550 Gallons of Water Storage for $300

550 Gallons of Water Storage for $300

This is a story of my search for the perfect water storage container.

A little background:  I currently rent a property that would be perfect as a bug-in location.  Set on a dirt road, back on a 1/4 mile driveway on 10 acres.  2 wells, 1 generator, no one around.  Lots of trees and deer.  Unfortunately, I don’t own it!  We moved in here years ago as part of a lifestyle change to get away from the big city.

Recently we purchased a old farm house as our permanent home.  Operationally, it is not as great for a bug-in, but I am still determined to make it work.  It is on a paved county road just 50 yards off it.  Just one well, no generator and only 2 acres.  It isn’t much, but it all ours and 1/3 the price of the last house we use to own (think low mortgage payments!).

There are so many plans we have.  I plan to buy a permanent natural gas generator for those short term outages.  I want to dig another well eventually and use a hand pump or even solar/battery powered pump with it.  The existing well sits right in the future driveway anyway, so it needs to go.

Because my water situation is a little precarious without a generator currently, I started doing research on water storage.  Here is what I found:

  • There are lots of 55 gallon barrels on Craigslist for $50 or so.  Most claimed that they were food grade and used once.  I just could not help but wonder:  “how do I know?” or “what if I buy one and store water and it turns out to be unhealthy for some reason”.  Plus, am I going to trust my family to some guy I don’t know on Craigslist?
  • I went back to Craigslist and tried to find someone to sell me a “new” 55 gallon water storage barrel, but couldn’t find anyone.
  • Doing a Google search, I found other tanks such as ones used on farms or even a pick-up truck water container.  They were all new plastic and many said potable water, but they were expensive and even more to ship them. I wasn’t able to find anyone local to sell me one.
  • The Ready Store had this awesome 500 gallon tower of water with multiple valves that stood about 7′ tall.  Very impressive, but it was $925.  My wife supports (or better yet, ignores) my preps, but I could never get $925 past her.
  • I could order a new 55 gallon or even a 30 gallon drum on-line at Amazon or other places, but the drum was usually about $100 and shipping was almost $100.  I am not cheap, but I am frugal.  $200 seemed way too much for just 55 gallons of water.

One night I was continuing my quest and just searched “prepper” on Craigslist.  Here was my answer.  A guy by the name of Drew was very savy, he had all the keywords like water storage, prepping, prepper, 55 gallon and others in the footer of his ad.  He was selling 275 gallon IBC totes.  These are forklift ready square metal cages with a plastic “bottle” inside that are used to ship liquids to food manufacturers and restaurants.  These IBC totes have an excellent 4″ cap on the top for filling and cleaning.  They have a 2″ valve on the bottom that can be converted to a hose connection for about $3 worth of plastic parts from Home Depot.  His were use for shipping sesame oil to a local food company.

I struck up an email exchange with Drew.  He even had a catchy email something like WaterGuy@gmail.com (I don’t want him to get spam, so it is close to this).  He was selling these used totes for $90.  I then went back to a site that sold these containers new (for $275).  They would sell me a new “bottle” for $100 and shipping would be $60.  So, my all-in cost would again be $255, but for 275 gallons.  I asked Drew if he had any broken bottles for less cause I just just wanted the frame as I was going to replace the bottle with a new one.  Surprisingly, he said he has new bottles for just $60.

Drew and I met at his business about 30 minutes away.  My brother in-law helped me lift the 125 empty tote into my trailer.  I was so excited, I bought two.  I now have 550 gallons of water (5 people in my family X 1 gallon of water per day = 110 days of water).

Here is a link to great pictures of the totes (I did not buy them from here, but just so you can have a better look at them).   IBC Totes for Water.

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