important and you are helping a lot of people like me who feel trouble is coming but don’t know where to begin.

  5. 8


    We’ve got just 14 gallons stored, mainly in the event of the mega-thrust quake we’re due for one of these days, not economic collapse. I’m counting on rainwater to keep us going, as we live in a rainforest type climate.

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      I hear ya, Kurt. At its closest point, the San Andreas fault is 25 miles from my home. So my emergency water supply is actually doing double-duty for me too as insurance against potential water system failure due to “the Big One” striking.

  6. 14


    Do you think if I start mass bottling water now theres a business in it for me in the future Len? Bottled water, who wouldv’e thought it.

    • 15

      Len Penzo says

      Wow, I never considered store-bought bottled water, Thomas. Thanks for the tip. /s

      If you’re going to only store 10 or 20 gallons of water, then yes, bottled water may be a better choice. But that would support me and my family for only two to five days. If you’re really prepping for a longer-term disruption that requires more water, not so much.

      The 168 gallons I have stored up came from my tap and cost me all of 84 cents. So financially speaking, the price tag for the water bricks or the less-expensive 55-gallon drums is more than reasonable considering I’m also buying the utility of an extremely convenient storage medium — which for a lot of folks like myself is very important. Many people don’t have the space — or desire — to sacrifice the footprint required to store the equivalent of 34 bulky 5-gallon jugs in their homes, or 37 cases of 24 oz sport-bottles.

      Then again, maybe space isn’t an issue where you live.

      One last point, the water bricks and drums are more resistant to mice and rats. I know this from experience. I had a rat chew through and destroy 10 gallons of bottled water I had stored in my home. The thin plastic was a tempting target and no problem for them. I’m not worried about that happening to my water bricks; I’m not saying its fool-proof, but I know the thick plastic definitely makes it a less-tempting and more-secure target.

  7. 16

    Kyle Sanderson says

    We have 6500 gallons of water stored in a radiation resistant fallout shelter. We have 5 years of MREs, anti-diarrhea medication, a massive supply of anti-biotics, 3 cross bows, and a human waste powered generator. I hear you,Len. We are not taking any chances. Great post!

  8. 18


    Water is definitely in finite supply. I haven’t started stock-piling water, but I should probably start thinking about a really good water filter and a few gallons!

  9. 19

    Betsy22 says

    I’m going to take another perspective and point out that water management is a good example of the services that government is currently providing – maybe too efficiently, actually. I always hear people complain that government does nothing, but most of us suburban/city dwellers have water when we turn on the taps and have sewage systems to take our waste away and we never think about how valuable and amazing those services are. If there’s a problem, then people complain (rightly or wrongly), but aren’t thankfull for the majority of days where everything is going smoothly. Yes, I know that some people are on well water and septic, but the rest of us are getting our water/sewer through government services….just something to think about when it’s time to pay taxes.

    • 20

      Len Penzo says

      Great points, Betsy. I agree; our water supply infrastructure is definitely one area of government where usually get more than our money’s worth.

    • 21


      When people complain about the government, its usually not because they don’t provide services that people need and appreciate, it is usually because the government imposes and parcels out monopolies on those services.

      The government gets its funding by force either through taxing people or corporations. No matter the level of quality they provide, they will remain funded, which is why they are so inefficient in most services they provide, and even in services where they are somewhat efficient like in the provision of water, their mere existence prevents other innovations and ideas from taking off.

      Only government approved ideas get tested and implemented instead of letting the market sort it out and the best solutions will win out because of costs and practicality.

      There is more complexity to the issue than you may have been aware of.

  10. 23

    Sam says

    So this week the market freaked out when Bernanke hinted that the Fed might think about starting to taper. The market seems to think the Fed has the wherewithal to control inflation. This doesn’t change at all your view that hyperinflation is coming rather than just slower growth and low interest rates like Japan?

    • 24

      Len Penzo says

      Deflation first, followed by hyperinflation. Severe deflation — which is death to a debtor — will be the event that leads our policymakers to purposely spark hyperinflation. At some point, worsening deflation will inevitably lead to financial panic by the biggest debtors; it has to.

      Hyperinflation will be the Fed’s last ditch effort to keep its debt-based Ponzi scheme from collapsing.

      And it will fail.

      (By the way, hyperinflation isn’t occurring now because 1) we are the world’s reserve currency and 2) monetary velocity is shrinking. Shrinking money velocity is because most of the Fed money is being held as banking reserves on Wall Street, and not finding its way into the economy. When the Fed is ready to spark hyperinflation, all it has to do is deliver the money directly to people’s bank accounts here on Main Street. Loss of reserve currency status — and it has been slowly crumbling for more than a decade now — will also eventually spark hyperinflation as all of those dollars abroad come back to US shores.)

      (Japan could tolerate deflation for 20 years because during that time it carried a robust trade surplus. That has been slowly changing over time and Japan is now carrying monthly trade deficits. Unless you are the world’s reserve currency, it’s extremely tough to hold as much debt as Japan has, and keep interest rates and inflation down when you are a net importer. We’re finally seeing creeping inflation now in Japan as a result — and they will pay dearly for it. Kyle Bass, who has famously called other crises in the past, has declared Japan passed the point of no return and its entire banking system will implode within 18 to 24 months. Is his timeline correct? Beats me. The bigger concern for me is, will Japan’s demise take the rest of the world with it?)

  11. 25

    Sam says

    The Fed can’t actually deliver money to people’s bank accounts, that would have to pass a House that is just as afraid of hyperinflation as you are :)

    Yet it still has been enough to prevent deflation (the Fed hasn’t bought every 10 year note available yet after all).

    Here’s what I think is going to happen: Rates jump, borrowers again dry up, rates fall again. We will continue this sawtooth recovery, with Bill Gross making money on the mom and pops who sell into the yield spikes. This will go on for several more years or until the Fed adopts NGDP growth targeting.

    Come over to the conservative reformer side Len! NGDP! NGDP!

    • 26

      Len Penzo says

      Did you see how easily Congress caved during the last crisis when they agreed to the bank bailouts in 2008 (which, by the way, sent us down the slippery slope to the mess we’re in today)?

      If they caved back then, when the banking system wasn’t on the verge of collapse, what makes you think they’ll suddenly grow a backbone this time, when the banking system WILL be on the verge of collapse?

      Also, rates can’t jump too much. At the moment, the US interest payments on the $17 trillion National Debt account for 20% of tax revenues — that’s with historically low interest rates. The national debt will be $20 trillion in a few years. If interest rates double from here to a still-modest 5%, interest payments on the debt will consume 40 percent of total current federal tax revenues. The only way that would work is if massive cuts to entitlement and defense spending were implemented — bigger than anything experienced so far. You think the government will suddenly see the light and begin making difficult decisions they haven’t been able to make in the past, when the choices were easier? I don’t. Not for a minute. They’ll just keep running deficits until the currency implodes.

  12. 27

    debbie z says

    You can also add an underground cistern to store rainwater. Many old homes already have one that may have a 500 to 1500 gallon capacity.

    One thing no one seems to think about is that when “the day” arrives everyone will need to be able to go back to manual labor methods to do Everything. You will need real work boots, gloves and tools. And anyone who knows how to get things up and running without electricity, gasoline etc will not go hungry, thirsty or be too hot or cold. I am amazed that no one seems to know how to build punkah fans that ool

  13. 28

    Le Rationale says

    I’m curious why no one has mentioned lifesaver bottles here. Assuming you don’t live in an extremely dry climate, this is seriously game-changing technology. There are downsides, but assuming you are storing these bottles (they make a jerrycan too), any source of water (not sure about saltwater) is now drinkable. They filter down to smaller than the smallest known virus. There is a great TED talk about it.

    It’s much cheaper and easier than storing clean water.


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