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Drought, earthquake, zombie apocalypse — water supply is key

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Bottles of mineral water.
Image Source/Getty Images
Bottles of mineral water.

Whether in preparation for earthquake or drought, we wanted to know: What are the best ways to store water and cut down on how much water we use?

If California's much anticipated "big one" were to hit today, would you be ready?

When we've talked about this before, one of the things our experts emphasized was the importance of storing water. Southern California takes the majority of its water from faraway resources, so in the event of a major disaster, the area would likely be cut off from its water source.

Because April is earthquake preparedness month, we thought we'd turn to an expert on what to do in an emergency -- someone's who's all about preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Christopher Nyerges has been teaching survival preparedness in L.A. for over 40 years. Whether it's the big one, or if you just want to get ready in case there's another drought, Nyerges has a few tips on how to improve and store up your own water supply.

Storing water 101

  • Nyerges uses barrels, the kind used for pickles and other foods, but that's not the only way to store water.
  • The cheapest way to get water storage containers is to get discards from the food service industry, though this takes a little time and effort.
  • Easiest and most convenient way would be to reuse small, run-of-the-mill plastic water containers.

Pro-tip: Christopher recommends using the plastic containers that house carbonated water. "I specifically save those because those will last up to five or six years before springing a leak," he says.

Debunking an old myth: "People used to suggest adding chlorine to your water if you're going to store water if you're worried about an earthquake," said Nyerges, "You already have it in your tap water." The only reason you'd add chlorine because it might develop algae in a few years time. It's not toxic, it's just a natural occurrence.

Take control as an individual

  • Gray water— According to Nyerges, recycling is not that difficult to do. "If you have an orchard, garden or small yard you can take kitchen, sink and tub water and put it in the yard pretty safely. You just have to move perhaps move a hose around."
  • Rainwater—"You don't really need a rain barrel per se, but you need something clean," advised Nyerges, "You need a food grade plastic and you put it out under your gutters where the rain drains off of your roof."

Litmus test—Nyerges also recommends testing the acidity of rain collected, especially if you plan to use it for drinking. However, if it's strictly for the yard it doesn't matter.

Pro-tip: When it comes to collecting rainwater, Nyergest has often encouraged people to paint their roofs white. "There's a liquid rubber product that building supply places sell. It's for RV's, typically to make it cooler..."

When using this product, the rainwater slides off the rubber roof and doesn't collect the grime and dirt one may get on regular types of roofs.

Some other simple tips:

  • Don't have plants that require a lot of water. Grow drought-tolerant plants or native plants that produce food.
  • Shower aerators are an easily installed option that can cut down your water use by up to 50 percent!
  • Don't wash your car. Nyerges says, it's just a waste.
  • Make a note of your usage— carry around a notebook with you and jot down how much water you're using on an average day. See where there's room for cuts.
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