Water Sources - what would you trust?

SiWhite

Nomad
Apr 1, 2007
343
22
42
Deepest North Hampshire
I've been having something of a drive towards lightening my kit recently, in order to make my day walks more enjoyable and to encourage my learning with limited resources.

I recently bought a water filter (a Sawyer Mini) in order to allow the sourcing of water when out and about, instead of carrying a litre or two with me. I'd carry about a litre for cold drinking water and a cup of tea, and perhaps 500ml for a dehydrated meal or a boil in the bag.

I'd be interested in opinions about relatively safe water sources for the filter, bearing in mind I live in the South East, and not in the wilds of Sweden as I'd prefer! I'd probably steer clear of canals owing to the lack of flow and aeration, but where would I stand with using river water, ponds or lakes in rural areas? I did read an article about fish being a good indicator of safe water, but the article was possibly aimed at a less populated areas than mine.

I'm aware that my filter isn't designed to remove chemicals but is fairly good at most other nasties.
 

Mesquite

Anyone for sailing?
Mar 5, 2008
24,207
1,007
59
~Hemel Hempstead~
but where would I stand with using river water, ponds or lakes in rural areas?

That's the sort of water the Sawyer mini filter is designed for.

If it's thick green and looks really bad then perhaps give it a miss but most rivers in the south east should be ok
 

Leshy

Full Member
Jun 14, 2016
2,394
54
Wiltshire
http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1755393

The link above is my post from a similar discussion a while back .
My point being that , filtration and purification are two different methods with different results .
It's easy to get the 2 confused , so I'd recommend reading into it .

Lots of really good info on that thread.

As for a safe source ..
I would take the same precautions when choosing a water source , as you would if you were just boiling it.
I would prefer Rivers and streams over ponds or lakes .

Flowing water is best .

... check upstream for possible contaminants such as dead carcass etc.
I'm not sure about the Sawyer system , but the drinksafe™ systems remove ( SOME ) chemicals such as VOC's , farm run off and also trace metals .

I have a habit of checking the area I'm looking into for natural springs , you'd be surprised how much weight you save by just going from spring to spring or stream when out and about . The water coming from the aquifers is generally safe to drink without much fuss.

Hope it helps
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,643
McBride, BC
You can predict nutrient loads from the algae you see. The most familiar indicator is Spirogyra sp.
You will see this as hair-like masses attached to stones and sticks, gently waving in any flow or current.
Google to see lots of images of it's habit/appearance in situ.

Even boiling, you can't fix nitrate/phosphate/sulfate loads in water.
A dead animal carcass 5 miles upstream is too much. Yummy. Consumme', anyone?
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I would stear clear of any water downstreams from towns and cities. Also in farmland. Plus I would not want farms and houses close to the water course for a couple of miles.

Use a map.
I know, this makes most water out of bounds in southern UK.

I've been having something of a drive towards lightening my kit recently, in order to make my day walks more enjoyable and to encourage my learning with limited resources.

I recently bought a water filter (a Sawyer Mini) in order to allow the sourcing of water when out and about, instead of carrying a litre or two with me. I'd carry about a litre for cold drinking water and a cup of tea, and perhaps 500ml for a dehydrated meal or a boil in the bag.

I'd be interested in opinions about relatively safe water sources for the filter, bearing in mind I live in the South East, and not in the wilds of Sweden as I'd prefer! I'd probably steer clear of canals owing to the lack of flow and aeration, but where would I stand with using river water, ponds or lakes in rural areas? I did read an article about fish being a good indicator of safe water, but the article was possibly aimed at a less populated areas than mine.

I'm aware that my filter isn't designed to remove chemicals but is fairly good at most other nasties.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,643
McBride, BC
As you can imagine, there are rushing mountain melt-water streams and rivers all over my landscape.
I'd still want to filter out the (potential) lumps and boil it. Who's to know if some grizzly made an upstream deposit?
Beaver and Giardia is a serious issue here.

The most reliable are the springs where you can see the water coming up out of the ground.
Many along HWY 16 are marked, there's a pipe and a wide pull-out along the highway.
 

IC_Rafe

Forager
Feb 15, 2016
247
1
EU
I would stear clear of any water downstreams from towns and cities. Also in farmland. Plus I would not want farms and houses close to the water course for a couple of miles.

Use a map.
I know, this makes most water out of bounds in southern UK.

Agreed with this advice. I recently got the hiker pro filter (cheapest i could get for my purpose), just because it has a carbon filter. With that i trust most sources. Now for clean (no pesticides/chemicals) land, i would still use my care plus (sawyer rebranded for Belgium).
 

petrochemicals

Full Member
Jul 30, 2012
3,563
221
westmidlands
I would stear clear of any water downstreams from towns and cities. Also in farmland. Plus I would not want farms and houses close to the water course for a couple of miles.

Use a map.
I know, this makes most water out of bounds in southern UK.
Agreed with this advice. I recently got the hiker pro filter (cheapest i could get for my purpose), just because it has a carbon filter. With that i trust most sources. Now for clean (no pesticides/chemicals) land, i would still use my care plus (sawyer rebranded for Belgium).

Agreee with both.

Away from chemicals / habitation ie fast flowing streams that you can trace the course of boiling or other is ok.

Carbon filter is only good to reduce contaminants, so when filtering bear in mind a freshly sprayed field or an algee bloom may still do you damage, and hepatitis is a virus you can get from sewage. Avoid slow flowing rivers such as the Thames!
 

Jaeger

Full Member
Dec 3, 2014
670
18
United Kingdom
Aye Up,

Interesting comment that Petro - a large proportion of London's domestic H20 comes from non-tidal extraction from the Thames and depending on what part of the West Midlands you live in yours may come from the river Severn! :lmao:
 

Tonyuk

Settler
Nov 30, 2011
882
50
Scotland
I've used filters, smartprice bleach, puri-tabs and iodine with all types of sources and never been sick.

Out of them i prefer to use the bleach. I keep it in a mid size eyedrop bottle and use 4 drops per litre. This leaves it with a bit of a chlorine smell but not much of a taste. Cheap as chips too.

Best to pre-filter through a bag etc.. to get the twigs and that out, mines made from an old t-shirt. I've used a milbank bag a few times and they work well but are slow unless well soaked, and even then take a good while.

Tonyuk
 

Bishop

Full Member
Jan 25, 2014
1,574
522
Inside the wire, Llanelli
Suck up your fears and have faith :)
Though the general advice is to go for clear fast moving water when possible with the Sawyer then bogs and forestry drainage ditches (my personal favourite) can be equally safe sources. Just watch out for obvious signs of contamination such as sewage/phosphate foam or the rainbow shine of hydrocarbons.

PS There is also no shame in using a watering trough on your adventures in lowland areas.
 

petrochemicals

Full Member
Jul 30, 2012
3,563
221
westmidlands
Aye Up,

Interesting comment that Petro - a large proportion of London's domestic H20 comes from non-tidal extraction from the Thames and depending on what part of the West Midlands you live in yours may come from the river Severn! :lmao:

I presently come from Birmingham central so I bathe and flush my toilet in wonderful elan valley soft water, which makes bottled water obsolete. I often find filtering tap waterfrom places on my travels necesarry due to being unacustomed to lime. I unfortunately will be moving to somewhere with hard water soon, so ishall invest in a britta.

I've seen the process they use to do the river water, they are fairly complicated.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/aug/27/water.environment
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The water supplier we had in Mayfield ( Southern Water ?) some summers were sourced the raw water from Medway.

The quality of the tap water I have had in UK is awful compared to many countries, including here.
Copenhagen tap water used to be 80% purified sewage. Tasted very good. So does Tuborg and Carlsberg.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,643
McBride, BC
Thought I had a picture. Oh well. After a while, all snow capped mountains look the same.
When you fill the kettle at my kitchen sink, look across the valley, a little to the left. Maybe 5 miles at most.
Out village water comes out of the biggest of the 3 side valleys over there.

As usual right now, I can't see out, anyway.

 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,643
McBride, BC
Nah. The other dog house shows just around the corner, under the dining room balcony. The top of Beaver Mountain is on the horizon above that.

Couple of PB Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Tall? yes. Neither one can walk under a table.
100lb bird dogs who never learned to shake off outside. In the house or in the wagon/Burb is just right.

That's just 2 grape vines, heavily pruned, and growing a crop of 65lbs per vine.
Judging by the flower clusters and no late frosts, I should get the same this year.
The grapes are 1-2mm already, the bumble bees did a good job of pollination, despite all the rain.
 

Laurentius

Native
Aug 13, 2009
1,895
185
Knowhere
I was a bit disapointed after all the hype I have read about the Sawyer in the past to discover on purchasing one, that they do nothing to eliminate chemicals, so it is all a bit of a risk still. I have been thinking that maybe the way to go, albeit more complicated and expensive is to use two filters, one for the biological nasties, which the Sawyer seems for the most part capable of, and another for the chemical impurities. The question would be if you had two of them in line, which would you put first, the chemical filter or the biological one? I am thinking if you use the biological filter first you are getting out most of the particles that might make a chemical filter less efficient over time.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Laurentius, you might be correct there. But even the first filter could get clogged up.
I yhink a particle filter first would be a goid idea, something quite simple.

you could make one from a couple of Melitta filters.

Robson V, that is a lot of wine! Be careful of your liver!
 

PDA1

Settler
Feb 3, 2011
646
3
Framingham, MA USA
Some facts about water filtration.
Many, modern, ceramic tube based systems, include the Sawyer filters. There are two levels of Sawyer filter.
0.1 removes all bacteria and cysts. The mini costs about UKP 30 in the UK,which is outrageous compared with the US price($18)
the squeeze is a bit bigger and has a much higher flow rate,and takes out exactly the same contaminants UKP 50or so($25in US)
Sawyer also make a 0.02 micron filter, which in addition to bacteria and cysts, also takes out viruses. flow rate is slower,about a litre per minute,and the cost high UKP 131
($130 in US)
All last almost for ever provided you back flush regularly and don;t allow to freeze(ruptures the ceramic tubes if containing water).

They do not remove dissolved chemicals. To do that you need e.g. an activated charcoal filter. which will take out colour,odor, and,to a certain extent, heavy metals. the active charcoal is mounted on,usually, silica granules,contained in a barrel shape with an inlet at one end and outlet at the other. Possibly the most readily available at outdoors outfitters is the Platypus charcoal gravity element,about$20 in the US.Not sure if available in the UK,but there are other brands. placed in line after the ceramic tube filter (Sawyer) it will make the water look and taste a bit better, and will remove some heavy metals. Not all, because active charcoal works by having the metal ion coming into direct contact with an active charcoal site and being adsorbed (a type of soft chemical bond). Once all(really most) of the sites are occupied, the filter becomes worthless and must be replaced. The problem is that the chamber is so small,compared with the volume of water passing through,that most of the water containing the heavy metal ions does not come into contact with the active sites, so the percentage removed is rather small. If you had an excess of active charcoal powder in a bucket of water, and stirred it for a while(1/2 hour?) there will be high contact, and depending on the metal ion, 60-85% will be removed. I have found no data for the percentage removed by small inline filters like the Platypus or Brita but it won;t be all that high.

Note that the ceramic tube type filters,like the Sawyers, plus similar types now available from Katadyn, MSR etc. really do takeout 100%(OK, 99.9999%) of the contaminants for which they are designed (bacteria for the 0.1, and bacteria plus viruses in the 0.02 types
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,643
McBride, BC
There's other rows of vines out of sight to the left in that old picture.
These first (2001) vines are mainly to shade the house in the summer.

I used to steam-extract a lot of these grapes, usually make 30-40 liters of juice. Nice jelly and syrup at 2X strong.
There's a guy in the district with a lot of digestive "challenges" and he can tolerate the grape juice just fine.
So I barter 12 liter cases of juice.
These past few years, I just want the grapes picked off before the fall bird migration.
I don't care about the grapes any more, I can barter the crop for garden vegetables which I will enjoy.

Must admit, many has been the day when the liquid intake from the ripe grapes is a refreshing substitute for water.
If you have a spot in the forest with a clearing, consider planting some vines for liquid. I'm serious. You could do worse!

30 x 36lb cases of California Zinfandel through my power crusher into 2 x 45gal primaries made 450 lites of yummy wine.
In that day and time, $0.75/liter for 3 man-days of work.