Emergency Preparedness: Storing an Emergency Supply of Water

Most households keep emergency kits of supplies they can quickly turn to when there is a major earthquake or another type of disaster.

A supply of stored water may be your most important survival item. You need to take precautions to make sure your water is safe to drink when you need it most.

Should there be a major calamity, be sure to listen to your local radio stations or check this website for more information on the condition of the Contra Costa Water District's water supply.

Hidden Emergency Water Sources in Your Home
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).

Do you know the location of your residence's incoming water valve? You'll need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines. Check radio or TV news, or this website if it's possible, to see if a "boil water" notice has been issued for your area.

To use the water in your home's pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the house until the stored supply is depleted.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas water heater or electricity when the tank is empty.

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources
If you need to find water outside your home, you can use these sources. Be sure to treat emergency outdoor water:
  • Natural springs
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first. You should not drink flood water.

Call our Water Quality Hotline at 925-688-8156 for more information, or if it's an emergency, call 925-688-8374.