There are many different options for storing water. Whether you use 2 liter soda bottles, 55 gallon water barrels or have a 275 gallon cube in your back yard, the principles of water storage are the same.
Use food grade containers. Make sure they are cleaned out very well before using to prevent contamination and spoilage in your water. We use 55 gallon water barrels that had previously been used to store the syrup used in soda pop manufacturing. We used a pressure washer to clean out any remnants of syrup, then rinsed with a basic bleach solution to sanitize the barrels. Finally, we finished up the cleaning process with an overall plain water rinse.
Treat your water if necessary. If the source of the water you plan to store is commercially treated with chlorine, you probably do not need to do anything else to it. In our case, our water is commercially treated through our municipal water system; however, out of necessity we store it outside in the extreme heat and therefore, we do add some extra bleach. If your water source is untreated for any reason (i.e. many private wells are not treated), then according to FEMA you should add unscented household chlorine bleach to your water, 2 drops per 2 liter bottle (to be repeated once if a slight chlorine smell does not exist after first application). For the appropriate quantities of bleach to be added to larger storage containers, do your research as there is much varying information out there. Personally, we chose to add 1/2 cup of bleach to our 55 gallon containers which fell in the middle of the many different recommendations. If you are adding bleach to your water, make sure your bleach is the basic household bleach, not scented, color safe, etc. Keep in mind, bleach loses it’s effectiveness over time (even in the bleach bottle). If we ever need to use our stored water, we would certainly examine it to see if it looked and smelled okay. At a minimum, we would probably boil it and run it through a Brita filter before drinking. Another note: if you are filling a large container from a garden hose, please get a “safe drinking water” hose. I recently spent a day researching the many different kinds of safe drinking water garden hoses and ended up purchasing the Water Right brand via Amazon. I will post a review later after we have some experience with the hose.
FEMA recommends replacing stored water at least every 6 months. If you are using 55 gallon water barrels, it is easiest to access and replace your water reserves by storing your barrels horizontally. We can help you with our very economical horizontal water barrel storage rack. This rack will help you get organized and reduce your water storage footprint, not to mention keep you from going through the laborious process of using a pump and siphon to empty your water barrels. This rack is incredibly strong. Check out our drop test here (second video). See how quickly you can assemble our rack without any tools here (first video).