Emergency Water Supply

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Water shortage is a form of weapon. Without water, no army can function and the civilian population crumbles to the point of violent clashes over what little water that remains. During an emergency that impacts a civilian population – following a natural disaster, major terrorist attack or fighting – the water supply is one of the first critical systems to be adversely affected. Supplying drinking water and bathing water during an emergency, while various systems falter, is the top concern for municipal and military authorities worldwide. They must prepare for this and be ready to supply the populace with water at a reasonable quality, immediately and at very short notice, sometimes within a few hours.

Regular supply of clean usable water depends on additional critical systems such as the power grid, water mains, filtering, purification, etc. Even if one of them fails to function properly, the result could be an immediate shortage of water which might spell loss of human lives, illness and spreading disease. The World Health Organization recommendation for daily water consumption stands at 15 liters per person, for drinking, bathing, washing and cooking.

Emergency authorities (municipal or military) usually store water for use during a catastrophe, major terrorist attack or evacuating civilians due to fighting, using dedicated containers which require special trucks and large warehouses. The storage volume, along with the transportation requirements, remains the same even when the containers have been used and emptied.

iHLS Israel Homeland Security

This poses a major concern for the authorities in charge, in particular due to the concern that the water might be contaminated by bacteria in the residue within the plastic tanks once they have been used. Additional concerns resulting from the use of plastic or metal tanks, are the inability to clean and sterilize them effectively, as well as the aftertaste and the smell.

One of the most innovative solutions that address both major concerns – the volume of the containers when they are not used for carrying water and the prevention of contagion within the tanks – is to use dual-layered containers, one inner and one external. The outer layer is made of PVC that contracts and bends to accommodate water when filled and to return to a small size when emptied. Thus, the high storage volume is saved and transporting the containers becomes more efficient when the need arises to refill them and re-supply disaster areas.

The inner layer, which is the one where the water is stored, is made of polyethylene. The inner bag is disposable, thereby solving the need to clean the container and sterilize it, as well the issue of aftertaste and smell. The inner polyethylene bags, which are approved for containing food by health authorities worldwide, meet CE, FDA and Israeli Standards Institute criteria.

EZ Pack, an Israeli company which is highly involved in this field, recently sent water containers and valves to the Philippines, in the framework of Israel’s Home Front Command aid mission in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. EZ Pack solved the problem of transporting water using dedicated trucks by applying a gadget that turns any truck-tow into a vehicle suited for water transportation by loading a dedicated equipment which carries dedicated PVC bags which contain water.