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Is Water the Silver Lining in Every Cloud?

After I posted the snickering, tongue-in-cheek writeup on the 1931 “fog farm” concept, Angela B. sent along (via inhabitat.com) information on this real and modern example of a “fog farm” from a sharp student with her head in the clouds, so to speak.

For her final thesis in Industrial Design at Germany’s Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Imke Hoehler designed the “DropNet fog collector” that harvests drinking water from fog, air and mist. The great features of her design include simplicity, zero energy requirement, easy assembly and portability (unskilled workers can quickly assemble it on flat or uneven ground.) It’s a feasible approach for isolated areas with little or no infrastructure.

Each unit reportedly collects 10-20 liters per day. Unlike the kooky Modern Mechanix fog farm concept, this isn’t conceived to irrigate farmland, but it can ensure a safe supply of drinking water in challenging conditions. Has Irme, literally, found the silver lining in every cloud? Or more importantly, a reasonable way to mine it?

In looking at the design I wonder…might there be a way to incorporate rainwater harvesting into the unit so that it could also collect those supplies when available?

Suburban Survival: Water Emergency Week Day 4

What could happen here in safe suburbia, really? Well… what if a flood, tornado, earthquake, blackout, ice storm or other emergency cut off your drinking water supply with no warning? And your huge legacy oak is blocking the escape route? Or if even the Suburban can’t navigate the quake-heaved streets?

After you’ve indulged in extreme self-hatred about your lack of preparedness, here’s where you can find drinking water around the home for a short term, quick supply.

1. The Toilet:Don’t make that face, this is an emergency! Not the bowl, dummy, that’s where you poop and where e-Coli lives. You can mine several gallons, though, from the tank. Filter it through a piece of cloth if it’s been awhile since that tank was cleaned. (You won’t be using your loo until service is restored; you can figure that one out for yourself.)

2. Hot Water Heater: A water bonanza of up to 70 gallons. To get at it, make sure gas and electric connections are off (and leave them off until service is restored). Put a large container under the water heater’s bottom drain and open the drain. Then, open a nearby sink faucet to release the pressure and start the flow.

3. Your Plumbing: The pipes are filled with residual water, and it’s just standin’ there doin’ nuthin’! Turn off the main water supply line to the house. Then open a water faucet at the highest point in your house to let air in. Next, open the faucet at your home’s lowest point–in the basement or downstairs–and let the water standing in the pipes drain via gravity into a container.

4. Ice cubes: As badly as you might want a cocktail, retrieve ice cubes from your freezer and put them into storage containers to melt.

Bad idea: Don’t pour yourself a chemical cocktail by drinking water from swimming pools or hot tubs.

Your Parent’s Fallout Shelter: Water Emergency Week Day 2

I’ve declared this the totally unofficial Water Emergency Week here at Thirsty in Suburbia, just because it’s a strange, unsettling and interesting topic. Day two… cold advice from the Cold War.

I was in first grade when the Cold War’s fever-pitch panic hit its stride in 1963 and vaguely remember feeling fearful over dead-serious bits of advice such as this video. (Or film, as it would have been called then. Attention Mad Men writers: this would be a killer storyline! How would Betty decorate the cozy Draper shelter?).

Funny, the most visceral memory I have of this period is a frightening episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Shelter”, in which formerly-friendly neighbors find that adequate shelter, water and supplies are the least of their worries in the face of a civil defense emergency–that the biggest threat to their survival might be each other!