There may come a time when you find yourself in a city with no running water due to any number of reasons such as massive power outage, earthquake that has destroyed infrastructure, Dams running dry as they are in South Africa or problems with the economy like in Venezuela.

In places like these an elsewhere it becomes increasingly difficult to find water to purify and drink. There are some places that you can look to as potential sources at least for a temporary measure.

For the long run

Liquids from canned goods – many cans of vegetables and some fruits are packed with water to help preserve the foods inside. This water is potable water and if there is some hesitation can easily be boiled inside of the can on a fire to kill off bacteria that might be present. Except in the case of spoiled product, in which case it is better to forgo consuming any of it to avert the risk of contracting a food borne illness.

Golf courses and parks – Most parks and golf courses will have some body of water in them. Following normal procedures for water purification it is fairly safe to drink. Bear in mind that most field purification techniques will not take out chemical contaminants in the water.

Toilet tank (not the bowl) – while not the most pleasant thing to think about the water in a toilet comes from the same pipes as your kitchen sink and the rest of the house or apartment. The only difference is the continued use of it in one way or another and how clean it is kept.  All needs to be treated. Besides obvious biological contamination it can be used after a quick purification process. All water from a toilet can be used. It is your discretion which looks more appatising in survival situation.

Another thing to be mindful of is that most decontamination processes will not remove chemical cleaners from the water. Distilling is probably the only method that has the potential to readily remove chemical contaminants but this is only if the contaminant have a boiling point lower than water.

Hot tub – Hot tubs are more biologically contaminated than toilets. The same processes of decontamination need to be maintained but it can be used in an absolute emergency.

Radiators – Hard particulates like rust need to be strained out before running

Water beds – Water beds will typically have a lot of chemicals that keep bacteria from growing in them. The best way to deal with this is Distilling with a carbon filter which is 99% effective. Other methods such as  reverse osmosis and even Filtering are also effective but require far more maintenance to function properly.

Swimming pool – Swimming pools will have water but will typically have a lot more chemicals in them as well. Which could include bromine. Bromine doesn’t have a smell or taste and causes chemical burns and irritation. The most effective way to remove it is through reverse osmosis.

Rainwater catchment – Rainwater catchment is the capture of rainwater, most commonly in barrels or tanks, for household, landscape or commercial use. Rain itself is normally fine to collect. Just make sure that you use the tarp and container method as described. There is a little talk of rainwater being polluted but in most circumstances if you wait until the first bit of rainfall the water should have passed out most of the pollutants. This does not apply if your area or the area that you are in is prone to “Acid Rain”.

Roofs – Rain water can be collected from roof runoff in the city. The main thing to be concerned of is not to collect the first “wash” of water from them as it will contain nearly all the contaminants that have deposited on the roof. Usually this is the first ¼ inch of rain that is collected. Fecal Coliform can be very high above healthy guidelines, PAH


Don’t drink water that has collected on the ground of a city. This water will be so contaminated with runoff oil from vehicles and other sources of chemical pollutants that it is next to impossible to purify without the aid of specially designed industrial equipment.

The rule of thumb for a city is that the higher the water source the less contaminants are present. Still, as always make your best efforts to decontaminate and purify all water sources.

We don't text you like a crazy ex-girlfriend. Sign up and receive our newsletter for updates of our latest articles.