Free National and Local Water Maps

August 27, 2014 by

EPA National Water MapOutside of air and possibly shelter in extreme conditions, water is the most valuable resource we must have on hand for survival.

I believe in stocking up on water. Whether that's filling big, blue 55-gallon barrels with clean drinking water, buying bottled water from the store for your pantry, or simply washing and re-using 2-liter soda bottles to store tap water under your bed, water storage should be part of your preparedness plan.

But honestly, that's not enough for true preparedness.

The government recommends storing no less than a 3-day supply of water. They suggest three gallons of water per person per day minimum for drinking and sanitation. Of course, that's woefully inadequate if you have dreams of anything more than a minimalist sponge bath or care to flush your toilet. FEMA may or may not rush bottled water to your area. And heaven help you if you're counting on finding water at the store during even a short-term water crisis.

No, you have basically three options during a water crisis or any disaster which damages your water utilities:

  1. Use what you have stored on hand
  2. Have an on-site method of retrieving water (e.g. on-site spring or well with manual / backup power source)
  3. Find water elsewhere

Today I want to briefly share some free water maps and other resources you can use to find those alternative water sources for option #3.

First, take a look around your area and see if there is a fresh water spring around. A great free resource for searching for a local fresh water spring is Just be aware you have to choose your region in the dropdown that appears after mousing over the "Locate A Spring" image in the top left corner. For whatever reason you can't just click the map on their home page though that would be simpler (gets me every time!).

Second, look for other fresh water supplies... lakes, rivers, streams and even marshes can be a valuable water resource during a long-term crisis provided you have either the know-how or water filtration equipment to ensure your water is safe to drink.

You probably already have a good idea of what major bodies of water are around your home already. But what if they're not in reasonable walking distance for hauling water back home? Or what if you have to bug out to a different location?

Then you'd better have a good idea where to find water nearby... or along the way.

Good for you the U.S. Government has been spending plenty of tax dollars making highly detailed topographic, water and wetland maps. And great for you that you can download them absolutely free!

All you need to know is where to look. Well, look no further:

USGS Topo Maps: (Click Download Maps in the left sidebar menu - don't worry, even though you select and add maps to a cart they're all free)

EPA State and National Maps of Waters and Wetlands:

I recommend printing out any relevant maps for your local area and expected bug out paths since there's no guarantee you'll have internet during a crisis.

I'm sure there are plenty more free government and private resources out there but that should get you started. If you know of any free fresh water locating resources we should all know about, please feel free to share in the comments below.