Drinking water can (and should) be stored for easy access should an emergency arise. Emergencies could range from floods, to storms, to simple contamination of your culinary water supply (it happens all the time when a raccoon or other animal falls into the water tank).
Water should be stored in containers that aren’t prone to rusting. Today that means food-grade polyethylene plastics. Containers can vary from around ten-gallons to a more common 55-gallon, all the way up to hundreds of gallons.
Where you store your water is going to depend on what size containers you have, and how many of them you have. Regardless, a few rules of thumb should be followed:
- Away from sunlight: even with UV-inhibitors added to the plastic, the sun will eventually take its toll on virtually any container (not just plastic ones); the darker the storage area, the better, algae cannot grow in the dark.
- Away from petroleum fuel and exhaust: hydrocarbon vapors can penetrate most types of plastics. Storing your drinking water in a shed where you also store gasoline, oil, kerosene, or other fuels; or where you park your lawn mower, snow blower, four-wheeler, car, truck, boat, snowmobile, etc. is advised against. Other stuff to be wary of: paints, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
- Not on cement: don’t place any storage vessel directly on cement. Instead, raise if off the floor by a few inches to allow for airflow. Just make sure you properly support the weight.
- Clean surface: If you place a plastic container on a surface that you haven’t swept, and there just happens to be a pebble (or some other small debris), once you add water to the container there is a high probability that the debris will punch a hole in your container. It’s happened before.
- Using your stored water: if you store your water elevated above the area that you’ll be using it you can siphon the water — yes! Actual running water! Keep in mind, this makes using your water easier — which usually means you’ll use it up quicker, and there’s a possibility of “leaving the faucet running”.