The sad news is you can’t just fill those containers of water and forget about them for the next twenty-five years like you can with most of your dried food. Stored water needs to be changed out every six months.
But don’t be discouraged; you’ve already bought all the stuff you need: containers, hose, and filter. That 7 gallon container has a handle for a reason. Just lug it back out to the yard, pour it out on the lawn or the garden, and fill it up again. Don’t forget to put in fresh chlorine bleach though, and get it from a newly purchased bottle. Remember chlorine bleach has a short shelf life, and you want yours to be potent so it can do its job.
You can also simply use the water for drinking and cooking as you go, rotating your stock in accordance with which container is due next for a refill. You can set the Aqua-Tainer on its side and dispense the water right from the spigot for your daily use. Or, if you have a sturdy shelf in the laundry room, you can keep it in there and out of sight, pouring the water into a pitcher or two as you need it. That way you aren’t wasting any water, and you’ll know when it’s time to refill a particular container because it will be empty.
One of the reasons you’re replacing the water is because after six months the chlorine is beginning to degrade, and not long after that, it may no longer be able to fully protect your supply from algae and bacteria. Also, if you leave your water alone too long, it may end up tasting stale when you finally do get to it.
So, it’s important that you don’t neglect this routine. You may be able to stash your cases of dehydrated, canned food off in a far corner, but you’d better keep all your water close enough to get to. You don’t want this to turn into a major project, so choose easy and keep your water accessible.
A very important thing you’ll want to do -and something almost everyone neglects- is to label each jug of water so you know when it was you filled it last.
The Aqua-Tainer and the Desert Patrol both have rough plastic exteriors, so if you try to stick an adhesive label on them, they’ll just fall off. What you need to do is go to the office supply store and get some of those tags that look like coroner’s toe tags. You can just twist the elastic band around the top of the cap.
Use a permanent marker so it doesn’t smear, and write the date you last filled the container. You might want to write “filtered” on the tag also just so you know. (As we talked about earlier, you might have a container of non-filtered water around for washing and other uses.) There’s no need to use a new tag each time you change out; just leave enough space to write the date on the tag for several rotations. You could even number your containers if you want.
THEN, REMEMBER TO CHANGE OUT THE WATER EVERY SIX MONTHS.
It’s not going to be devastating if you let it go an extra few weeks, or even a month or two, but don’t let time get away from you. You may also want to write it on your calendar as a reminder.
The task may seem daunting if you decide to wait and change your water out all at once, so don’t make a big project out of it. Refill those containers one at a time as they become due, or two or three at a time if you have a whole bunch of them. Again, the longer you put it off, the more you’ll have to do at once, and the more you have to do, the longer you’re apt to put it off until you “have the time.”
The point is, don’t make it so difficult that you keep putting it off; there really isn’t time to play around about this. Think how you’ll feel if the day comes when you need fresh water and you didn’t stay on top of things. Remember, you and your family are going to be the ones drinking this water. How fresh your water actually is will be up to you.
Whatever you do, don’t get caught with a bunch of empty containers lying around simply because you never got around to refilling them. Procrastination is the reason you’re only just now reading about how to do this in the first place.
You’re going to have to filter it again
It’s true you pre-filtered your water at the hose, but you’re going to want to filter it again before you drink it. But don’t worry, that’s easy.
The RV filter you used when putting the water into the container is suitable, but it’s not the best around. It’s just good enough to serve the purpose. Smart RV owners don’t rely just on the filter that cleans the water as it goes into the tank; most also keep a higher quality counter-top water filter by the sink to filter the water even further. Besides, you’ll want to get that chlorine out of the water that you had to put in when you stored it six months earlier.
The very best water filter I’ve ever seen, hands down, is the Berkey Water Filter, so do what you can to get one of those if you don’t have one already. It sits on your counter, and you pour your water in the top tank. Gravity slowly filters the water down to the bottom reservoir where a spigot delivers it right to your glass. The reservoir holds more than a day’s worth of water, pure and ready.
I’ve seen brown, scummy pond water poured into the top of a Berkey filter come out clean and clear below. And you can also get extra attachments for the Berkey that will filter fluoride from the water. I haven’t been able to find any other commercial filters that claimed to filter out fluoride. I wouldn’t think of drinking any water that has not been filtered through my Berkey, let alone water that has been sitting around for six months.
Seriously, I wouldn’t depend on anything other than a Berkey, especially during hard times when the municipal water supply may be more iffy than it already is.