In the recent columns we have skirted around how prepping is definitely mainstream. It has come about in a very smooth way, too. Since for the most part, people have not cleaned-off store shelves, as often happens in advance of major storms and such. A word from the German government here, a hint from a reader or two there…

This morning I wanted to run a refresher on how much water and food to keep on hand.

Let’s start with how much water. The Mayo Clinic site over here advises that adequate intake (AI) for a man is about 3 liters a day. The AI for a woman is about 2.2 liters.

Much of this is merely static, room-temperature stuff, though. If you are in a hot climate (the South) and it’s summer, you can sweat off half a gallon per day, or more. When the average air temp exceeded ambient skin temp (which is around 86F or so) then your body starts the chilling processes like sweating. As the air temp gets further from skin ambient temp, the cooling load increases. See our earlier discussions of heat stroke which is when the personal chilling system fizzles out.

The next variable is body weight. All kinds of agencies and medical types use “typical” body weights which for the FAA (to name one) the number is 170 pounds.

If Ures truly tipped the scales at 225 this morning, I would need 32% more water on a weight basis. This would bring my planning number up to 4 liters per day with no heavy sweats.

Then there is exertion level and food types.

Obviously, if I were to ever work hard enough to break a sweat, then I could easily get up into the 5 liters per day category. And, when the SHTF, the texture of that morning moment on the throne is a great indicator. Hard feces tend to go along with some level of dehydration while softs tend to reveal adequate hydration. There are exceptions, of course. Red wine and chili come to mind, lol.

The final point is on food: If your survival cache includes a lot of freeze-dried food, don’t forget that’s part of your water planning. You’d be surprised to learn how much water goes into those, but a liter per person is a good guess. Two to be sure.

Now we add them all up. I figure about 10 liters of water for Elaine and me in fall, winter, and spring, increasing to 12 liters per day in the summertime.

This pencils out to 2.64 gallons per day (cool seasons) and 3.2 gallons per day during summer.

BIG IMPORTANT POINT: This doesn’t include water for gardening and recovery efforts!

Three gallons per day doesn’t leave much for personal hygiene, either. So you could toss in a gallon per person per day for personal use, or a very short shower once a week. This shower would be a wet down, water off, soap up, fast rinse type. They are not relaxing, they’re a task. My family has a history of 10 minute showers, but then again, we’re all negative ion junkies and falling water, OMG lover it… but that’s another topic.
At three gallons per day for the two of us, 18 days on a 55 gallon drum would be doable in an EoW (end of World) scenario. And four such barrels would hit 73 days. 10 weeks, or so.

Calories is the next thing to ponder.

Elaine is less than 125 pounds, usually around 120. This translates out to 1,875 to 2,000 calories per day.

Mr. Lardo, on the other hand, at 220 pounds, wolfs about 3,300 calories, but I can pencil myself in for 2,800. The 500 calorie daily deficit would mean some weight reduction over time.

A pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories, so I would lose weight at one, or more, pounds per week until I drifted down to the 170 range, a process which would take a year. But if the world is ending, maybe faster.

We’d like to emphasize how important it is to get good water collection systems going.

One of the major “this Fall” projects around here is to get gutters up on both of the big buildings and then install large food-grade water storage.

Our house has about 1,600 square feet of roof and the shop/office has about the same, so 3,200 square feet of catchment area.

Thus, when it rains good and we collect 12-inches worth of water, that’s about 23,900 gallons of water.

In the average year, we get 40 to 60 inches of rain. On the low side, that would be 79,600 gallons or 218 gallons per day. On the high side it would be 327 gallons per day. But much of that would go to gardening which we’ll get to in a sec.

Even during the recent summer, looking just at June through August here, we had 8.3 inches of rain, so 16,530 gallons.

Not all of that is recoverable. Sometimes when it rains, the roof gets a spritz or sprinkle so you can’t count that. On the other hand, though, a day like one had in August with 3” inches of rain would have done nicely.

To be sure, roof catchment systems have their issues, not the least of which are pollutants and filtration systems. Still, if you have a water catchment system in place, it’s a worthwhile efforts.

Looking forward to the garden next year (you will see shorter columns here as food production cycles up on my agenda for a few years), a tomato plant is a good representative plant for planning and they need about 1 ½ inches of water per week.

If you dig up a tomato plant, you’d be looking at maybe what? Root diameter of 20”? 10 square feet per week of watering per plant times 1.5” of water gives us 2160 cubic inches of water per plant or about 9.8 gallons per week per plant.

Take this times 30 plants and you’re around 300 gallons per week. But out the backside, if you’re using good fertilizer, you might push 20-40 pounds of fruit per plant out the back side. Depends on your green thumb of course.

There are some much higher water consumption numbers (*such as here) on a per plant basis, but most of those numbers involve irrigation which is terribly inefficient.

How terrible is terribly?

Well, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization looks at irrigation efficiency this way: You have to look at conveyance efficiency first and then field efficiency. Conveyance first:


And that’s for how long a run? Those are meters not miles. Then we look at field efficiency:


As you can see, there is terrible inefficiency built into unlined sandy soil canals feeding furrow irrigation. Only 36% of the upstream water delivered is actually available to the plant. Longer runs mean more loss.

So as you ponder what life on the backside of SHTF will be like, be mindful not only of the raw calories, and the basic water requirements, but how to prep in the most efficient manner possible.

High density plots with drip irrigation (or hand watering) seem like the way to go. Since plant watering doesn’t require filtered water, it’s simple to “get there” but only if you plan for the water and soil work in addition to the easy collection of a bunch of heritage seeds. The later is a check, the former some thought and work.

Ah, but enough of Winter Garden thoughts…

Off to town for some gasoline for the power tools…winter’s coming and it’s nearly chainsaw season. A big oak is down on the west end of the property and I’m itching to do something creative with it.

Write when you get rich,