Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Contaminated water awareness goes mainstream?
Last week I published some thoughts about emergency water supplies, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Now Accuweather has put up two interesting articles dealing with the threat from contaminated water following a hurricane, and how to deal with the problem.
I highly recommend reading both articles, as well as my earlier article and a longer one that I wrote on the same subject some years before. Many people put some effort into storing emergency food supplies, but pay little or no attention to their need for water, keeping only a few flats of 16-20 ounce bottles of water on hand. That may supply drinking water for a few days, but it won't be enough for cooking, personal hygiene, etc.
Furthermore, I'm hearing many reports from survivors of both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that sewer lines 'backwashed', flooding bathrooms (if not entire homes) with the contents of sewers pushed back up into toilets, baths and basins by overflowing storm water. This is particularly problematic if you plan to fill your bath in an emergency, to use it as a water reserve. Even the smallest backflow will ruin that water. As the old saying goes, "If you add a glass of wine to a barrel of sewage, you have a barrel of sewage. If you add a glass of sewage to a barrel of wine, you have a barrel of sewage!" What's more, any sewer backflow that overflows your toilet(s), basin(s), bath(s) or shower(s) will cause a major contamination problem, one that will probably require (expensive) professional attention to clean up.
It begins to look more and more desirable to install a sewer backflow valve to prevent this problem, particularly in flood-prone areas. FEMA has instructions on how to do that (link is to an Adobe Acrobat file in .PDF format). Even though we don't live in a flood-prone area, I'm going to look into that as part of our next residential upgrade.