Water storage is one of the most important components of emergency preparedness. Potable water is needed for ensuring the survival and well-being of disaster victims. Consumers may store water in previously used beverage or other food-grade containers for emergency use; however, this practice poses potential safety risks. Water stored in various containers for emergency purposes in residences within the state of Utah was tested for various contaminants. Of 240 samples, seven contained coliforms and 14 samples had free chlorine levels over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 4 parts per million limit. There was a negative correlation between chlorine levels and age of water. The probability that a container had free chlorine present decreased by 4% for each month of storage, suggesting the importance of preventing subsequent contamination of water during storage and use. Water in clear polyethylene terephthalate plastic soda bottles (n = 16), even when stored for >18 months, did not exceed 0.3 parts per billion (ppb) antimony, a level significantly lower than the EPA limit of 6.0 ppb antimony. These results support the practice of utilizing previously used containers, when properly cleaned and chlorinated, for emergency water storage.
- water storage
- First received 21 July 2014.
- Accepted in revised form 4 February 2015.
- © IWA Publishing 2015