Solutions for Self-Reliance

It’s Time to Start Thinking About Water, Here’s How


I’m high in the mountains of Colorado right now.  How high?  Yesterday’s hike started at 10,200 feet above sea level!

It’s a good thing that I lost 40 + pounds by simply adopting a more resilient lifestyle and diet this spring, or I wouldn’t have been able to do anything (if people are interested, I’ll write more about what I did to lose that weight and get into shape so quickly).

One thing that you quickly learn about Colorado is: it’s dry here.  The high altitude desert literally sucks the water out of your body.  This dryness makes becoming resilient difficult.  Here’s a reason why.

Water is very expensive in Colorado.  A conversational comparison of water bills led to the estimate that it is already 6 times more expensive than it is in New England!  Wow.

Worse, there are frequent water bans that prevent any outside watering and outdated laws that prevent any rainwater or snowmelt harvesting.  This means that you won’t see DIY rainwater storage solutions in Colorado, like this simple yet elegant IBC tank system sent in by Bob in Central Queensland, Australia.



Fortunately, there are lots of solutions available.  The upcoming resilient communities “Water Abundance” report will provide many of those methods.  Here’s a little thinking in the meantime.

Dry Farming/Gardening and Simple Water Testing

What can you do?  Adapt, by learning to farm and garden without irrigation.

Here’s one example from the farmer, David Little.  He runs the “Little Organic Farm” on California’s coast.

By talking with the locally retired farming braintrust, he was able to learn enough to revive a dry farming technique that allows him to grow food without irrigation.

What is it?   Little describes the technique as a wet sponge covered with “cellophane.”

During the winter and spring rains he break up the soil, to allow as much water as possible to soak in.  How?  Starting as early as he can, he disks the soil multiple times to turn it into a sponge.

When the rain stops for the summer, he then goes over with a roller to create a 3-4 inches of “dust mulch” that seals in the water.  This mulch provides the seedlings with enough water for enough time to become established.

As with all dry farmed/gardened plants, the plants that survive have deeper and more resilient root systems and smaller (yet more flavorful) yields.

I’m sure there are more great ideas out there on dry land farming in our resilient brain-trust.

Water Testing

As we become more resilient, and global economic/environmental conditions worsen (become drier in many locations), an ever greater number of us will learn to produce our own water.

To do this safely, particularly if you’ve never done it before: get into the routine of testing your water.

What are you looking for?  Mostly, bacteria and nitrates.  Depending on where you live you should also test for lead, arsenic, pesticides, radon, excess chlorine, PH, radium, and more.

How do you test your water?

You can conduct a professional test, or you can use a simple DiY test kit (like this one from First Alert or Watersafe, although there are plenty of others to choose from).

Why should you test your water?   It’s simple.  When you capture or pump water for your own use, you need to routinely test the quality of the water just like the water department in any town or city.   Even if you don’t drink or bathe in this water, you should test it for corrosive chemicals that can damage your home’s piping and storage system.

It’s also smart to test it even if you rely upon town water.  Why?  We live in a world where water supplies and community budgets are under heavy pressure, which means that water quality may suffer.

Regardless, don’t dismay.  Adapt and prosper!

Your resilient ally,



PS:  Thanks to everyone who sent it pictures of their solar power set-ups.  I’ll include some of them in a future letter.

Like it? Show your support on Patreon! Let us change the world.
Become a patron at Patreon!



Suggested Videos

Self-Reliance is Hard
We Make It Easier

Solutions for Smarter Self-Reliance:

You'll find them in The Self-Reliance Catalog; a carefully curated collection of the best plants, tools, shelters and systems for self-reliance and resilience.

Free Registration