underground water.. SAFE TO DRINK?

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TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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I don't think I can add much to the answers given. Just a slightly tangential thought. Can people develop a degree of resistance to water borne pathogens that they are regularly exposed to? You know...locals say the water is fine, they drink it all the time...tourist drinks it, gets sick?

I echo this thinking - depends on how tempered ones biological system is to nasties.

I was raised on a farm with a Windmill pumping water into the house - no filtration system that I am aware of.

Anyway , one time the water went 'murky' for a while the water went 'murky' in colour for a bit - we carried on drinking it.
Upon inspection later we found a Hedgehog corpse that had decided to somehow get lodged in the pipe and died. Body acting like a dirty filter..

I don't remember being sick.
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Speaking about "the locals," to me that implies that they have a common water resource to share.
Dear tourist was probably predisposed to the onset of some illness. I'd think the food to be more suspect.

I caution you not to drink the water from any little mountain trickle in my district.
Too many unknowns about open water sources.
Who knows which animals have crapped in/near it upstream. Who peed in the creek?
Some regions are alpine grazing leases, used for cattle in the summers.
The cattle drives ought to be on now to bring them down, been snowing like Hello up top.
The usual horses, cowboys and dogs.

Case in point: You field dress an animal after a hunt.
No, you do not rinse off the carcass with local water. Snow, maybe.
There is no known way to sour a kill faster than to wash it off.
Wipe things down with big handfuls of grass. Do the clean-up at home.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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My parents house was fed from a well; we regularly had bits of 'newt' come out of the tap - no-one was ill :)

The clear example of people 'getting used to' bacterial content is in milk - drinking milk in Africa or India (even a bit in your coffee) is a sure way to get the trots but the locals drink it all the time.
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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Bedfordshire
Thanks. I was thinking if it were the case, that it would be good to bear in mind when anyone says that this or that source is or should be safe...based on their drinking from such a thing for years.

RV,
I have heard stories about tourists getting sick from tap water in the 3rd world, or from ice in drinks, or a scam selling "bottled" water to visitors when at best its tap water with no extra treatment.
I also know of someone who drank from jungle streams in Borneo for a number of days with no apparent ill effect, while using Piriton as a water treatment. :rolleyes3: (EDIT 25-09-20. to be clear, I relate this not as a recommendation, suggestion, or comment that we take purification too seriously, rather I mention it as an illustration that some people lead charmed lives and can make foolish choices and take risks and somehow escape serious consequences.)

Speaking of which, there was a Bear Grylls episode where he was in the jungle, drank from a little stream after going into detail about how clean it was due to clarity and presence of pond skaters, then was significantly sick all night!
 
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Bishop

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Jan 25, 2014
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Inside the wire, Llanelli
It's a bit beyond what I would call "bushcraft" but you could go old-school science fair and take a look at the water for life using a quality microscope then see if anything grows in a petri dish. Identifying exactly what's wriggling or growing however would be a whole new level of difficultly but the books are out there.
 

gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
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Kent
It's a bit beyond what I would call "bushcraft" but you could go old-school science fair and take a look at the water for life using a quality microscope then see if anything grows in a petri dish. Identifying exactly what's wriggling or growing however would be a whole new level of difficultly but the books are out there.
There are a number of indices to identify water quality using aquatic invertebrates, this is not full proof and I have experience in all of them. The trick is when using biological indicators is the balance of range of species.

For example, if you have a body of water, that is clear and has lots stonefly, most indices say the water in clear of pollutants.....big warning sign, why is everything else not there....answer stonefly's tolerate arsenic and heavy metal pollution, this is seen around old quarries.

My favourite of all the indices, is BMWP Scoring - Measurement of Freshwater Quality. This takes into account primarily biological indicators to identify organic pollution in the environment.

I designed an amendment to the indices to accommodate habitats outside of Wales :), but cannot find the published site to reference, and authored that over 20 years ago so unlikely to have the document to hand.

Here is a wiki link

.
 
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Sep 8, 2020
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There is no easy yes or no, I am a trained hydrochemist / eco hydrogeologist and there are so many issues to consider, such as fissure flow from a pollution source, sometimes up to 30 miles away, naturally occuring biofouling nearby, etc.

I would allow to settle, filter and boil always when there are any questions of unknowns.

Even when a water source is tested and known to be clean, chlorine is still added, as water quality can change day by day, and even hour by hour.

My job is keeping water clean (potable) for millions of people, so know a few things about water :)
wow, so u are such an expert! I will for sure listen to ur words =)
 

Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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So filter and boil, or treat with water purifying tablets before drinking seems to be the ideal unless you can get the water tested.

Just one thought.. how do you get water tested in a survival situation?

All areas have different and specific things to think about. I think you said there was a mountain behind you? Are there any livestock above you?
Is there any habitation above you? Where does the water come from? Can you dowse ? Maps can tell you a lot of info and will often show details of water sources.
Which country you are in makes a difference too.
My reaction is keep it simple...
Filter
Boil
Make a cover for your well.

I have drunk water comming straight from the ground on many occasions in the uk and never had a problem. Just made sure it was boiled properly. But then I knew the areas extremely well.
It would be helpful to know which country you are in as specific advice for say India or sweden or France might be slightly different.
 
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santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
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I don't think I can add much to the answers given. Just a slightly tangential thought. Can people develop a degree of resistance to water borne pathogens that they are regularly exposed to? You know...locals say the water is fine, they drink it all the time...tourist drinks it, gets sick? ........
^^^^This^^^^ Absolutely true.

Regarding personal wells (y’all call them boreholes) I grew up with them as well as artesian wells, and with the old fashioned dug well with a cylindrical bucket to draw the water. Nobody ever had any of them tested nor treated the water.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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^^^^This^^^^ Absolutely true.

Regarding personal wells (y’all call them boreholes) I grew up with them as well as artesian wells, and with the old fashioned dug well with a cylindrical bucket to draw the water. Nobody ever had any of them tested nor treated the water.

No, we call wells wells and boreholes boreholes :)

Our borehole is only about 8" diameter bore IIRC - big enough for the pump to be lowered into, and 300 feet deep. It was drilled out. The well up the road that I have extraction rights for is about 36" diameter and was dug by hand a long time ago and water rises to within a few feet of the top.
 

TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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No, we call wells wells and boreholes boreholes :)

Our borehole is only about 8" diameter bore IIRC - big enough for the pump to be lowered into, and 300 feet deep. It was drilled out. The well up the road that I have extraction rights for is about 36" diameter and was dug by hand a long time ago and water rises to within a few feet of the top.


Pussy Cat want some Milk??

:)
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Apologies, did that come over as being catty? it wasn't meant to be; I was just trying to be clear about what is called a well and a borehole in the UK.

Sorry Santaman!
 
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Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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Thanks. I was thinking if it were the case, that it would be good to bear in mind when anyone says that this or that source is or should be safe...based on their drinking from such a thing for years.

RV,
I have heard stories about tourists getting sick from tap water in the 3rd world, or from ice in drinks, or a scam selling "bottled" water to visitors when at best its tap water with no extra treatment.
I also know of someone who drank from jungle streams in Borneo for a number of days with no apparent ill effect, while using Piriton as a water treatment. :rolleyes3: Speaking of which, there was a Bear Grylls episode where he was in the jungle, drank from a little stream after going into detail about how clean it was due to clarity and presence of pond skaters, then was significantly sick all night!

Chris, Piriton is for allergies. Do you mean Puritan? Under the circumstances it needs to be right.

I got well sick in Thailand having been sold tap water in a properly resealed pure water bottle.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Single testimonials will never make the general case for me.
You drink the water (untested) and I'll watch.
Hope you have no expectation of me hauling your sorry sick butt out of the woods.

Thousands and thousands of years ago, early europeans were carving and installing oak cribs in their wells.
I suspect that the locations were a matter of finding "good" water.
That was still an unknown for the village well, before Pasteur's time.
 
Sep 8, 2020
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Thank u so much everybody for the answers, very very interesting, so at the end what I'm going to do is either test it or at least boil it before consume, even if I understand that is still potentially dangerous for the possibility of heavy metals.
 
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Sep 8, 2020
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I forgot to mention that I found old roof tiles (like the ones in the picture) when I was digging, forming some kind of old canal starting from the point where the water is coming out of the mountain, so I'm guessing someone was using this water already in the past. If u see in the video u can see I used one to collect the water.

 
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Tengu

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Jan 10, 2006
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Ah, so someone found the spring previously. (its a natural outburst rather than a dug thing? Though in many places what isa spring will be marked `Well` meaning its probably been given an artificial basin.)

As I suspected.

Have you got a local map?

In GB we have several good mapping systems you can zoom in right tight; have you examined those yet?

(On the GB map a spring will be marked `Rises`)
 
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C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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Chris, Piriton is for allergies. Do you mean Puritan? Under the circumstances it needs to be right.

I got well sick in Thailand having been sold tap water in a properly resealed pure water bottle.
I know what Piriton is for, but apparently that chap didn't! :doh: That was why it was remarkable! I have not heard of Puritan for water treatment. I assumed the guy thought his Piriton was the same as Puritab, they both start with P and have R as the third letter, after all ;) As you say, important to have the right stuff...and not use a random pack of pills found in the shared accommodation!

Sorry to hear you got sick on the bottled water deal. :( That is why, as I understand it, it is better to drink fizzy stuff, it is much harder to fake with dodgy water.
 

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