grass. Dig a ditch at the base of the greenest area and
wait for the water to seep into it.
Water is usually more plentiful and easier to find in
valley floors or on the slopes bordering the valley
because the water table is more likely to surface in these
areas. Land above a river valley also yields springs or
seepage along the base, even when the stream is dry. If
you decide to dig for water, first look for signs that it is
present. Dig in the floor of a valley under a steep slope,
or dig out a green spot where a spring was during the
wet season. In the low forests, along the seashore, and
in river plains, the water table is close to the surface.
Very little digging can yield a good supply of water.
Runoff water is found above the water table and includes
streams, stagnant pools, and water in bogs. Consider this
water contaminated and dangerous, even if it is away
from human habitation. Boil or treat this water with
water purification tablets before you drink it.
You can find water in the dunes above the beach or
even in the beach itself. Look in hollows between sand
dunes for visible water, and dig if the sand seems moist.
On the beach, scoop holes in the sand at low tide about
100 yards inland of the high-tide mark This water may
be brackish, but it is reasonably safe. Run it through a
sand filter to reduce the brackish taste. DO NOT drink
Figure 6-5.--Extracting water from vines.
seawater. The salt concentration of seawater is so high
that body fluids must be drawn to eliminate it.
Eventually, your kidneys will cease functioning.
may be your best bet. Clear, sweet sap from many plants
is easily obtained. This sap is pure and chiefly water.
Watch for water indicators when you are isolated in
Many plants with fleshy leaves or stems store drinkable
the desert or arid regions. Some of the signals include
water. Try them wherever you find them, Desert plants
the direction in which certain birds fly, the presence of
often have their roots near the surface. The Australian
plants, and converging game trails. The sand grouse of
Asia, crested larks, and zebra birds visit water holes at
water tree, desert oak, and bloodwood are some
least once a day; parrots and pigeons must live within
examples. Pry these roots out of the ground and cut them
reach of water. Note the direction in which these birds
into 24- to 36-inch lengths. Remove the bark and suck
fly and chances are you will find something to drink
out the water.
Cattails, greasewood, willows, elderberry, rushes, and
Not all vines yield palatable water, but try any vine
you find. Use the following method for tapping a vine.
surface. Look for these signs and dig. If you do not have
It works on any species.
a bayonet or entrenching tool, dig with a flat rock sharp
stick, your knife, or a spoon. Places that are visibly
1. Cut a deep notch in the vine as high up as you
damp, where animals have scratched, or where flies
hover indicate recent surface water. Dig there for water.
2. Cut the vine off close to the ground and let the
Collect dew on clear nights by sponging it up with
water drip into your mouth or a container.
your handkerchief. During a heavy dew, you should be
3. When the water ceases to drip, cut another
able to collect about a pint an hour.
section off the top.
When you are unsuccessful in your search for
4. Repeat this until the supply of fluid is exhausted.
ground or runoff water or if you do not have time to
(See fig. 6-5.)
purify the questionable water, a water-yielding plant