I thought it would be great to access our emergency water as part of our food storage challenge since we'd never before tried to get water out of these barrels, except when changing it every year or so.
A tube or garden hose could always be used as a siphon, but we have this fancy pump thing we bought at the same time we bought our barrels. I wanted to see if it worked. Robert used a channel lock wrench to unscrew the plug on the top of the barrel and attached the pump.
We had to loosen the red cap at the very top and then pump. The water started flowing with no problem. I filled up my pitcher about 1/4 of the way (no need to waste the water when we still had stuff coming out of the faucet in the kitchen) and took it in the house for a drink.
This water has been in our barrels since October 2009 which isn't terribly long. I've heard that water stored for a long time can taste funny and needs to be stirred up a little to mix in oxygen to improve taste.
As for my taste of food storage water, I thought it was fine. It didn't have an odd taste although it didn't taste identical to the stuff coming out of our tap--the best tap water in the world, by the way.
When we filled our barrels back in October, we used clean, treated water from our city (a.k.a the garden hose). As an added precaution, in case we didn't clean out the barrel thoroughly, we also treated the water with chlorine bleach. You only need an 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water for this process and you need to use pure chlorine bleach without any added cleansers, scents, thickeners or additives. Here is more information.
It was an educational 6 days, and I'm glad it's over.