9 Ways You Can Collect Water in a Crisis

We’ve all been taught the importance of storing water for an emergency. It’s kind of a no-brainer, if you think about it.

We know our main water source could be cut off following a disaster. And we know we need water to survive. So, the more drinking water we have stored in a safe place, the better off we’ll be. 

But no matter how much water we store, we could run out eventually. That’s why it’s crucial to know both where you can find water and how to collect it. There’s one more key component to this process – filtering that water – and I’ll get to that at the end.

In the meantime, let’s look at ways to find and collect the water we will need to survive if an emergency halts our normal access to water.

Collecting rainwater

First, it’s important to know in advance exactly where water sources near you are located. This could be a stream, river, pond, creek or lake.

But if rain is your only option for collecting water, there are ways to do that. Including developing a homemade system or purchasing a ready-made one.

The most simple DIY way is to cut one of your drainpipes and divert it to a large barrel. Make sure to have several barrels available so you don’t lose out during a heavy or extended rainfall.

An elaborate system features underground rainwater collection tanks. This is costly but does have the advantage of allowing you to collect water covertly.

Underground water still

Another option for collecting water is creating an underground still. First, choose a location that gets plenty of sun during daylight hours. And that is in a low-lying area.

Next, dig about 15 inches down. The sides of the hole should not be straight up and down. Rather, aim for a bowl shape.

Place your collection container in the center and cover the entire hole with plastic sheeting. Including the container.

Place a rock over the container and use other rocks to hold down the sides of the sheeting. Condensation will gather in your container. It might be difficult to collect more than one quart per day, but that’s better than nothing.

Swimming pool & hot water heater 

Yes, I know what kids do in pools. But if you have a pool used by your children or grandchildren, you may need to access that water for survival. 

Drain water from the pool into your barrels and other containers. Due to chemicals and other impurities that might be in the water, filtering is a must. 

Another place from which to collect water is inside your home. You may have as many as 30 to 60 gallons in your hot water heater.

Most hot water heaters have a valve from which you can access the water. But you will need a hose or pump to make the collection easier.

Wells and cacti

If you don’t already have a well on your property, you might consider installing one. This water could become contaminated by whatever problem is affecting the general water supply. But perhaps not as quickly.

Some of you live in Arizona or other states containing cacti. Some types can be a source for water in an emergency. But some are poisonous. 

There is an art to gaining water from a cactus. I’d recommend doing an Internet search if this is an option for you. 

Whatever you do, don’t just hack away at it with a machete. You may wind up wasting what precious little water it contains.

Dew, transpiration bags & toilets

Early in the morning, tie one clean rag around each of your feet and walk through an area of grass where dew has not yet evaporated. Then squeeze the water from those rags into a bowl.

Another option is a transpiration bag. Tie a clear plastic bag around a branch with plenty of green leaves. Water should collect in it throughout the day.

I was hesitant to mention this ninth and final one because of how gross it is. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Personally, I wouldn’t touch water in a toilet bowl unless I absolutely had to. But the six or so gallons in a toilet tank are somewhat cleaner.

5 more you can’t do

These next five methods of collecting water are impossible for the average person. I’m only mentioning them because I find them interesting. 

One is catching fog. A large vertical mesh made of screen materials can intercept the droplet stream and collect it in a storage system.

A second is cloud seeding. This technology involves dispersing small particles into clouds. This has the potential of increasing the volume of water those clouds drop.

A third is minimizing evaporation. This can be accomplished through a catchment area in a small reservoir of a cultivated area.

A fourth is desalinating seawater. If this were easy and inexpensive to do, no one in the world would ever be thirsty. But they are making strides in this area.

A fifth is iceberg harvesting. Theoretically, it is possible to move an iceberg, although there are countless environmental concerns about it. 

The best way to filter your water

Even if you had an iceberg in your backyard, you’d need to purify the water you gain from it. And as we’ve seen, a vast majority of the water available for collecting from more conventional sources will also be contaminated in one way or another.

So, you need a way to filter that water in order to stay healthy after drinking it. And using it for bathing, washing clothes, cleaning surfaces, etc.

My suggestion is the Patriot Pure Ultimate Water Filtration System. This complete countertop solution delivers clean, delicious drinking water. It removes up to 99.9% of contaminants from your drinking water.

Including heavy metals, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and much more. Easy to set up and use, it will filter more than 5,700 gallons of water.


  • Alix - January 16, 2022

    Great info

  • Linda Nurse - January 14, 2022

    Thank you SO much for the above info. I just love this sight. I have several large bottles of water stored in the basement
    of our house. I know I have to clean them every so often with bleach and refill. Can you tell me how often I should
    change the water? God bless you for 4 Patriots.
    Linda from Canada

  • Linda - January 14, 2022

    I have been receiving 4partriots for a very long time know and I have picked up many good posts on being a preppier and I know how important water collection is and it has been my priority to make sure I have water on hand, good clean drinking water. All of the above are very important to know how to collect water.

    One of the ways has been having a water filtration in my home but I know that in a crises, having more then 2 gallons on hand of filtered water is not going to hack it with the minimum of three in my home. you will need to know how much water each person needs in a day and that is one gallon of water per person.
    At present I have 55 gallons of filtered water on hand for this I had to think outside of the box because even filtered water can become stagnant. Living water is not that hard to achieve for this you will need.
    1. a 55 gallon food grade barrel
    2. a filtration system, for this I use and very good high performance filters
    3. 30% food grade hydrogen peroxide, you will only need 8 drops per gallon this will keep your water Oxidized. Your water will not become stagnant.
    In my home we consume 5 gallons of water per day and a half that means I am always filtering my water and I am able to do this with the 4 patriots water System.
    Things I look for in a water system"silver" and “carbon” but here will become a time that water will be the highest priority that will needed.
    There is so much more I can say about the importance of water in our everyday lives I just wanted to share with you a very small part of how I do this have a great day Always a Better Way

  • AK Johnny 1 - January 12, 2022

    Any decent survivalist worth his salt would say…
    The first priority in ANY emergency is securing access to potable water. Over and above food, shelter and defense. For the very reasons stated in your article above. You can live for weeks without food and permanent shelter. Without water? You got 3 days…
    So the ability to have potable and purified water should be the top investment priority for any prep plan.

  • Frank Hook - January 11, 2022

    Very good. Most people don’t think about what they need until they need it. I come from a long line of people that lived off of the land. We learned at an early age How to think ahead and to know where to find what we needed. Thanks.

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