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Old 04-29-2012, 01:59 PM
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Default Water



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I figured I would do a multi-part post on water discussing things like contaminants, filtration, purification, storage, etc. I want to do it as a multi-part post as this is really a large topic and it is much easier to break it down into smaller byte sized segments.

So please bear with me as I get it all jotted down.


TreatmentContaminantsFilteringChlorineMiscellaneous
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:10 PM
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Look forward to it, Chris! I've been thinking of increasing my water supply, but in a way that my girlfriend won't get all snoody on me lol.

Can you try to point out pros/cons of storing tap water in milk jugs? This is what I was considering as it won't cost anything at all, and since it's just tap I can dump/refresh as often as needed.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisInGa View Post
I figured I would do a multi-part post on water discussing things like contaminants, filtration, purification, storage, etc. I want to do it as a multi-part post as this is really a large topic and it is much easier to break it down into smaller byte sized segments.

So please bear with me as I get it all jotted down.
Your last thread like this was very useful and it'd be great to have a bunch of info consolidated and maybe people can stop asking the same question every other day?
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:18 PM
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Default Micro organism contaminants

There are three basic types of micro organisms that contaminate water.

Protozoa
Protozoa are the biggest in size of the three main micro organisms. They include Giardia and Cryptosporidium among others. These mostly lead to gastrointestinal illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. They come from human and other animal feces.

There's no commonly advised specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis, and recovery usually depends on the health of your immune system. Most healthy people recover within two weeks without medical attention. However, in some cases Azithromycin may be prescribed.

Metronidazole is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for Giardia.

Bacteria
Bacteria range in size but are typically the middle of the road when it comes to physical size. This includes Botulism, Cholera, E. Coli, Dysentery, Legionellosis, Salmonellosis, and Typhoid. Now some of these are going to be more common in certain parts of the world than others. Legionellosis stands out in this group as its very small more like a virus then your typical bacteria.

Obviously, infections by these various bacteria result in a number of ailments. Treatments for each are obviously specific to the bacteria.

Virus
Virus are the smallest of the water borne micro-organism based contaminants. The most common include Polyomavirus, Hepatitis A, Coronavirus (SARS), and Poliovirus.

Virus are very species specific meaning that a virus that effects a rat may or may not effect humans. Typically it will not. Thus the most common source of infection is from other humans and their feces. As a result human affecting virus are very rare in surface waters in the first world where sewage is properly treated. However, these diseases are very common in the 3rd world where sewage is more often dumped right into the rivers and lakes.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mattieboy131 View Post
Look forward to it, Chris! I've been thinking of increasing my water supply, but in a way that my girlfriend won't get all snoody on me lol.

Can you try to point out pros/cons of storing tap water in milk jugs? This is what I was considering as it won't cost anything at all, and since it's just tap I can dump/refresh as often as needed.
Yes, let's start about 2 liter soda bottles and milk jugs. This is extra, and more portable than my 2 50 gal barrels. ( which are bleached.)

I have over 100 tucked away. I didn't pretreat, figure I would filter and treat when I used it. So far so good but would like others take on it. I figure once a year I would refresh.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:31 PM
mattieboy131 mattieboy131 is offline
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If it's already pre-treated town/well water, would there really be any need to re-treat once it's stored in properly cleaned 2-litre bottles? I like that idea more as they have screw-on tops that create more of a seal than milk jugs.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:34 PM
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Default Contaminant - Disinfection Byproducts

The simple act of disinfecting water can itself create byproducts which can be considered hazardous. These include:

Bromate Bromate occurs when bromide in the water reacts with the disinfectant, ozone used by some water treatment systems and facilities. Prolonged and continuous exposure to high levels of bromate increase your risk of cancer.

Chlorite Chlorite occurs when chlorine dioxide breaks down. Some infants and young children who drink water containing chlorite in excess of the MCL could experience nervous system effects. Similar effects may occur in fetuses of pregnant women who drink water containing chlorite in excess of the MCL. Some people may experience anemia.

Haloacetic acids Haloacetic acids occur when naturally-occurring organic and inorganic materials in the water react with the disinfectants, chlorine and chloramine. Continuous exposure will increase your risk of cancer.

Total Trihalomethanes Trihalomethanes occur when naturally-occurring organic and inorganic materials in the water react with the disinfectants, chlorine and chloramine. Continuous exposure increases the risk of liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems and/or cancer.

The creation of these disinfection byproducts can be minimized by proper filtration of source water before treatment with chlorine, chloramine, and ozone. it is very important to note that you should not apply any of these chemical disinfectants directly to source water.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:54 PM
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Default Contaminants - Inorganic Chemicals

There are a wide variety of inorganic chemicals that can be hazardous when consumed in large quantities. Each contaminant will have a maximum EPA recommend dosage. It is important to note that the EPA sets these maximums based on the lowest common denominator and each person will react differently based on their gender, age, immune system strength, etc. The lowest common denominator is typically considered to be pregnant women, infants, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

Antimony Discharged from petroleum refineries; fire retardants; ceramics; electronics; solder and typically causes an increase in blood cholesterol and/or decrease in blood sugar.

Arsenic Erosion of natural deposits; runoff from orchards, runoff from glass & electronicsproduction wastes and results in skin damage or problems with circulatory systems, and may increase the risk of getting cancer. Arsenic was a very common form of poison in the middle ages.

Asbestos Decay of asbestos cement in water mains; erosion of natural deposits. Asbestos will increased your risk of developing benign intestinal polyps. Air borne exposure obviously leads to an increased risk of lung cancer.

Barium Discharge of drilling wastes; discharge from metal refineries; erosion of natural deposits. Barium will increase your blood pressure.

Beryllium Discharge from metal refineries and coal-burning factories; discharge from electrical, aerospace, and defense industries. Can lead to intestinal lesions.

Cadmium Corrosion of galvanized pipes; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from metal refineries; runoff from waste batteries and paints. Exposure can result in kidney damage.

Copper Most common source is plumbing. High level exposure over years can lead to liver or kidney damage.

Cyanide Discharge from steel/metal factories; discharge from plastic and fertilizer factories. Exposure can lead to nerve damage or thyroid problems.

Lead Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits. Children exposed to lead can experience delays in physical or mental development. Adults may experience kidney problems and/or high blood pressure.

Mercury Erosion of natural deposits; discharge from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills and croplands. Exposure to mercury has a number of effects but ingestion via your water source typically leads to kidney damage.

Nitrate / Nitrite Runoff from fertilizer use; leaking from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits.Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome.

Selenium Discharge from petroleum refineries; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from mines. Exposure can lead to hair or fingernail loss; numbness in fingers or toes; circulatory problems.

Thallium Leaching from ore-processing sites; discharge from electronics, glass, and drug factories. Exposure can lead to hair loss; changes in blood; kidney, intestine, or liver problems.


That's a pretty extensive list. The underlying message here is that water sourced from industrial zones or mining areas should be considered highly suspect. Many of these contaminants will not be filtered by your typical backpacking filter and boiling will not do a thing to protect you.

At the same time though exposure to these will not necessarily kill you right away.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:06 PM
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Default Contaminants - Organic Chemicals

Organic chemicals are typically those that contain oxygen and hydrogen in their molecular makeup. The list is way too large to include here but include items like gasoline, many pestacides and herbicides, and Benzene.

Organic chemicals make their way into our surface waters from farms, from industrial centers, and from our own machines and vehicles. I would consider these the most significant risk inside of the 1st world where virus are a bigger risk in the 3rd world. Boiling water will not protect you from organic chemicals like it will micro-organisms.

Continuous or high levels of exposure to these can lead to nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, circulatory system disorders, reproductive difficulties, and of course an increased risk of cancer.

Luckily MOST of these are easily filtered out using activated carbon. it is for this reason you will hear me repeatedly tell people they should use a carbon stage in their filtering. In the first world I believe it is irresponsible not to.

Of course if your getting your water from a natural spring or a source high in the mountains then the chances of being exposed to these kind of contaminants is smaller than elsewhere.

Remember. Like inorganic chemicals exposure to these wont hurt you right away unless the concentration is high. It will have detrimental effects to your health over time. Acceptable levels of exposure will vary from person to person. Infants, the elderly, and pregnant women again are the highest risk individuals.

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Old 04-29-2012, 03:35 PM
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Default Treatment - Methods

Lets talk about some of the methods that are used to treat water.

Boiling Boiling will reduce or eliminate micro-organisms but it will have little to no effect on organic or inorganic contaminants.

Distillation Distillation is probably the best single means of purifying water but can be inexact unless the operator understands the vaporization point of all the contaminants and utilizes methods to minimize the contaminants in the end product. Generally speaking though this is a very thorough method.

Chemical Disinfection This includes a number of methods including chlorine, chloramine, ozone, and iodine. Chemical disinfection is much more effective against the smaller micro-organisms like bacteria and virus then it is protozoa. Additionally, many of these chemicals can interact with certain organic or inorganic elements in the water and create harmful byproducts. Chemical disinfection should only be used as a secondary step to a larger process the includes some sort of prefiltering. Chlorination works through oxidation and thus will effect more than just micro-organisms. However, it is typically only applied against micro-organisms. I will go into at home chlorination in another post.

Ultraviolet Disinfection Exposure to ultraviolet light destroys DNA and as a result renders harmless micro-organisms which reproduce by mitosis where the DNA strand is replicated. This includes pretty much all of the water borne micro-organisms listed above. This treatment method is typically a secondary process as it does not work well in turbid water and it does nothing for chemical contamination.

Filtration Filtration is a topic all of its own so I will break it out into its own post. But the short and skinny is that you pass water through a medium of one sort or another and particles greater than some size are unable to pass through while the water can. This is a part of nearly every effective treatment process.

Ion Exchange Many of your inorganic chemicals can be removed through ion exchange. This is a chemical reaction where ions in a supplied media attract ions dissolved in your water thus removing them. Zeolite is a type of resin that reacts using ion exchange and can be useful for removing a number of suspended particles.

Flocculation A reaction where an agent(chemical) is added to water that causes suspended particles to bunch together. For example if you add Alum Powder to highly turbid lake water you will find that water clears up rapidly as the suspended particles bind together. Flocculation is one part of a multi-part treatment process and is commonly used by your municipal water system. It often makes it easier to filter out particles that on their own might pass through your filter by getting them to bond together in larger clumps.

Settling This is where source water is stored in a container for a period of time allowing the suspended particulate mater to settle to the bottom of the container. Again it is just a step in a bigger process.


I am sure there are more concepts I am neglecting but these are the most common.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:48 PM
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Found this on the usgs site..It doesn't look to good for the Reno,Nv area..
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:11 PM
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Default Filtering

Filtering is a common means of water treatment. However, not all filters are created equally.

There are three main types of filter:

Sediment filters remove from source water larger particles like clumps of dirt, leaves, bugs, algae, etc. The most common form of sediment filter is the sand filter. You have probably seen a sand filter attached to a swimming pool constantly filtering out the dirt primarily. Sediment filters can also be made from coffee filters, bandannas, etc and are really effective at reducing turbidity.

NOTE: There is also a type of sand filter known as a slow sand filter. That is a very different kind of filter and I'll talk about it later. But it works not by true filtration as much as it creates a bacteria bed that operates on contaminates.

Ceramic Filter Ceramic filters are the basis for many of your commercial back packing filters like Monolithic, Katadyn, Berkfield, etc. While the black berkey is not technically a ceramic filter it can be closely compared. The key here is that ceramic filters will typically have pour sizes smaller than your typical sediment filters capturing most of your protozoa and bacteria. But they will be less effective against virus and chemical contaminates. Those that add activated carbon like some of the katadyn or the black berkey for example will additionally filter out many organic chemicals like pesticides. Particles these filters can remove are typically micrometer scale and thus they are typically called micro filters.

Membrane Filters Membrane filters are much more versatile than ceramic filters and can filter out significantly smaller particles than either sediment filters or ceramic filters. Your Sawyer filters are membrane filters as are reverse osmosis filters. Membrane based filters can remove particles measured on the nanometer scale or smaller. They are categorized into ultra filters, nano filters, and reverse osmosis filters. Each type can filter smaller and smaller particles from the source water.

It is important to note that the smaller the particle to be filtered the more necessary prefilters become. For example if you attempted to filter lake water directly through a reverse osmosis filter you would be constantly cleaning it (aka back washing it).

I have included a couple of graphics that will help illustrate the types of filters and the size of particles they can filter.





Typically nano filters and reverse osmosis filters require higher pressures and thus you don't see backpacking variants.

You can increase the effectiveness of each class of filter by using a flocculant like alum powder prior to filtration. This is particularly true for sand filters.

To desalinate water you will need a nanofilter or better yet a reverse osmosis filter.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:54 PM
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Default Treatment - Overview

Water is a critical element of life, modern industry, and agriculture. As a result an understanding of how to treat water for its various uses is a critical skill all surivivalists/preppers should master.

Water treatment describes those processes used to make water more acceptable for a desired end-use. These can include use as drinking water, industrial processes, medical and many other uses.

Now its important to note that the goal in water treatment varies based on the end use of the water. For example if I was treating water to be used in a nuclear reactor I would want it to be pretty pure leaving no trace of any particles that might be irradiated by the fuel. You might want similar results for various medical uses.

However, for consumption the goal is really to reduce the contaminant level down to the point that it can be considered safe. Safe is obviously different for different people as I have discussed before. The EPA has set and published the maximum levels it deems safe.

The point being that the water that comes out of your tap whether it came from a well or the municipal water system is NOT pure. However, there are a number of applications that require water that is more pure than what we typically deal with for consumption. This thread will attempt to focus on drinking water as opposed to the other uses.
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:03 PM
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Default Slow Sand Filters

A slow sand filter is a special kind of sand filter that can be as effective as a microfilter.

The basic premise is that you run water slowly (must be controlled) through a bed of sand and gravel using gravity. A sticky mat of biological matter, called a “schmutzdecke,” forms on the sand surface, where particles are trapped and organic matter is biologically degraded. Slow sand filters rely on this cake filtration at the surface of the filter for particulate straining. As the surface cake develops during the filtration cycle, the cake assumes the dominant role in filtration rather than the granular media.

You really need to know what you are doing when it comes to the design and operation of a slow sand filter. For example slow sand filters are less effective on cold source water as it slows down the biologic activity and on low nutrient source water as well.

Anyway, i am not going to pretend to be an expert with slow sand filters. I will say that in many cases you will get better results if you use granular activated carbon (GAC) rather than sand.

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Old 04-29-2012, 05:55 PM
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Default Chemical Disinfection - Chlorine

For chemical disinfection I am going to focus on Chlorine as that is where my expertise exists.

Now your municipal water systems are typically using Chlorine gas if they use chlorine (many use ozone or chloramine now a days). Gas is not really feasible for at home use. Alternatives do exist in the form of Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) and Calcium Hypochlorite (powder).

When using chlorine it is important to understand that it can be dangerous and you should not blindly attempt these things without doing your home work. When it comes to disinfection it is better to error on the to much side then on the too little side. However, there is a limit to too much as well. Obviously, if you use to much you can filter out some of the residual using activated carbon. You can also let the water sit and the chlorine will break down over time.

If possible you should utilize a testing kit to measure the actual chlorine content of your water. This will help you ensure that you have sufficient concentration to effectively disinfect the water but also that your concentrations are low enough for subsequent consumption.

Before we get into target concentrations lets talk about what concentration is. We measure chlorine concentrations using parts per million or mg/L. Most of your testing kits will measure concentrations using mg/L. The two are very very close to equivalent but they are not exactly equivalent. For our purposes you can treat them as equivalent. Be careful if you try and scale any of this up though..


A good target concentration for disinfection is 5 mg/L. Be careful not to consume water that is any more concentrated than that. The chlorine will dissipate as it does its work and over time. What is left is called the residual and can help prevent the water from becoming recontaminated. A target residual between 1 mg/L and 2 mg/L is drinkable. Higher levels will smell and taste bad but most people can tolerate twice that. Remember chlorine will dissipate with time. Aerating the water can speed it along. You can aerate the water by pouring it from one container to another repeatedly. You can also run it through activated carbon.

Now before we get started all of the following is based on the realization that the water to be treated is from a well, the municipal water system, or has already been run through at least a microfilter. Never apply chemical decontamination to turbid lake, pond, river, or stream water directly. Filter it first. Failure to observe this rule can result in harmful disinfection byproducts or worse a complete failure to disinfect.

Sodium Hypochlorite You may use unscented clorox bleach to disinfect water. For clorox bleach that has roughly 5 - 6% available chlorine you would use 2 drops per quart, 8 drops per gallon, or 2 drops per liter. Double the number of drops for cloudy or murky water or water that is extremely cold.

Remember that laundry bleach loses its strength over time. The above numbers should be used only with bleach that is 6 months old or less. As bleach ages the concentration of available chlorine will drop. That would effect the amount you would need to add to achieve true disinfection. You can use a pool test kit to be sure if you are using older bleach. You may need to increase the number of drops to reach your target concentration.


Calcium Hypochlorite Many people consider calcium hypochlorite a better alternative to bleach for water disinfection principally because in powder form it has a significantly longer shelf life than the aqueous bleach solution. That being said it is also much more dangerous to handle and store.

Since calcium hypochlorate comes in varying concentrations I need to go into a bit more detail then with the bleach above. Lets start with an equation:

Weight of Water * Volume of water to Treat * Target Concentration
------------------------------------------------------------------
1,000,000 * Strength of Hypochlorite

In the above equation you can substitute one of the following for Weight of Water based entirely on what units you wish to use:


2.204684 lbs / liter
1000.028 grams / liter
35.2670 ounces / liter

8.345404 lbs / gallon
3785.4118 grams / gallon
133.526 ounces / gallon

0.52158775 lbs / cup
236.5882 grams / cup
8.3454 ounces / cup

Since my scales measure weight in grams and I am mostly treating gallons of water I like to use grams / gallon.

A target concentration of 5 ppm should be used for surface water. 2 ppm for well and municipal water sources unless they are known to be contaminated.

Finally, the Strength of Hypochlorite will typically be a percentage. 78% calcium hypochlorite for example would be .78 while 60% hypochlorite would be .6.. You should substitute the proper decimal representation for the percentage of hypochlorite found in the product you have purchased.

So lets do an example. We want to treat a 55 gallon drum of room temperature water that came from the municipal water system originally. We are treating it with Turbo Shock which is 78% calcium hypochlorite.


3785.4118 grams / gallon * 55 gallons * 2 ppm
--------------------------------------------- ~= .5338 grams
1,000,000 * .78

In the above case I could use .5338 grams of powder 78% calcium hypochlorite to retreat a 55 gallon drum. To do so it is advisable to first siphon off 1/2 gallon of your storage water and mix the powder with that thoroughly. The idea here is to ensure the powder is completely dissolved which isn't easy to do in a 55 gallon drum. Once dissolved pour the solution back into the drum and reseal it.

Remember, using a pool test kit will help you ensure you have met your target concentrations. Always verify your results as even calcium hypochlorite will break down over enough time.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:48 PM
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Default Water Storage

Why do we want to store water when its all around us? The simple answer is that it won't always be all around us or the water that's all around us may be too heavily contaminated for us to remedy.

Suppose for example your SHTF situation is a prolonged drought or a train that derailed and dumped toxic chemicals or a flood that contaminated your pond with god knows what. Maybe its frozen over due to unusual cold spell or its just plain winter when you need it.

Or maybe you just can't get to the water source for whatever reason. Maybe its a powerful flu that has you holed up in your house unwilling to venture out. Whatever the reason you should always be prepared with some amount of water storage.

Now how much you should store is certainly debatable. You'll often hear people suggest 1 gallon per person per day you wish to be prepared. But that is a bare minimum used mostly for consumption. IMHO 2 gallons per person per day is the minimum I would ever recommend. But I'd suggest much more than that if you have the means.

Now people have asked all sorts of questions about storage containers. If I had to give a recommendation it would be food grade plastic container designed for water storage. Of course economics will dictate that we cut corners. There is one absolute truth that you should never violate. NEVER EVER store water in a plastic container that is either NOT food grade or has previously stored any toxic substance. Doing so will in all likelihood poison you and your loved ones.

Now I am sure you have all heard the concept of diversity. Water is no different. You should have a diverse source of water and you should have a diverse water storage. What I mean is your storage should consist of both small and portable and large scale. Obviously, trying to store 1000 gallons of water in 2 liter bottles is going to be pointless. But you certainly want to have water you can pick up and take with you too. A good mix of water sizes from small bottles to 5 gallon totes to 55 gallon drums or larger are all good ideas. My personal favorite on the large side are the IBC Totes which hold 275 gallons a piece and can stack 2 high in a 4x4 foot area. On the smaller side I like the 5 gallon water cooler bottles and standard every day bottled water.

Now many will need to repurpose previously used containers for storing water. Economics often play a part in this decision. 2 and 3 liter bottles are some of the best if your a soda drinker. There are some fairly sturdy containers that ship with orange, apple, or grape juice as well that make good choices. The key here is to thoroughly clean them out before storing your water in them. I recommend that you sterilize them with a bleach solution before storing your water in them. You can make that from unscented house hold clorox or from calcium hypochlorite. In this case the target concentration is a bit higher than you would want in your end water supply.

Try a target concentration of 200 ppm. For clorox that's roughly 1 Tbsp of bleach to one gallon of water. For calcium hypochlorite plug 200 ppm into the equation I gave in a previous post. Now pour the solution into your storage container and shake it up. Let it sit sealed for 30 minutes and then flip it up side down and let it sit another 30 minutes. (This technique obviously doesn't work with very large storage containers.) When done pour out the solution. It is now ready to fill with water for storage. You will not need to add any additional chlorine as the residual from the sterilization will more than cover you.

Now some of you may be tempted to use used milk jugs. There are all sorts of myths going around on that one but there is one undeniable truth too. And that is milk jugs are made weakly and WILL LEAK on you eventually. So do as you like but be prepared to clean it up at some point.

Now if you stored your water as I mentioned above and the container is airtight you'll probably be good forever. But since every ones source water is different and there are tons and tons of different variables that can effect it you should probably retreat your water periodically. You can do this by adding 8 drops of clorox per gallon of water or an appropriate amount of calcium hypochlorite (as defined in a previous post) every 6 to 12 months.

Municipal water systems attempt to keep a fairly low residual chlorine level at the faucet. This level makes the water more drinkable but it doesn't work great for long term storage. So if you are not sterilizing the container then make sure you add appropriate amounts of chlorine to the water before sealing it up. That would be 8 drops of unscented bleach or 2 ppm of calcium hypochlorite.

There are other ways to store your water as well. another site user had this idea which seems pretty sound to me. Of course it requires glass bottles which can break when dropped. Probably not a good option if you live in area prone with earthquakes but it could be a useful method to the rest of us.

Finally, simply putting back some water and purifying it before use is also perfectly viable. Chemical contaminants aren't going to increase in a sealed container but organic contaminants can reproduce and increase their numbers over time. However, algae, etc are much easier to deal with then mercury, arsenic, gasoline, etc. If you have a plan for emergency water you probably have a filter of some sort. You can certainly use it to treat your storage water just as easily if not more so then pond water.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:14 PM
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Default

5-10 ppm chlorine is a bit strong.

Maybe not for an initial treatment but to high for water that's already been treated. After a sufficient contact time the levels should be below 3ppm.

Where I work the range is lower then that. We never take it above. 3ppm. Matter of fact we have to inform the state if it exceeds this level. Our 'normal' operating range is 1-3 ppm and our bosses don't like that large a range and try to get us to maintain it to 1.5 2.0 for a free chlorine after the contact time.

According to the Federal standards all that is required is a .2ppm free chlorine after sufficient contact time. The problem with this is inexpensive pool test kits aren't very accurate at that low a range. (they depend on human eyesight and a comparison to a color chart) So a .5ppm usually is recommended as a minimum.


Same thing applies to municipal pools. The range of 1-3 ppm is the suggested range to be safe without getting near either the low or high points, where it becomes unsafe.

Even the sewage plant I worked at had almost identical ranges as that for the swimming pools and the water plants I've work at.

According to our states laws a 5 ppm has to be reported and the public notified. Keep it below 3ppm and everyone seems less stressed out.


Other then that everything has been spot on as far as what's been taught to me and required by my State and the Feds.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:08 PM
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Default City Water

Before I get to deep into city water everyone should realize that every city will be different. What I am about to write is a broad generalization.

Most cities treat their water in treatment facilities. They then pump that water to your house through some sort of distribution system. There may be many pumps between your home and the treatment plant the water originated from. In most cases these pumps will have backup power supplies that will last anywhere from a few hours to a day or two at most. When the power goes down so to eventually will your water.

I know some of you may be thinking that even without electricity you'd still get water for however long the water tower can feed you. And your right. Just note that most water towers are designed to supplement water pressure during peek loads and are not really designed to store water for more than a few hours. So in essence that water supply will run itself out very quickly. Much faster than the backup power supply in fact.

Now in order for the water to reach you it must travel through various pipes owned and operated by potentially several different people/organizations. Some contaminants may enter the system from these pipes. For example some older installations may use asbestos to insulate the pipes, others may contaminate with trace levels of copper or lead or iron as the pipes age. Even the newer PVC pipes can introduce trace contaminates when they get hot. But the largest source of contamination is broken or leaky pipes in the distribution system and these are far more common then you might imagine.

Now I am not trying to get you all worked up and concerned because in most cases there is nothing to worry about. Municipal water sources carry chlorine residual to help protect the water for contaminants that enter the system in the distribution system. I just wanted to point out what is involved so you can use your own mind to think through some of the issues you may face.

The number one cause of water outage is a ruptured pipe somewhere between the water plant and your home. Depending on where it occurs it could effect just your home, your neighborhood, or a good portion of the city. It will vary on how much time is necessary to fix the problem. Boil orders are almost always implemented after water service has been restored from a rupture as all the pipes between the rupture and your house are likely now contaminated. Obviously, continued exposure to the chlorine added at the treatment plants will eventually work that out.

Now where you live will dictate how old your distribution system is. But many of these systems are nearing their original design lifetime. When you hear the president say we need billions to repair and upgrade our bridges and road transportation systems believe me when I say this. Our water systems are much worse off as they never get the press. I guess you can say out of sight out of mind.

If your worried about crumbling infrastructure you should be aware of the systems that deliver your water. They along with the power grid will be the first systems to fail.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:22 PM
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Default Solar Disinfection

Many of you have probably heard someone say that you can simply fill a clear plastic bottle with water and place it in the sun to disinfect it.

This is actually true. Its called SODIS or Solar Disinfection. This works in two main ways. First the Sun produces ultraviolet radiation that will sterilize micro organisms in the water. Second the sun will heat the water up killing some of the micro organisms contained within.

Now there are limitations to this method. But as a survivalist you may be presented with a need to disinfect some water and be without any sort of tool to do so. This method would certainly be better than nothing in most cases.

Check here for more information
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:11 PM
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Default Activated Carbon

I mentioned above that in the 1st world I think it is irresponsible not to utilize activated carbon in your water treatment. Here I want to go into more detail on that activated carbon.

There are two main types of activated carbon:

Granular Granular activated carbon (GAC) resembles sand. You can get it in varying sizes and made from varying source materials but the best I have found for water purification is the 8 x 16 mesh size and I prefer that made from coconut shells.

Granular activated carbon makes the perfect media for a slow sand filter. It is also often included inside of your various ceramic filters like Katadyn's Gravadyn, the monolithic filters, the Berkfield Sterasyl to name but a few.

The down side to granular activated carbon is that it clumps and it has a limited usage lifetime of roughly 6 months. Obviously this time estimate is a rough approximation. Because it can not be back washed it must be replaced. Most of your ceramic filters that also include activated carbon do not allow for the carbon to be replaced thus limiting the lifespan of a filter that otherwise would work for a much longer period of time.

Block Carbon Block carbon is a solid piece of carbon that is formed into a filter. The Black Berkey is an example of this where its design is capable of filtering both organic chemicals as well as micro-organisms. The advantages of the block carbon design is that it can be back washed thus increasing its useful lifespan. Although even with back washing block carbon filters will not have the same usage lifespan as a plain ceramic filter. They will, however, last much longer than granular activated carbon. The down side of course is that you can't buy replacement activated carbon for them.

Because of the limitations to most of your Ceramic/GAC filters (aka you can't replace the GAC because of the filter design) and the limited life span of the carbon block filters I like to separate filtration from the activated carbon stage in my treatment processes. Black Berkeys are nice but they are very expensive.

Now I have mentioned in another thread how you can creatively engineer a GAC replacement technique for the Katadyn Gravadyn filters. But for the most part I now avoid these kind of filters.

Instead I use things like the Katadyn Carbon Cartridge instead. This little device is fairly cheap and can be added onto any tube based filter setup common in backpacking filters. You can easily replace the granular activated carbon housed within.

If you want to create a more permanent fixture I would instead recommend a carbon block filter. If for example you ware building a filter to operate from your house where back packing won't be a need these block filters can be back washed extending their usable lifespan. Of course the GAC can be replaced much more cheaply. NOTE: Although the Black Berkeys are both a filter and a carbon block, most block carbon filters are not sufficient to filter micro-organisms from your water source.

Finally, if you want to keep it simple you can use some of the activated carbon pitchers like the Pur Pitcher or Pur Dispenser. Simply filter and possibly chemically treat your water and then poor the result into one of these devices. You'll need to stock pile the Pur carbon filters which is certainly more expensive then GAC but much less so than Black Berkeys. There are youtube videos on how to creatively engineer a solution to GAC replacement in these filters too.

Here is one source of 8 x 16 GAC You can also get this from many pet stores in their fish supply sections.
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drinking water after shtf, safe drinking water, slow sand filter, water filter, water purification, water purification after shtf, waterborne diseases, waterborne pathogens



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