No Well! Lessons Learned When the Water Runs Out

water shortage

The following account is shared by American Contingency member @jw5337, from the AmCon North Region.

My county in Iowa has been in a near drought for the last 3 years. We’ve had just enough water to not be in an official drought status. I live in a rural area, with many homes on well water. I’ve owned this house 12 years. When we bought it, we elected to stay on the well for a few reasons – with money savings and contamination control being high on the list.

On Wednesday, November 22nd, we were at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving, and my daughter showed up a few minutes after we did and told us that there’s no water at our house.

I drove out to the property and checked our pressure tank to see if it tripped – it’s online. I drove down to the well and found that it was extremely low. In the 12 years we’ve lived here we have never run out of water. I shut everything down and went back to our friend’s house. There’s nothing I can do at 8:00 PM on Thanksgiving eve.

On Thanksgiving morning, I reached out to a friend who does well work and asked if he would bring a load of water over on Friday to prime the well. I got out the three 6-gallon water jugs that I keep at the house for “just in case.” We have plenty of bottled water for drinking but washing dishes and flushing toilets is a different story.

Lessons learned:

  1. We did this to ourselves. Since this had never happened before, we didn’t pay attention. My daughter came home from college and my wife did a LOT of laundry.
  2. People were taking “Hollywood” showers.
  3. 18 gallons of water for toilets and dishes doesn’t cut it. The average toilet seems to take about 2+ gallons to flush. With 4 women and me in the house, we used about 30 gallons – which I was filling up at a friend’s house in town.


  1. We’re paying more attention to the amount of laundry we’re doing on a given day by reducing the number of loads to allow the well to refill.
  2. I’m changing the shower heads back to low flow. When it was just the two of us, we indulged with the luxury rain shower.
  3. I’ve been wanting to add rain barrels, but putting it off. This would allow me to be able to use that water for toilets, etc. when the weather is nice.
  4. We are going to be looking at moving to rural water next year. I want to be able to keep the well for emergencies, but we need dependability.

It doesn’t matter why we didn’t have water; did we have what we needed to take care of the situation? Yes and no. I patted myself on the back for a long time about staying on the well, but when I analyzed it, I realize I don’t have reliable water, even without the drought. If we had a power outage, we would be without water, since the pump is electric. In addition, the well is 200 yards downhill from the house. That’s a lot of Sherpa duty. Also, I don’t have a truck mounted potable water tank and I’m relying on friends to take care of the problem for me.

We often worry about worst case scenarios, but being self-reliant is being able to weather the little storms as well as the big ones. Do you have what you need to take care of your family? If I were to grade it, I got maybe a C in preparedness concerning the water and a D when it came to sanitation and hygiene.

Always take the time to learn from your mistakes and shortcomings.

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