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  • Purifying Water

    Two part question...

    1. What techniques do you use to purify water for drinking?
    2. Is there any water-borne virus threats in the adirondacks?

    I used to boil my water before drinking, but... was shaking down my pack this spring, and had started to think I might as well bring more water instead of all the fuel. Anyways, one thought led to another and I ended up buying a water filter.

    Works great for me, I'm usually more interested in back country water destinations on my trips, so there's usually a source of water where i'm going. The thing is... I just keep thinking "geez, this is so easy to do -- I'm definately going to get sick". I haven't gotten sick yet (have always picked clear running water for a source since I bought the filter), but.... I've known since before I bought my filter, that it's great against giardia, but, does nothing against viruses.

    I don't necessarily think of the 'dacks as being a haven for water borne virus, but, I've heard enough tales from people who have gone overseas about waters with viruses that affect your brain, and give you polio, and all kinds of other viral horror stories.

    Anyways, think a filter is enough, or there should be more processing of water to make it potable?

    edit: maybe this is the wrong place for the question... i'm new to these forums, maybe this is more of a gear question, but... i guess the 'is there any viral threats in the dacks' part of the question kind of belongs in this category, anyways... to TPTB, move me if necessary, I'm not sure. thanks for your patience with a noob here.
    Last edited by protocoldroid; 06-25-2004, 12:21 PM. Reason: small addition (see bottom)
    "ya gotta get a better view outside, cause you'll burn right up inside, through the knowledge fools get the mileage, birds eye view, catch all this" -del

  • #2
    Originally posted by protocoldroid
    Two part question...

    1. What techniques do you use to purify water for drinking?
    2. Is there any water-borne virus threats in the adirondacks?

    1] some filter, some boil.
    mostly, water i'm using for cooking just gets boiled (most of my cooking is of the "just add boiling water" type.)
    water for drinking just gets filtered.

    2] extremely rare to nonexistant in the ADKs - to the best of my knowledge

    3] welcome C3-PO
    Fly Fisher's Anglers Association- a fine drinking club with a fishing problem
    www.GoFlyFish.org

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    • #3
      http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=83

      Prior thread on the subject that should answer some of your questions.

      Moving this to our gear and survival section. Welcome to the forums!

      Comment


      • #4
        sacco: good to hear someone else confirm my thoughts that the dacks probably aren't a danger-zone for water-borne virus, and to filter/boil are almost considereded interchangeable. thanks for the welcome and also, nice job picking up the star wars reference... not everyone can

        kevin: thanks for the pointer, and the warm welcome
        Last edited by protocoldroid; 06-25-2004, 03:52 PM. Reason: typo
        "ya gotta get a better view outside, cause you'll burn right up inside, through the knowledge fools get the mileage, birds eye view, catch all this" -del

        Comment


        • #5
          Way back when - the 70's - we would just dip a Sierra cup into a brook and drink up. However, those days are gone. Nowadays, the only time I do this is way, way up a hillside where the water is just popping outta the ground as little feeders not even organized into a stream yet.

          If you read the Book "How to **** in the Woods" even doing my method will give you pause for thought tho. (I do it less & less now) They assert that Giardia is bad, that Cryptosporidium (spelling?) is even worse, and that it's unavoidable anywhere at anytime. Even in spring water such as King Phillip's spring just after Malfunction Junction where rt.73 begins.

          Most backpacking filters: PUR - Mini Works and the like are good for all but the most foul water that one would find in Third World countries. In places such as that, where folks wash, crap, and drink all in the same river, these filters wouldn't cut it. I imagine that those poor folks must have some amazing tolerances built up over the years to be able to cope with such rancid water.

          Contrary to all of the above precautions, I do know some hikers who still don't filter all of the time (Pin Pin Jr. for one, whom I observed just filling a bottle up, high on Panther Brook) I guess those that have not been bitten by the bug are pretty lucky. Those who have been stricken, thought that they would die. And they would have welcomed it........
          Happy Trails!
          AlpineSummit

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AlpineSummit
            Most backpacking filters: PUR - Mini Works and the like are good for all but the most foul water that one would find in Third World countries. In places such as that, where folks wash, crap, and drink all in the same river, these filters wouldn't cut it. I imagine that those poor folks must have some amazing tolerances built up over the years to be able to cope with such rancid water.


            no tolerances yet Alpine, that's one of the reasons why ~25% of those same folks are dying right now.

            i've also read that when testing the various waters in the adk's it would take someone on average a month or 100+ liters of water to get giardia.

            but i guess the key words in that statement are "on average"

            i'd much rather boil or pump then take my chances.
            Fly Fisher's Anglers Association- a fine drinking club with a fishing problem
            www.GoFlyFish.org

            Comment


            • #7
              Worse thing in the world is to be out in the middle of nowhere (literally) and end up with dysentery or some such thing!

              Better safe then sorry.

              I use a General Ecologies Micro water filter and I carry tablets in my first aid kit in case of fauilure.

              I suppose if it's a day hike or just an overnighter, it's not life threatening, but whats wrong with being stupidly safe instead of dangerously stupid?
              "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson

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              • #8
                Originally posted by sacco
                i've also read that when testing the various waters in the adk's it would take someone on average a month or 100+ liters of water to get giardia.
                I've read that too Sacco, but on the only Peak I took my dog on, I let him drink straight from brooks, puddles (anything along the way). He crapped like it was his job for like a week after, and generally seemed miserable to boot. He might not have had giardia, but whatever he did have, sucked real bad

                So that fact is probably correct, but I filter everything since then just in case.
                "I can feel your anger. It gives you focus. It makes you stronger. " Supreme Chancellor

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                • #9
                  Gee! I never thought of using a dog as a filter. Sounds like it didn't work very well.

                  I used a filter for the first time ever on my last hike and I'm hooked. I was tired of carrying all those pounds of H20. Now its like the good ole days except now you toss this thingy into the creek and pump away into your hydration unit or whatever you carry. Note that you need to be careful and take note of the availability of water.
                  The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.

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                  • #10
                    Giardia is can be a problem in some parts of the 'dacks. I still use a filter for my water.
                    How is it that you are heading west? Well, we face north and then really sudden like turn left.

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                    • #11
                      I read an article in Backpacker magazine that did a thorough study on the subject, and they said, odds are you would have to drink quite a bit of water to get some bad results. BUT, you have to consider the source (from where does it flow?). Is it a high traffic area? Is there a beaver dam upstream? No one likes getting sick. So I always like to filter my water just in case. And like Sacco, if I don't have a filter, boiling is just fine also.

                      I had to do that once. The Oswagatchie River clogged my filter within the first pumping on a four day trip into the Five Ponds Wilderness. If you have to boil your water, I suggest letting whatever water you collect settle a little bit first to allow any particles to sink. Then pour off any floaties (word?), and then pour the good water,or siphon, and dump the rest. Nice thing about boiling over filtering is that you retain the true flavor of the water that is distinct AND unique to that area. :headbang:

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Purifying Water in the adirondacks

                        Hello about getting good clean water, I have backpacked many many areas in the Adirondacks and have flitered water from alot of different suppies, i always try to get water that is running, but sometimes it just not there, as to date i do believe my brain is still fairly good, but dont asks my friends, you may get a different answer, i use many different filters and i have never gotten sick at all, no need to worry the way the rains have been ni virus can survive it, peace Dan :headbang:

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                        • #13
                          All the information that I am about to impart on you came from the December 2003 issue of Bacpacker magazine. The title of the article was "What's in the water?". by Peter Jaret

                          Microbiology 101
                          Bacteria
                          Simple one-celled organisms shaped like balls, rods, or spirals. Of the 1,600 known species, 200 cause human ilness. Example: E. coli

                          Protozoa
                          Single-celled bugs that are larger and more complex than bacteria. Among 30,000 protozoan species, only a few cause human diseases. Example: Giardia intestinalis

                          Viruses
                          Bundles of genetic information wrapped in protective coats. Viruses are 100 to 1,000 times smaller than bacteria. Example: Norwalk Virus

                          "Getting sick from backcountry water is like being attacked by a shark - a very rare event that has been blown way out of proportion by the public and the press." Thomas R. Welch, MD

                          Cleaning eating utensils and washing hands regularly with soap and water proved more effective at reducing the risk of diarrhea than treating water.
                          AT thru-hiker study, University of Minnesota

                          "The risk of coming down with a water-borne infection from drinking backcountry water is almost nil. I've been backpacking for years and I've never owned a filter. With afew exceptions, I drink water straight from the source. I've never gotten sick from drinking unteated water out in the wilderness." Robert Derlet, M.D., professor of medicine and wilderness medicine expert, University of California at Davis

                          "Drinking any kind of untreated water carries some risk. The higher in the mountains and the farther from human encroachment, the lower the risk that the water is contaminated. But there's always some risk. And given that a case of giardiasis or cryptosporidiosison the trail can be a pretty nasty experience, I figure it's better to be safe than sorry." Joan B. Rose, Ph.D., Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University

                          "Sample a creek at one point in time and you could have a flush of organisms from an animal that just deficated upstream. Sample it 20 feet upstream 2 hours later and you could find nothing." Tod Schimelpfenig, curriculum director for the Wilderness Medicine Institute, NOLS

                          In theory, swallowing a single microbe could make you sick - but that would be very bad luck indeed. Susceptibility to illness from intestinal infection varies wildly with your age and size and the strength of your immune system. If you're a healthy adult with a strong stomach, you have more leeway calculating how much exposure you're willing to risk. Are you prone to bouts of food poisoning or other intestinal distress? Better treat all water to be safe, since you may be vulnerable to even low concentrations of microorganisms. Likewise for the very young, very old, and anyone who is immunocomprimised.

                          Crunching the Numbers:
                          4 - Percentage of positive tests for viable crypto cysts in a 2003 study of 600 water samples from six municipal watersheds by America Water

                          .0068 - Average concentration per liter of crypto in the positive samples

                          1,500 - Average number of liters of the contaminated water you'd need to drink in 24 hours to ingest an infectious dose

                          1 in 100 - The average risk of infection from a single giardia cyst

                          Stay Clean Stay Healthy
                          In a study of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, washing hands halved the risk of getting diarrhea. Use these hygiene tips to keep your intestines bug-free.

                          >>Wash your hands after using the cathole and before meals.
                          >>Use soap and water or an antimicrobial hand sanitizer. Scrub well!
                          >>Pour gorp into hands; never dip.
                          >>Wash your dishes, pots, and utensils. They're more likely than your drinking water to be a breeding ground for bacteria.

                          Don't Drink Here
                          5 Places You Need To Treat

                          1.)Near beaverponds. In a 1990study, researchers found that 40 to 45 percent of beavers in Colorado carried giardia.

                          2.)Wilderness areas where livestock graze. Look for signs of cattle (cow pies, use trails, water stations), and ask local land managers if grazing is allowed.

                          3.)Lifeless spots. The absence of plants and/or aquatic bugs often means the water is tainted by heavy metal or other harmful agents.

                          4.)Sources near mines or factories. Pollutants from old and current operations can cause contamination.

                          5.)Where crowds gather. Be wary of high-use locations, like a lake or river valley with many campsites.

                          Is It Clean?
                          Use this checklist to help judge the quality of backcountry water.

                          [ ]Spring water is likely to be safe. The reason: Soil acts as a natural filter, removing organisms.

                          [ ]Solitude and good water often go together. The less human use of the area, the lower the risk of microbial contamination.

                          [ ]High elevation is better. The higher you climb, the less likely rivers and lakes will be contaminated by animals or people upstream.

                          [ ]High flow reduces risk. If other conditions are favorable, the more water there is, the more diluted any microbes will be. Beware the exception, below.

                          [ ]Runoff can increase pollution. In many areas, especially those with grazing animals, heavy rain or snowmelt can wash contaminents into waterways.

                          [ ]Spring can bring elevated levels of organisms. The increase is due to seasonal runoff and the birth of young animals, which can be susceptible to the microbes.

                          [ ]Melted snow is a good bet. If it's not fresh, scrape off the top layer and melt the clean stuff underneath.

                          [ ]Avoid stagnant water. In a small pond or pothole, microbes have a better chance of collecting in higher concentrations.

                          Giardia Intestinalis (formerly Lamblia)
                          Type of Organism: Protozoan
                          Infectious Dose: 10 - 25*
                          Symptoms: Diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps, nausea, foul-smelling stools. Symptoms usually appear 6 to 20 days after infection.
                          The Bad News: Giardia infects humans and many animals (including cats, dogs, beavers, muskrats, and cattle), and spreads in their feces. Individuals who get a bad case report it's a debilitating intestinal illness. Giardia causes an estimated 4,600 hospitalizations a year
                          The Good News: If you get it, your immune system will likely fight it off, although it can take up to six weeks. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for stubborn cases. And you can develop immunity. People who are exposed may be able to fight off the bug the next time without getting sick.

                          Cryptosporidia
                          Type of Organism: Protozoan
                          Infectios Dose: About 132*
                          Symptoms: Profuse and watery diarrhea, cramps, bloating, nausea, vomiting, fever. Symptoms usually appear 2 to 10 days after exposure.
                          The Bad News: Cryptosporidium infects many species of animals and birds, so there are plenty of ways it gets spread around. In one survey, cryptosporidium was present in 24 percent of backcountry water. The bug is highly resistant to most chemical disinfectants.
                          The Good News: Studies show crypto typically occurs in concentrations to low to make people sick. Most people recover from cryptosporidia infections on their own, although it may take a couple of weeks.

                          *Infectious dose refers to the approximate number of organisms required to cause illness in most healthy adults.

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                          • #14
                            Let me put the above in context in very simple terms.


                            ALWAYS either filter or boil or use purifying tablets on any water that comes from a stream, lake, pond, etc..

                            Remember, if you are at the stream, someone else has been too and they may have..... Well you know.....and upstream as well.

                            The water is either fine or it isn't.

                            If it isn't, you save yourself a lot of grief by purifying it.

                            If it is fine, you have exerted a small amount of energy for a large amount of confidence.

                            Seems to me like a no brainer!

                            Of course we do have people who hike who have no brains!
                            "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson

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                            • #15
                              Also...germophobes who have sterile systems are more prone to get sick when exposed to pathogens. Same reason why if we go to Mexico and drink the water we get sick while the natives don't

                              Does anyone know if we need to worry about mercury in the water. .And if so does the purifier filter it out?
                              “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” ~ Aldo Leopold

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