Finding water in an Urban Environment

Finding Water in an Urban Environment

If you live in an urban environment, you are probably only a few minutes away from a shop that has an almost limitless supply of fresh bottled water. You will also have a supply of fresh running water in your home that you can tap into any time you need to. However if you ever find yourself in a survival situation in an urban environment you will need to have some plans for finding water. Here are some tips:

Try the obvious places first

Places like business buildings may have water coolers that still have drinkable water inside. Shops may have some bottles that other survivors have missed. Rooftops are also a good place to look when finding water as this is where rainwater may have collected. I would always try the obvious places first – surviving is going to be hard so any easy wins will be worthwhile.

Finding water
You may get lucky and find a drinkable water supply in an empty office building

Rivers, streams and ponds

If you have any of these near to where you are living, providing you have methods to filter and boil it, you will have a pretty good sized water supply. Always be cautious of any chemicals that may have been put into ponds. Finding water will help keep you alive, but only if it is clean!

Finding water
Garden ponds, rivers and streams are great sources of fresh water – filtration will be needed though


Most people would not consider toilet water safe to drink. However, water in the tank of the toilet should be fine to drink. I would still probably filter and boil it if I had the means to. In a standard toilet tank, you probably have a days’ worth of drinking water.

Finding water
It may not seem appealing but your toilet may have a store of drinkable water. In desperate times, easily finding water like this is a huge help.

The water heating system in your home

These systems can store a large amount of drinkable water. Not only in the actual water tank but also in the pipes that deliver it all around your house. If you can get to these pipes (a bit of wall demolition is called for) then you may have succeeded in finding water to last the few days you need before you leave the city.

Finding water
Your home’s heating system can have several days worth of water inside

Swimming Pools

In a previous life I managed swimming pools so I am well aware of how many chemicals go into pool water. However there may still be some drinking water to be collected from the pool water system. Firstly, some pools have a “top up tank”. This is a tank of fresh water that can be used to top up the water level in the pool if it drops for any reason. These are usually fed from the mains water supply so any water in this tank will be good to drink. There are various sizes of these tanks – the one at my last pool would probably provide water for a day or two!

The other way pool water may be safe to drink is if it comes from an outdoor pool. The sun may have burnt out all of the chemicals that were in the water. As long as you boil and filter this water it will be safe to drink. Caution needs to be taken with pool water. If you are unsure of chemical levels then leave the water alone, or only use it for cleaning purposes, and not consumption.

Finding water
Swimming pools house thousands of litres of water – not all of it is drinkable but if you are in need of finding water, pools can be a life saver.

Local attractions

Places such as zoos, theme parks, etc, are likely to have a huge supply of water somewhere on site. These places should be thoroughly explored when finding water, providing it is safe to do so. There may be barrels of water stored, hoses with water still left inside. Most have shops on site that may have avoided being looted. If you do venture into any of these types of places, make sure you have a clear escape route and be careful you are not putting yourself into danger by going inside.

Finding water
Zoos will have a huge supply of fresh water on site – getting to it could be dangerous though. Finding water is a priority but make sure you stay safe.

Most of these water sources will require you to filter and boil the water before drinking. This means knowing how to light a fire and filter water are essential skills. Finding water is key to survival but make sure you know how to make it safe to drink.

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