Here are some important drinking water safety points to keep in mind, and an overview of what is available in the Reno area.
The bottom line: 1.5 gallons of water per day per person.
Now a few words of caution:
First, on using used containers: even if the container is rated as “food grade” and you thoroughly clean and disinfect it, there is still a high probability that there will remain a taste from the previous contents. Keep in mind that if your water tastes crappy, you will be less likely to drink it and will risk dehydration (which can lead to serious injury, even death). It is highly recommended that if you do bring water in used containers that you use that as utility water for cleaning and bathing, running mister systems, and such, and keep your drinking (and cooking) water only in new containers.
Second, never use garbage bags to store drinking water. The lining of garbage bags is usually impregnated with chemicals that retard spoilage and suppress odors, and are not safe for human consumption.
Third, keep your water bottles out of direct sunlight and away from strong odors. Sunlight is energetic enough to cause chemical reactions in the bottle’s plastic, imparting unpleasant odors and tastes to the water. Also, if there is anything in the water, like bacteria or algae, the sunlight will foster growth, which could cause illness as well as bad taste. Keep in mind that the “milk jug” style plastic (polyethylene) breaths, allowing outside air to reach your water. Do not store your bottles near any chemicals or other things with strong odors — don’t store in a box next to a bag of onions unless you like onion flavored water!
And lastly, store your empty bottles with the caps loose or off. The desert heat can make the air in the bottle expand and alter the bottle’s shape (round bottom or ruined handles) and can even split the seams.
Where to get water in Reno, Sparks and Gerlach?
Reno and Sparks lay in a basin known as the Truckee Meadows, an area of former wetlands through which the Truckee River flows. So lots of great water here! There are currently four establishments dotting throughout the Truckee Meadows devoted exclusively to water, one in Gerlach, and one just for water delivery to the playa.
1070 Gentry Way, Reno – 775-337-8111 – map
Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-3pm, but will have special (8am-8pm) hours for Burning Man – call ahead for possible after-hours appointments. Located right next to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and just off US-395. Simply Water’s purified water is 40 cents per gallon, and they are able to fill any-sized container – including RV’s. They also stock a wide variety of bottles and jugs in sizes ranging from 1/2 liter to 5-gallon.
1196 Rock Boulevard, Sparks – 775-358-9893 – map
Open daily 10am-6pm, open 9am-9pm from Aug. 22-Aug. 30. Call ahead for possible after-hours appointment. Very accommodating, Fresca Waterhouse provides water purified by reverse-osmosis at 40 cents per gallon to fill also sizes, including RV’s. 15, 30, and 55-gallon water barrels are also available. Water bottle sizes available up to 7 gallons, and they also have collapsable/reusable bottles, spigots, caps, and pumps. Two vending machines also operating 24 hours.
Red Rock Spring Water
1145 Icehouse Avenue, Reno – 775-331-5908 – map
Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, extended or weekend hours by appointment. Red Rock provides naturally-filtered spring water drawn from the Red Rock Spring 30 miles north of Reno. Which means it is higher-quality, tastier, and perhaps healthier water than what you may find elsewhere. Water is $7.50 per 5 gallons. 3 and 5-gallon containers can also be purchased and returned for a $8 deposit/refund. BPA-free bottles as well as spigots and pumps are also available, and you can fill up your RV with tap water. Red Rock also provides delivery of water of only 50 bottles and up to participants/theme camps as well as pickup of their empty containers in Black Rock City. If interested in delivery, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Water Depot
895 South Center Street, Reno – 775-843-7852 – map
24-hour vending-machine service available with spring and distilled water at 50 cents per gallon. Well-lit at night. Cash only. Easy access to fill your own sanitized containers. One and three-gallon containers for sale. Check the website or call for further info.
Gerlach General Improvement District
330 Short Drive, Gerlach – 775-557-2601 – map Open Aug 19-22, 9am-5pm; Aug 23-26, 8am-midnight; Aug 27-28, 9am-5pm.
The Gerlach GID (the local governing body of Gerlach) will be selling potable water to fill up RVs and water tanks of any size, with the funds going to support the town of Gerlach. Look out for directional signs just as you enter town on Main Street, the station is located in front of the town’s Community Center. Rates are 50 cents per gallon up to 100 gallons, 45 cents per gallon between 100 and 200 gallons, and 40 cents per gallon for above 200 gallons. 6 and 7-gallon water containers also available (free water with purchase of container). Cash only, but ATM is onsite.
Finally, there is another company in the Reno area that provides regular and only potable-water delivery service to camps and RV’s in Black Rock City:
Sparks – 775-722-1515 – 775-771-0720
Highly recommended you make reservations for water delivery through filling out the form on their website before you head out to the playa. Or you can send an email to email@example.com or call them.
For Water Containers larger than 5 gallons, such as barrels, you can find them at Twin City Surplus, Fresca Waterhouse, some of the Save Mart Supermarkets, and at the Sportsman’s Warehouse.
Twin City Surplus
1675 East 4th St – 775-323-5630 – map
Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm. Also known as “The Big Red Barn,” Twin City Surplus is located in the center of the Reno-Sparks area, near I-80 and US-395. They try to keep 20, 30 and 55-gallon sizes – both new and used “food grade” containers – in stock for Burning Man. As they are a surplus store, their prices and stock on-hand vary. By the way, they also have just about every kind of camping and adventure gear and military surplus you can imagine – tents, tarps and parachutes are a specialty. From I-80 take the east 4th Street exit (#16) and turn right going west on 4th Street. Twin City will be down about ¾ mile on your right.
All open 24/7 during Burning Man. Carrying 15 and 55-gallon water barrels, spigots and pumps, as well as bulk water in 2.5 and 5-gallon sizes.
3306 Kietzke Ln – 775-828-1500 – map
Open Mon-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 10am-9pm. Sportsman’s near US-395 in southwest Reno carries water barrels in 15, 30, and 55-gallon sizes, as well as water pumps.
Finally, there is also a great alternative to plastic bottled water called BIOTA. It comes in a corn-based bottle that has all the characteristics of plastic but will biodegrade in 80 days without any harmful effects to the environment. Although studies on the leaching properties of toxics from plastics (i.e. PET) may be inconclusive at this time, we know that BIOTA’s corn-based bottle is 100% safe, especially when used/reused under extreme conditions. BIOTA is available in 12oz., 1/2 liter, and full liter sizes at many natural and health food stores throughout California and Nevada including: Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods, Raley’s, New Leaf Community Markets and Better Nutrition stores. For a complete listing of locations, visit the BIOTA website.
And for further resource options in Reno-Sparks, visit our Reno pages.