A Day Without Water

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 Ready.gov 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: Flynn.Laura@epa.gov