The First Community Activity- Water Gathering
A lot of people will be afraid in the event that the SHTF. The shock that our economic system and anything else that supports has failed will simply overwhelm their senses. The facade of civilization will be disrupted. Suddenly the availability of common supplies and services will be gone. Their jobs will be gone. Accumulated wealth- gone.
In that kind of event, it will remain to be seen what will happen. You can either let the chips fall where they may, relying completely on randomness and the vagaries of who decides to be vocal and organize a community, or you can participate in the community building to help mold or shape it. It's ultimately in your family's self-interest to do so.
The most persuasive way to help organize the community is by direct action that will clearly communicate everyday that pooling resources helps everyone.
The most vital community resource is clean water. Everyone needs water in three days or they will die.
Most natural water sources are a considerable distance from your home. While it is entirely possible to gather water at certain times of the year from rainfall, this is obviously not possible in winter or in times of seasonal stoppages or in times of sustain stoppages (drought). In addition, evaporation from rainfall due to temperature or low humidity will wick away rainfall, so care must be taken to in collecting rainwater safely, else it will follow the normal cycle of absorbing into the ground, adding to local pools of water (ponds, lakes, or rivers), or evaporate into the dry air.
Snow can be melted in winter, but it takes a variable amount of snow based on moisture content to produce water. You'll see from doing some research that the amount of snow to produce an inch or rain varies from 6 inches to a foot. That an enormous range. Taking 8” as a standard for example, imagine gathering filling a gallon pail full of packed snow. Taking a 1:8 ratio will mean a gallon of snow will produce two cups of water. It requires 80 calories to melt snow. That's almost as much as boiling. It's true, you could use a slow melting system. Say bringing in snow into a room and as the snow is exposed to say a 55 degree F room, it will melt. It will also evaporate too, so you'll get less than a cup of water in all likelihood. See why snow melt will not work very well?
A much more likely way will be gathering from a local water source. Water is heavy. The weight of water is 1 gallon = 8.35 lbs. In addition imagine how you would transport it. To carry water of any accumulation at all (10 gallons or more = 83.5 lbs) means a cart and decent paths.
Next is must be purified. Most people don't have filters at home, but they do have bleach. Many people have scented bleach and that is terrible for purifying water. Standard liquid bleach will lose it's effective strength by 20% a year. Sure people can store a solid form like pool shock that's used for swimming pools, but most people will not have had the forethought to do that.
Let's say you had a natural source of water and carried it back. That expended energy in the form of work. Most likely at least two people due to security concerns. You mix up your bleach by adding ¼ tsp to 1 gallon. Then ideally you let that stand for several days to let the chlorine evaporate. This means letting the water open to air too, so more evaporation occurs.
Still, mostly likely that water has had runoff. If you're anywhere near livestock, a farm, gardens, or lawn yards, then fertilizer, pesticides, fecal matter, debris, are also in the water. The bleach will kille some of the pathogens, but you still need to filter off any debris, and it's very difficult to remove the chemicals from the agricultural runoff. That should be a major concern.
Rainwater can easily be collected with a tarp, four poles, a funneling device, and a catchment vessel. This will still have whatever air pollutants that exist, and care must be taken to carefully clean the tarp, but it will be a very good way to collect clean water. See an earlier post about how to do that. Typical rainwater systems are meant for outside watering only, not potable water. The water is collected from rooftops and gutter systems, and those are contaminated with molds, algae in the air, and bird fecal matter. That's not a great way to produce drinking water and cannot be adequately filtered safely other than distillation.
All of this means that to save the hours of working to collect, haul, purify water can be greatly saved by digging a well. The easiest way to do this is to pre-make some material before hand for your community. Here's a link on how to dig a community well with minimal materials. It does require about 500 gallons to dig a well from experience, so that's important to know before hand. This doesn't take int account all of the water needs of the workers constructing it too.
[link to manualwelldrilling.org
This is tried and true method for assisting 3rd world villages with potable water.
Additionally, someone with forethought, might dig a shallow well with a well point system for minimal money but a lot of elbow grease. That equipment might cost around $400 for the well point, pvc, cement, sand, and pump. A well dug this way is intended for agricultural use though and is only good for digging down about 15 feet maximum. That's not great as again agricultural run-off is an issue. It will only work based upon a relatively low water table and hopefully not very much bedrock. Google well point drilling for more details.
An actual well is far superior in order to accomplish all of the safety goals and provide good drinking water.