drought survival

Drought Survival

Man incredibly continues to believe he can outsmart Mother Nature. He diverts entire rivers to suit his needs with zero care about the effects on the environment. He builds levies and defies nature to attempt to breach them. He dams rivers creating lakes for his enjoyment and to provide water for cities that are built on sandy, unstable soil. He proclaims this progress, this is what makes man king of the universe. Drought survival is very rarely, if ever, contained in any environmental impact study and with the new “Who Cares” EPA it’s doubtful impact studies will even be performed let alone heeded.

As usual, Mother Nature has a counter measure for man’s attempt to shape the world. If man won’t stop altering nature’s idea of water usage, it just cuts off the water supply. Such is the case in many Western and Southwestern states including California, Texas, and Arizona. All three are mired in a severe drought situation, which could ultimately change the entire landscape of the United States.

I don’t know if man refuses to learn from history, or the greed of some make the misery of the masses inconsequential, but there was something called the Dust Bowl. Also referred to as the “dirty thirties” which lasted for a decade, its long term financial consequences lasted much longer.  There were many factors that contributed to the severity of the dust bowl, but the original culprit was no rainfall of any consequential amount. People are under the misconception that a week long thunderstorm event replenishes a year of drought conditions. Not even close. A drop in the bucket as the saying goes.

Severe drought hit the Midwest and Southern Great Plains in 1930, creating conditions that allowed massive dust storms to completely restructure that part of the United States. A series of drought years followed, further exacerbating the environmental disaster. By 1934, an estimated 35 million acres of formerly cultivated land had been rendered useless for farming. Another 125 million acres—an area roughly three-quarters the size of Texas—was rapidly losing its topsoil.

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What can you do now to get ready?

Droughts may not be front page news. It seems nobody has picked up on the severity, and if they mention it they never address the root cause. Unfortunately, I believe that within our life time the issue of water deficiency will become a huge issue. As preppers we can not wait for the politicians to develop answers, we must begin preparing on how to incorporate drought survival techniques into our everyday life.

There are three basic steps to begin with:

  1. Monitor local conditions and create a plan. Obviously someone in Florida will not confront the same problems as someone living in Texas. In fact Florida is actually experiencing flooding because there’s too much water, from climate warming and rising sea levels, causing water to seep up through the soil into streets.
  2. Purchase or develop a system for collecting rain water. The worse thing that can happen is watching water you desperately need disappear into the ground.
  3. Learn how to conserve water in your home and daily routines.

Water collection is essential for drought survival

Collecting rainwater in rain barrels is not a new technique, ancient Romans utilized the idea to collect water to use during dry periods. Closer to home, Rural communities have used this technique for hundreds of years, but with the transition from rural to urban living, the techniques employed to provide clean water for city dwellers displaced the idea. In fact it became a stigma using such systems demonstrated poorer education or being less cultivated as your neighbors.

That stigma has been destroyed and replaced by awareness of our environmental challenges and actually advertises higher education and concern for the habitat, a rise in society. Rain barrels come in many sizes and are becoming more decorative, thus being used as a landscape element. When you consider the typical home provides @500 gallons of runoff during a 1 inch rain, it doesn’t take long to fill a 50 gallon barrel. If you don’t care about saving water … how about saving money. As water becomes more scarce the cost of it will skyrocket. Use less water, save more money.

Storing water for drought survival is easy and safe, as it can be safely stored for an indefinite amount of time with no ill effects (especially if you filter your water before you drink it). There are specialized containers, recommended, intended solely for water storage that keeps the water from becoming stagnant. Should you choose to store water outside the house, store it on the north side of a structure to minimize the sun’s UV light from deteriorating the container, increasing product life of your entire stash.

Landscaping for Drought

Landscaping around a house not only increases a home’s value, but can save money in other ways. It can provide shade or a wind break and save on utility costs. Plant trees and shrubs which are well suited for low moisture soil. Examples of such types are blue junipers, burning bush, blue mist, butterfly bush, red maples, American elms… the list goes on and on. Check with your local nursery for specific plants for your area.

Raise the cutting height of your mower and leave the clippings on the lawn instead of raking and bagging. Taller grass holds moisture better. Use a good amount of mulch around all shrubs and trees as it doesn’t only retain moisture, but prevents run off, moderates soil temperatures and helps restrict weed growth.

Firescape your home. Little if any thought is given to building a fire barrier around your home through landscaping. Planting low growing, low flammable species of plants decreases the chance of the fire reaching your house and increases your chances of being able to put the flames out before real damage is incurred. Evaluate and remove any foliage considered “ladder fuels,” plants like vines and shrubs which the flames can use to climb to the roof of the house.

Conserving Water at Home

It may drive you bonkers, but there’s nothing you can do about your neighbors’ actions. Like the idiot that leaves the water running from the open hose the entire time he’s washing his car instead of shutting it off until he needs it to rinse. You are only responsible for your own little bit of paradise. Saying that, let’s look at ways to conserve water at home:

  • Make sure the dishwasher is full before turning it on. A normal dishwasher will use 8 – 10 gallons of water per cycle. Lot of water to wash 3 or 4 pans and some silverware.
  • Wash only full loads of clothes. Each load of laundry uses 50 gallons of water or more.
  • Use a bowl of water to clean fruits and vegetables rather than running water over them. When finished cleaning, use the bowl to water house plants.
  • If hand washing dishes don’t let the water run continuously. It’s a little more work turning the water on and off, but the savings could be substantial.
  • When taking a bath, fill the tub half way full, saving 10-15 gallons of water.
  • Take shorter showers. Standing under hot running water may feel relaxing but it uses 3-5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Everyone has heard this one, but its true. Don’t let the water continuously run while brushing your teeth. Faucets use 2-3 gallons of water per minute.
  • Don’t use the toilet for a trash can. Don’t blow your nose or wipe your makeup and throw the Kleenex into the toilet and flush it. Huge waste of water.

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