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A Day Without Water

2012 September 10

By Laura Flynn

In June, a storm knocked out our power for several days and made me wonder what we’d do if we had lost water.
To help start my path to preparedness, I decide to walk through my typical day…but imagine it without water.
“No water?! I can’t brush my teeth or make coffee!”

As kids awaken, they shout, “I NEED a shower before school!”
I pass out gum, claim messy hair is in, and promise a drive-thru breakfast. Crisis averted, or not…
Drive-thru is closed, no water.
Well, the kids can just grab breakfast at school, or not.
There’s a steady stream of cars heading out of the parking lot – school’s closed.
“YES!!! School will be closed for days!”
“No” I reply “water will be back soon. It always is.”
Driving home, we pass empty malls and see parents putting kids back into cars. Workers are walking home from bus stops.

We try to buy bottled water, but stores are closed.
We then hear the county is distributing bottled water.
Lines are long and I wonder if they’ll have enough.
I panic, but just a little. The water will be back soon. It always is.
I turn on the news at home and hear we could be without water for a week.
Panic is setting in and I realize it’s not even noon in my imaginary day without water.
How can I avoid this nightmare? I need to do something to fix this imaginary day gone bad.

I check FEMA’s website, and decide to stockpile water. I need one gallon, per person, per day for three days, or 18 gallons…plus extra for coffee!
I think broader.

Do community businesses have back-up water supplies, such as storage tanks or bulk water delivery? No? I can direct them to EPA’s Community-Based Water Resiliency page.

I can also urge my water utilities to enter into mutual aid agreements so they can restore services in hours instead of days. I can point them to EPA’s WARN page, urge them to install a contaminant warning system, plan a table-top exercise, or explore other resources found on EPA’s Water Security homepage.

Imaging a day without water can be pretty scary, but it doesn’t have to be…not if I act now and prepare!

About the author: Laura Flynn is a Team Leader in the Water Security Division. After hours she shuffles four teenagers to soccer, basketball, and track. She can be reached at:

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Dennis Gillan permalink
    September 10, 2012

    One learns the value of water when the well goes dry.

    This may be the most mismanaged resource in America—period. We’ve got to do better….reuse is on the top of the list. Shower, capture the water, clean it, use it again.

  2. wade permalink
    September 10, 2012

    Some 40 years ago when I lived in Ohio most of the houses in the subdivisions around us had cisterms. water from the roof was collected and stored for emergency use. I have not heard of this being done here in SC.

  3. Lina-EPA permalink*
    September 10, 2012

    Great blog post! You’re right. With all its inconveniences, we CAN live without electricity, but we realy CAN’T live WITHOUT WATER, at least not for a long time.

  4. Thumper Pruitt permalink
    September 10, 2012

    It is ironic. A world that is 70% water, 3% that is fresh and Les than 1% that is potable and most of that is polluted, one winners why no one has ever though of mass desalination of sea water as a possible solution to the water shortage problem. Reducing, reusing water is good, but why not produce more fresh water and introduce this to watersheds where the water can be transported via existing water infrastructure? Just food for thought.

  5. Jayant Parmari permalink
    September 11, 2012

    I know how difficult it is to be without water. Forget about a day we can’t even live without it even for 6 hours, its very important for a human to survive. If you want to see the resorts can check Justdialand enjoy your weekend.

  6. Regla Maria permalink
    September 11, 2012

    Dear Laura,
    That was a great article!…and yours was an imaginary day without water. The ones I experienced were for real! I come from a country, Cuba, where days like the one you described are more than a fictitious passage! Now that I living in the States, I can tell you that in fact the people who live here have to be prepared to manage this precious supply for they do not know what to lack water means, thank God! Thank you for spreading the word and create awareness on this matter!

  7. Stephen permalink
    September 11, 2012

    This story is one of the most compelling reasons to support and install rainwater harvesting systems, especially for households depending on well water. For more information, start with or Google “Rainwater Harvesting”. The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting is available online for free download.

  8. Laura permalink
    September 12, 2012

    Thanks everyone for your positive feedback! I hope the links to additional information are helpful and if you need any additional information please don’t hesitate to contact me at:

    Laura Flynn

  9. rajat rai permalink
    September 15, 2012

    i intersted a day without water of the environment

  10. pooja permalink
    December 24, 2012

    i like the how u described everything.

  11. AmAn srivastava permalink
    July 8, 2013

    its very true

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