My experience of using a WaterBob during a personal disaster

Recently, on another thread,  Advice for a new prepper – hurricane/flood scenario in Florida, I spoke about actually using one of our water preps (for a family of five), a WaterBob.

Biggest Pro:  An opportunity to add 100 clean gallons of potable water in minutes without leaving the home.   This water is safe to store/use for up to 16 weeks.

Pro:  The unit cost of $35-$40 is fairly reasonable.  Buying 40 one gallon bottles takes up a lot of space.   The WaterBob takes up a small amount of space and can be stored for years and only used during an emergency.

Con:  Once filled, the WaterBob is not reusable.   If you don’t use it, it will need to be thrown away and another WaterBob purchased to be placed in your storage.

Pro:  If you think you may lose tap or well water:  Hurricane, public health warning, possible wildfire evacuation, PSPS (California acronym for a Public Safety Power Shut off), or a broken water pump that has to be shut down for repair, this box can be pulled from under your bathroom sink, put in the bathtub, filled with 100 gallons of potable tap water.

Con:  Yes, you lose the use of the bathtub.   But, perhaps baths/showers aren’t a best idea if you’re short of potable water.    One could always take out a few gallons from the WaterBob, heat it on a stove and take a spit bath.

Pro:  WaterBob comes with a hand pump included.  The hand pump does work.  (However, if one doesn’t have strong hands, a new, $12-$14 liquid transfer pump that requires two D batteries is much easier than the included hand pump.)

My personal experience:  Family of 5 in rural San Diego county had a broken water pump.   In the 3 weeks until that pump could be repaired, we used the 4 WaterBobs from our preps to fill all 4 bathtubs in the two homes on the property.  We also used a lot of our stored  16 oz. bottles, 1 gallon water bottles, and 5 gallon water containers for donkey/goat/dogs and to flush the toilets.    Showers and washing clothes was done at the home of a nearby family member, and the empty 5 gallon containers were also re-filled at the nearby family member home to be used again (and again….) until the crisis was over.

Even being careful, we used nearly all of the 400 gallons available in the WaterBobs.   We were grateful for the much easier battery-powered liquid transfer pumps vs. the hand pump.  After the pump was repaired, we actually tried to see if the WaterBobs could be dried and reused, but after 3 weeks of use, it was not feasible, so I purchased 4 more for $140.    Even at $140, this was still cheaper and easier all round than  getting 400 potable gallons any other way.   (Trust me–we explored ALL of our many water redundancies first!)

Feel free to provide your own pro/con statements.    If anyone else has actually used a WaterBob for any reason, please tell your story.


  • Comments (9)

    • 3

      Thank you for that review!! I appreciate hearing about preps that worked (or even didn’t work)!!!! 

      I never really considered the waterbob, but I’m thinking about it now….

    • 4

      Thank you for your review wildfireexpert. I don’t know if there has been such a good review of the WaterBob on this site yet. It’s always great to hear from people firsthand using various products.

      How did you fill the WaterBobs if your water pump was broken? Do you feel like the plastic was thick enough to prevent getting pin pricked easily?

      Hope you don’t mind me expanding the title of this post to be a bit more descriptive.

      • 4

        Our water pump was going out and made a horrific noise and shook like crazy when it came on, so we knew it was in its death throes.    We chose to fill the four WaterBobs as a way to get 400 gallons of potable water.   We also filled all the livestock water containers while listening to the groaning and rumbling water pump.    After that, we disconnected the pump and began the repairs.

        WaterBob is made of 10 mil food-grade non-BPA plastic.  It is tough.  The thickest mil contractor bag on Amazon was 6 mil and says it can withstand punctures from broken glass, bricks, sheetrock etc.  

        Thanks for changing the thread title.

      • 3

        Forgot to add, I had purchased the WaterBobs off Amazon in 2012 for about $20 each.    They had been in storage under the bathroom sinks for 11 years before we used them with no problems.

      • 2

        That’s great that it gave you some heads up by the way of a dying noise and didn’t just die on you.

    • 3

      On that other forum post I wrote about some of the reasons I regretting buying a WaterBob. And you acknowledged some of the same drawbacks in your post here. But you also pointed out that it was a huge benefit to your family during a difficult time and I can’t argue with that. 

      I trust you. You have used these products extensively and I have not. So I now do not regret my decision to buy a WaterBob and will consider it a useful prep that I’ll have but hopefully will never have to actually use.

    • 3

      Thanks for sharing your experience.  I was revisiting this as a potential prep and read some of the online reviews.  That it was good after 11 years in storage for you and 5+ in a hot (100F) garage for another reviewer seals it for me.   It’s pretty small insurance for local water service issues.  

    • 3

      I appreciate hearing about how a WaterBob worked for you. I’m going to add one to my preps because it sounds like a low storage space way to potentially have access to 100 gallons of potable water. I had previously bought bath tub liners that I was planning to use if I had advance notice of a potential problem. They are inexpensive and I was planning to use that water for toilet flushing and other uses that don’t need potable water (and it would be an easy way to flush with no need for a pump to get access to the water — I could just scoop up in a pitcher and pour into my tank). I’m wondering how much of your WaterBob water did you need to actually be potable? Did you need much (clean-ish) non-potable water? 

      • 5

        Amy S. – Hi.  You’d be amazed at how quickly a group of 5 people can go through 100 gallons of potable water!     And yes, we also went through a lot of clean-ish water for flushing, watering animals etc. from water stored for years in rain-barrels, 5 gallon storage jugs, etc.   Because I am fortunate to live in a 1st world country where everyone takes access to clean water for granted, we could probably have used any of our water sources and found it potable.  

        My family lives in rural southern California and if anything ever impacts our municipal water supply, people are going to need water as much as they need air to breathe and it is just not available.    

        Am I a Mama Bear for my group of 6?    Yes.  Water is our biggest preparedness gap.  We live where rainfall is 12″ a year.   If we lived in Seattle, no worries, but we don’t.  Wells in my area are down to 1500+ feet and are going dry.    We’ve thoroughly discussed and investigated the financial costs of a well, huge storage tanks, smaller storage tanks, etc. and nothing is viable or in our budget range.   I hedge my bets with WaterBobs and other water redundancies; but we’ll never come close to having enough if the municipal water sources are impacted.   Being “sane preppers”, we do the best we can with what we can afford.