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Traditional Water Sources

Stonespouts
 
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Is the water you drink safe? Print E-mail
Posted by Administrator   
Tuesday, 27 July 2010

ImageThe global impact of contaminated drinking water is staggering. And when the water you are going to drink might be laden with parasites or bacteria, you can't afford to skimp on water purification. In the very circumstances that put you in contact with questionable water (being in the wilderness, surviving or recovering from a disaster, or living in a part of the world where water isn’t purified for you) the last thing you want to do is to get sick.

Drinking water may be contaminated at the source or during storage; strategies to reduce waterborne disease transmission must safeguard against both events.

Purifying household water

  • • Clean the containers in which you are going to hold or store the water. Use dish soap and water. Rinse thoroughly. After washing them, submerge them in a solution of one teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to every quart (or litre) of water and then rinse thoroughly with a weaker mixture of bleach and water. Don’t use any container that has had milk or fruit juice in it. Plastic soda bottles are suitable.
  • • Filter water through a clean cloth. Then allow it to settle for at least 30 minutes and pour off the clear water for purifying. This process of filtering and settling is especially important if you are going to be using chemical purification because disinfectants are less effective in cloudy, murky, or colored water.
  • • You can use cotton cloth, such as a clean handkerchief or clean white sock, or silk. One way to set this up is by rolling a clean sock up funnel stuff it down to the neck of the funnel. Pour your water through the filter until it is clear to the eye.
  • • One way to speed up clearing of water is to add a little alum (aluminum sulfate). This causes impurities to coagulate which are removed as the particulate settles to the bottom of the container.
  • • Boiling kills most types of disease-causing organisms and is the most recommended purification technique. Boil the water for one full minute, then let it cool. Make sure it’s a full, rolling boil. If you are more than one mile above sea level, boil three minutes longer.
  • • To improve the flavour of purified water aerate it by pouring it from one clean container to another several times.
  • • Once the water in a container has been purified, open and close the container carefully. Don’t touch the in side or the rim with your fingers, or else the water could become contaminated. Don’t drink directly from the container. Contact with your lips and mouth can contaminate water that’s going to be stored. If you don’t drink the water immediately, write the date on the bottle. Store it in a cool dark place.

Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) method

Pouring the water into clear plastic pet bottles, and exposing to direct sunlight for at least six hours, has been shown to be an effective method of disinfecting.

The treatments described below work only in situations where the water is unsafe because of the presence of bacteria or viruses. If you suspect the water is unsafe because of chemicals, oils, poisonous substances, sewage or other contaminants, do not use the water for drinking.

Storing water safely

  • • Store one gallon of water per person per day.
  • • Store at least a three-day supply of water per person.
  • • Get the water from a safe supply.
  • • Seal water containers tightly, label with date, and store in a cool, dark place.
  • • Replace water every six months.
  • • Never reuse a container that contained toxic materials such as pesticides, solvents, chemicals, oil or antifreeze.
  • • Cloudy water should be filtered before boiling or adding bleach. Filter water using coffee filters, paper towels, cheese cloth or a cotton plug in a funnel.

Chemical purification

If boiling is not possible, treat water by adding liquid household bleach. Be sure to read the label. Disinfecting with household bleach kills some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms. The bleach must contain chlorine in order to work. Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Most household chlorine bleaches have 4-6 per cent available chlorine, in which case you should add 1/8 teaspoon (eight drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it.
Granular calcium hypochlorite works in the same way as household bleach. You can dissolve one heaped teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite in two gallons of water to make a disinfecting solution. Then add one part of the disinfecting solution to each 100 parts of water to purify.
Potassium Permanganate (KMnO4) can be used to disinfect water. The water should be colored slightly pink, three or four crystals in a quart or litre of water. Let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes. This is definitely an emergency measure, and should not be used for planned leisure activities. Disinfecting with iodine is generally less effective than chlorine in controlling the parasite Giardia, but it's better than no treatment at all.
Add five drops of 2 per cent iodine to every quart or litre of clear water; add 10 drops if the water is cloudy. Let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes. If you don't have instructions, use one tablet for each quart or litre of water to be purified.

Source: The Himalayan Times, July 27, 2010

 
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