I sometimes lament the course of my homesteading life. Not that I regret having our place and what we're doing now, I just wish we'd been able to start earlier in life. As empty nesters and first time grandparents, it seems to be a bit late to be getting started. Or perhaps I should say to return to it. My first experience (way before Dan), was back in the 1970s, although we didn't call it homesteading back then. Then, it was back to the land. And we didn't live off-grid, we just didn't have electricity. Why I left is another story, but those three years of my life laid a groundwork that has influenced me everywhere else I've lived.
I was reflecting on that as I prepared for this post. Back then, having water meant digging out a mountain spring and gravity feeding the water to a faucet in the outdoor kitchen. Since then, we've lived with city water and well water, and have learned the benefits and problems of both, including emergency situations.
We have city water now. About the only benefits to it is that it's convenient and still works when a hurricane, ice storm, or tornado knocks out the power. But it comes with a monthly bill, chemicals, and other contaminants. These effect not only taste and smell (ours is terrible on both counts), but also what we have to ingest.
Well water on the other hand, varies in taste according to location. The best we ever had was naturally sand filtered when we lived in central Florida. Nowadays well water is accessed with an electric pump, so if one's electricity is down, guess what. No water. We learned that a 55 gallon drum of stored water lasts a family of 4 for only a couple of days. Well water is not necessarily free of chemicals and contaminants either, it depends on the groundwater source. Also, we found sediment and pipe corrosion to be higher with well water. Still, if I had a choice, I'd choose well water over city water any day.
We know that when our home was first built in 1920, there was a well. We just don't know where it is. Old surveys didn't indicate things like that. Our neighbor's was where his driveway is now. He discovered it when it created a small sinkhole that tried to swallow one of their cars. He had hoped to use it for watering their garden, but alas, it was dry.
Water is an area we think important to us in a self-sufficiency sort of way. We have plans for both rainwater and greywater conservation systems (see my Assessing for Water Conservation Systems post). These are slow to implement because of time and resources (one of the reasons I was lamenting), though time on the project so far, has been well spent in research, assessment, knowledge accumulation, and planning. And Dan talks about having a well dug for us. Someday. If we're allowed. One thing that we figured we could do in a more immediate sense, was to filter our water.
Like everything else, I did a lot of research and Dan even went so far as to talk to a few sales reps. If we had well water like we used to, he would have wanted a whole house filter, but with city water, we felt our concern should focus on water for drinking and cooking. The factors we considered were contaminants filtered out, life of elements, non-energy consuming, maintenance, and price. For us, a Berkey best met our needs. The clincher was not the sales pitch, but the fact that it is a common unit on the mission field, where it is being used successfully in primitive conditions, to provide potable water from sources that none of us would otherwise dream of drinking.
I'm not trying to promote this brand, I'm just very happy with the choice we made. It suits our needs and circumstances. We noticed a difference in the taste (and smell) right away. Not to mention a sense of relief at being able to drink pure water. I'm also confident we are better prepared for a water emergency, as long as we have a source of water to filter. That's peace of mind.