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Permaculture water purification (potable water)  RSS feed

 
Ryan Mitchell
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Location: Charlotte, NC
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Hello all I have been trying to come up with a way to purify water for drinking that would be done in a permaculture way. So I am looking for solutions to make water potable, not just grey water. Part of the criteria I have for this is that I wouldn't need to purchase replacement parts (filters or chemicals) and ideally not require electrical power. With peak oil the ability to get things like filters and bulbs etc are shaky at best. Something with 10-50 gallons a day production capacity would be ideal for the individual or family for consumption, cooking, bathing, etc.

I have explored a few options

-Biosand or Slow Sand Filters seem the closets option, but they do not really take care of most Viruses and are only 90% effective with bacteria
-Solar water distillers are great, but have a really low flow rate: 5 gallon production needs about 200 square feet surface area in the cool season
-Wells can become contaminated, can run dry, are costly and most often require power.
-Rain catchments often mean dealing with unwanted heavy metals from roofing materials
-UV treatment is a very effective way, but what happens with the power goes out or when the bulb breaks
-Ceramic filters are highly effective (such as Berkey water filters) but I don't like the idea of relying on needing to order filter after filter, what if one day when oil runs out, no more filters from China
-Chemical treatments - highly effective but bring in questions of what those chemicals do to your body and you have to buy them


How are people tackling the potable water issue from a permaculture lens?
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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I would do a nice, solid greywater treatment with reed beds and hungry floating aquatics like Lemna species, et cetera, followed by a slow sand filter for potable water.

90% on bacteria seems pretty good to me. what viruses are you concerned about?
 
Milo Jones
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It all depends on YOUR permaculture site Ryan. When you get there the answer will usually present itself.
 
Ryan Mitchell
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Location: Charlotte, NC
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tel jetson wrote:I would do a nice, solid greywater treatment with reed beds and hungry floating aquatics like Lemna species, et cetera, followed by a slow sand filter for potable water.

90% on bacteria seems pretty good to me. what viruses are you concerned about?


90% effectiveness against E.coli, coliform and cholera is too big of risk. Since it doesn't really have any effectiveness against viruses, it would be pretty crazy. There have been quite a few documented cases in the US of ground water contamination with viruses and some serious ones, Hepititus A and Giardia will not kill you if you're healthy, but you will be seriously sick up to 6 months, excluding you from working. If one of your chickens or other animals (wild or domesticated) where to poop somewhere along the process, you could easily introduce giardia.


From the CDC Website about well water in the US:

The Top 5 Causes of Waterborne Outbreaks in Private Groundwater Wells

1. Hepatitis A (CDC, CDC-Water)
2. Giardia intestinalis (CDC, CDC-Water)
3. Shigella spp. (CDC, CDC-Water)
4. E. coli 0157:H7 (CDC, CDC-Water, EPAExternal Web Site Icon)
Tied for 5th:
Campylobacter jejuni (CDC, CDC-Water) and
Salmonella serotype Typhimurium (CDC, CDC-Water)

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/diseases.html
 
Ryan Mitchell
Posts: 38
Location: Charlotte, NC
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For those who are also interested in this topic:

I found some information over at Appropedia here: http://www.appropedia.org/Appropriate_technologies under the water section. Expands on some of what I have said, but still looking for that magic bullet if there is one?

Water supply and treatment

As of 2006, waterborne diseases are estimated to cause 1.8 million deaths each year while about 1.1 billion people lack proper drinking water.[25]

Water generally needs treatment before use, depending on the source and the intended use (with high standards required for drinking water). The quality of water from household connections and community water points in low-income countries is not reliably safe for direct human consumption. Water extracted directly from surface waters and open hand-dug shallow wells nearly always requires treatment.

Appropriate technology options in water treatment include both community-scale and household-scale point-of-use (POU) designs.

The most reliable way to kill microbial pathogenic agents is to heat water to a rolling boil.[26] Other techniques, such as varying forms of filtration, chemical disinfection, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation (including solar UV) have been demonstrated in an array of randomized control trials to significantly reduce levels of waterborne disease among users in low-income countries.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of field-based studies have been undertaken to determine the success of POU measures in reducing waterborne disease. The ability of POU options to reduce disease is a function of both their ability to remove microbial pathogens if properly applied and such social factors as ease of use and cultural appropriateness. Technologies may generate more (or less) health benefit than their lab-based microbial removal performance would suggest.

The current priority of the proponents of POU treatment is to reach large numbers of low-income households on a sustainable basis. Few POU measures have reached significant scale thus far, but efforts to promote and commercially distribute these products to the world's poor have only been under way for a few years.

On the other hand, small-scale water treatment is reaching increasing fractions of the population in low-income countries, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, in the form of water treatment kiosks (also known as water refill stations or packaged water producers). While quality control and quality assurance in such locations may be variable, sophisticated technology (such as multi-stage particle filtration, UV irradiation, ozonation, and membrane filtration) is applied with increasing frequency. Such microenterprises are able to vend water at extremely low prices, with increasing government regulation. Initial assessments of vended water quality are encouraging.

Whether applied at the household or community level, some examples of specific treatment processes include:

Porous ceramic filtration, using either clay or diatomaceous earth, and oriented as either cylinder, pot, or disk, with gravity-fed or siphon-driven delivery systems. Silver is frequently added to provide antimicrobial enhancement
Intermittently operated slow-sand filtration, also known as biosand filtration
Chlorine disinfection, employing calcium hypochlorite powder, sodium hypochlorite solution, or sodium dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC) tablets
Chemical flocculationW, using either commercially produced iron or aluminum salts or the crushed seeds of certain plants, such as Moringa oleifera
Mixed flocculation/disinfection using commercially produced powdered mixtures
Irradiation with ultraviolet light, whether using electric-powered lamps or direct solar exposure
membrane filtration, employing ultrafiltrationW or reverse osmosis filter elements preceded by pretreatment

Some appropriate technology water supply measures include:

Deep wells with submersible pumpsW in areas where the groundwater (aquifers) are located at depths >10 m.
Shallow wellsW with lined walls and covers.
rainwater harvesting systems with an appropriate method of storage, especially in areas with significant dry seasons.
Fog collection, which is suitable for areas which experience fog even when there is little rain.
Air wellW, a structure or device designed to promote the condensation of atmospheric moisture.

Handpumps and treadle pumps are generally only an option in areas is located at a relatively shallow depth (e.g. 10 m). The Flexi-Pipe Pump is a notable exception to this (upto 25 meter). For most deeper aquifers (<10 m), submersible pumps placed inside a well) are used. Treadle pumps for household irrigation are now being distributed on a widespread basis in developing countries. The principle of Village Level Operation and MaintenanceW is important with handpumps, but may be difficult in application.

Condensation bagsW and condensation pits can be an appropriate technology to get water, yet yields are low and are (for the amount of water obtained), labour intensive. Still, it may be a good (very cheap) solution for certain desperate communities.

The hippo water rollerW and Q-drum allow more water to be carried, with less effort and could thus be a good alternative for ethnic communities who do not wish to give up water gathering from remote locations, assuming low topographic relief.

The roundabout playpumpW, developed and used in southern Africa, harnesses the energy of children at play to pump water.
 
Milo Jones
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Ryan, what is your water issue?

Yes, the whole world has water quality issues, but it is site specific. What are the problems with your site?
 
Ryan Mitchell
Posts: 38
Location: Charlotte, NC
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Milo Jones wrote:Ryan, what is your water issue?

Yes, the whole world has water quality issues, but it is site specific. What are the problems with your site?


I am looking for a way to purify water for drinking and cooking around 10-50 gallons a day so it is safe. I am still shopping for a 20-30 acre site right now, but there is a chance that I will be in farm country with potential chemical seepage and possible livestock manures entering the water ways. Even in the best of locations you could face issues, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I would like to avoid filters and chemicals because of their impacts on the environment (waste after use, impacts of manufacturing, etc). I know I can boil water, but that will not get rid of chemical compounds and if you have ever canned, you know how long it takes for large quantities of water to start boiling.
 
Milo Jones
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Avoid taking your water from the municipal waste stream, that will eliminate most of the pharmaceuticals and chemicals. Hep A, Giardia, Shigella, and E. Coli can be killed by heat, if you choose to take your water from sources that might harbor those things. I think you are over-thinking it. Unless you are drinking from a sewer today, I doubt you will consider it in the future.
 
Milo Jones
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If you are buying property avoid drilling your own well. You might get lazy with the perfectly good water at 40' or 50' feet and call it quits. Hire a professional well driller who wants to go down 200' or 300' to reach water. That water has been there for thousands of years and is just as good.
 
Joe Braxton
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Location: NC (northern piedmont)
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Wood fired still? Distill water and "other" value added products with the same equipment. Now, that's value for the buck.......
 
Milo Jones
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Don't overthink it before you get there. Once you get there the path will be easy.
 
Shawn Harper
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Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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I could be under thinking this but couldn't you just boil the water you need for cooking and drinking?
 
chris cromeens
Posts: 63
Location: north texas 7b now 8a
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rocket stove distiller, bet w/ a lil adjustment you could distill more than water
 
Sara Harding
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Here are a couple things a quick search brought up of some methods I remember reading about awhile ago.

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002738.html

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/11/non-profit-offers-solution-to-waterborne-disease/#.UEQNW42PWTZ
 
Milo Jones
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A quote from the second article Sara posted:
the water the children shared with the local cattle contained 14,000 E. coli bacteria per 100 ml.

The easy way around that is to avoid getting your drinking water from pools your cattle stand in.
Once you identify the well, stream, or rainwater catchment as your water source the solutions available will be much easier to identify.
 
Matt Baker
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Just looked at the Abundant Water website. Their clay pot filters "filter all particles and microorganisms larger than one micron. This includes silt, bacteria, protozoa and ameba. It is unable to filter viruses, salt or chemicals, such as arsenic, but is able to filter all bacteria which cause a majority of water-borne diseases." Seems pretty good. If you could get a source of water without viruses or chemicals, and you knew how to make your own pots, then you would be good indefinitely.
 
Kris Minto
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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The only way to mostly guaranty your water does not contain bacteria or virus is to boil it or use modern technologies (chemical or filters). When I go canoe camping, I get my water from a moving source (creek or river) and boil it. I have never gotten sick in the 25 years I have been doing that.
 
Geoff Lawton
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Hi Matt
rain water catchment off a roof works fine with clay tiles or metal roof. If you are worried about metals in water that only happens if your pH is really acid 4.5 or lower (very low) through HEAVY industry down wind and can be easy to correct by putting a lump of limestone rock in your water tank. Screen your in take to your tank to prevent mosquito and screen your roof gutters if you live under trees, let a little sun light in through your in take screened hole so you get some algae growth on the inside of the tank which acts as a bio-film taking out minor organic pollutants. This works fine worldwide
Enjoy the best water in the world, ask anyone who lives in rural Australia.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Thanks Geoff, I will do this for the mosquito and stop think how I was going to stop the little green algae i have!

Do you know something about the flocculant (like moringa crushed seeds) and if they work for bacterias, or only to get it clear for macro-elements?
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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As others have suggested, start with rainwater and store it in a large, dark cistern. If you are really concerned about virus contamination for your drinking water (cooking water will likely be boiled anyway...), a two step process through a slow sand filter then a ceramic filter should give you what you need. The ceramic filters are great if you are starting with water that is already low in impurities. The activated charcoal stops being useful after the first several hundred gallons or so, IMO, but the pore size will work as a filter indefinitely. Keep the filter system in a cool dark spot and it will clog even more slowly. A simple scrub of the outside of the filter get the flow rate back up again.

I like these filters:
http://shop.monolithic.com/products/just-water-ceramic-drip-filter

I change them out every 4-6 months to get the benefit of the activated charcoal on the taste of the water (currently using well water...can't wait til the rain-catch system is up and functional), but I keep the old filters for future use, if needed.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Kay, Ryan mentioned ceramic filters with a "but"...
Ryan Mitchell wrote:-Ceramic filters are highly effective (such as Berkey water filters) but I don't like the idea of relying on needing to order filter after filter, what if one day when oil runs out, no more filters from China


Do these filters work with only the ceramic, without having to use the carbon?
Is it possible to make ones own carbon?

A ceramic filter that can be cleaned and used for long if not forever, would be so great!
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Once the activated charcoal is "used up", I don't believe that it will remove mineral impurities, but the filtration based on the ceramic pore size should continue to work until it is permanently clogged. It does all depend on what you are trying to filter out.

I think the prefilter approach with the slow-sand (most designs include a thick charcoal layer) to remove large particles, followed by a ceramic filter should be sufficient for many years of use... especially if you have multiple filters on hand. The ones I linked are pretty inexpensive.

There are some threads on permies, I believe for making your own activated charcoal. A google search will give a lot of hits.
 
Paul Cereghino
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CAWST has good resources on a variety of water sanitation topics including well tested designs for Biosand. Some of their research suggests 98.5% bacterial reduction. Wouldn't rainwater be best?
http://www.cawst.org/en/resources/pubs
 
Gord Baird
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Location: Victoria BC
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Hi Matt,
I agree with Geoff... rainwater collection with some appropriate design. For potable water I teach that you want to avoid certain materials from the collection and conveyance areas. The roof, clay, metal, living roof (with design and storage considerations), are fine... Be wary of roofing materials with Fire retardants and moss treatments (Asphalt and cedar), as you won't be able to easily filter this out. Choose your choice of debris and first flush filter... we make our own for our 10000 gallon system (off our living roofs). Once you enter the tank, like Geoff says - keep the critters out. When the water comes into the tank, you can "calm" it so it does not disturb the important biolfilm that develops on the bottom of the tank. For your overflow... again keep the critters out using a P-trap before it exits the tank. When you pull water out, suspend the intake pipe inches below the top of the water so you pull the cleanest water. If your tank is really large and water won't turn over often, then a little solar aerator will be a huge benefit.

This site will have a very good Rainwater Harvestin Manual posted by late Oct. 2012 http://www.rdn.bc.ca
The Virginia Rainwater Harvesting Manual has some great info... just simplify the fancy crap with simple stuff http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/documents/stmrainharv.pdf
Gord
 
Michael Jacobsen
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Location: West Virginia, USA
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So you said you've looked at slow-sand biofilters. Have you considered coupling them with colloidal silver impregnated stones? What you do is build your biofilter, but on the first couple layers, where the rocks are larger, all the way up to the layer just before the final one, you soak the rocks/gravel/coarse sand in colloidal silver and let it sun dry. This binds the tiny silver particles to the rocks and should have the same effect as the colloidal silver impregnated terracota pots. Colloidal silver is pretty easy to make yourself and is a fantastic anti-bacterial and anti-viral provided you can get the bacteria or virii to touch the silver particles.
 
Mike Wong
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Location: Southwest UK, Maritime Temperate climate, Zone 9, AHS Heat Zone 1
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Have you looked into mycofiltration?
 
Mick Fisch
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Don't reinvent the wheel. Use a rain barrel or cistern.

When I was a teenager the well that supplied our govt. housing was theoretically drinkable, but was actually fizzy with methane and sulpher dioxide (we were actually told to allow no open flames near the sink). The water tasted so foul that everyone used rain barrels off of our aluminum roofs.

The method we used was to keep the rain barrel covered with a close fitting lid under the down spout that drained the entire roof until it started raining. We let it rain a few minutes to wash off the roof and then whoever lost the coin toss ran out in the rain and pulled off the cover. This was the method all the neighbors used also.

In the winter we pulled the water barrel into the mud room to keep the water from freezing. The house had a hot roof so in the winter we would get big icicles hanging down. My mom would periodically have us go out and break off icicles with baseball bats and pile them into the water barrel for winter water. I wouldn't have believed that would provide enough drinking water because we didn't get that much snow in the winter, but it did, easily. We made it a contest, who could knock down the biggest icicles, who could knock down the most, etc. We generally had the barrel filled before we were ready to quit. We'd pile the icicles on a sled as we moved around the house.

We got around 15 inches of precipitation a year, mostly in the summer and were never even close to short of water. We used the foul well water for everything but drinking and cooking. We figured questionable water would wash clothes or bodies and flush toilets. There were 8 people and a dog and cat in our household. We had at most 1000 square foot roof, probably less. (It was a 1 1/2 story). We never had any algae problems, although our water was usually cool and in the dark. My mom may have washed the barrel occasionally, I don't remember, but that's the kind of thing she would have done.

What I do remember is really exceptionally good tasting water, much better than any tap water (except maybe Olympia Washington, which really does have very good water, or did back in the mid 80's when we lived there).

One inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof yields 623 gallons of pure water. That works out to over 20 gallons a day for drinking and cooking. We were in central Alaska, so we didn't have the long dry spells oer heat or evaporation problems that some people in extreme deserts might face. If you face long dry spells, you might need greater storage capacity, to store up what does fall.

If I were concerned about the water quality I wouldn't hesitate to use rainwater unless there were a pretty severe local problem that I can't foresee. Even industrial strength heavy air pollution would mostly wash out of the air within the first few minutes of a decent rain.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Mick Fisch wrote:Don't reinvent the wheel. Use a rain barrel or cistern.

When I was a teenager the well that supplied our govt. housing was theoretically drinkable, but was actually fizzy with methane and sulpher dioxide (we were actually told to allow no open flames near the sink). The water tasted so foul that everyone used rain barrels off of our aluminum roofs.

The method we used was to keep the rain barrel covered with a close fitting lid under the down spout that drained the entire roof until it started raining. We let it rain a few minutes to wash off the roof and then whoever lost the coin toss ran out in the rain and pulled off the cover. This was the method all the neighbors used also.

In the winter we pulled the water barrel into the mud room to keep the water from freezing. The house had a hot roof so in the winter we would get big icicles hanging down. My mom would periodically have us go out and break off icicles with baseball bats and pile them into the water barrel for winter water. I wouldn't have believed that would provide enough drinking water because we didn't get that much snow in the winter, but it did, easily. We made it a contest, who could knock down the biggest icicles, who could knock down the most, etc. We generally had the barrel filled before we were ready to quit. We'd pile the icicles on a sled as we moved around the house.

We got around 15 inches of precipitation a year, mostly in the summer and were never even close to short of water. We used the foul well water for everything but drinking and cooking. We figured questionable water would wash clothes or bodies and flush toilets. There were 8 people and a dog and cat in our household. We had at most 1000 square foot roof, probably less. (It was a 1 1/2 story). We never had any algae problems, although our water was usually cool and in the dark. My mom may have washed the barrel occasionally, I don't remember, but that's the kind of thing she would have done.

What I do remember is really exceptionally good tasting water, much better than any tap water (except maybe Olympia Washington, which really does have very good water, or did back in the mid 80's when we lived there).

One inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof yields 623 gallons of pure water. That works out to over 20 gallons a day for drinking and cooking. We were in central Alaska, so we didn't have the long dry spells oer heat or evaporation problems that some people in extreme deserts might face. If you face long dry spells, you might need greater storage capacity, to store up what does fall.

If I were concerned about the water quality I wouldn't hesitate to use rainwater unless there were a pretty severe local problem that I can't foresee. Even industrial strength heavy air pollution would mostly wash out of the air within the first few minutes of a decent rain.


you need a pretty big, and seemingly non-portable barrel for 623 gallons per inch of rainfall!

I do this 'capture the rain and icecicles' for my goats and checkens winter water. I keep a 50 gallon barrel by their waterer, put the buckets of water from the roof into the barrel, it is the closest source of water.
 
Jamie Chevalier
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Hi--I raised three kids in a remote cabin in the Southeast Alaska rainforest, with no electricity and no source of safe groundwater, such as a deep well. We drank from small surface streams and used rainwater catchments for dishwashing, etc. Where we lived, the water table was pretty much at the surface, with the whole area borderline wetland. We learned a lot over the 28 years we were there:

1) Giardia is very easy to get and very hard to get rid of. It is as noted above, financially crippling even if it doesnt kill you. Also, the constant diarhea can de-mineralize you to such an extent that you break bones and get malnutrition problems. I knew a 20-year-old who broke her hip after a year of it. We had giardia three times, and ramped up our safety measures after each until we had a system that worked. Using questionable water for dishes and letting them dry thoroughly does not prevent you from ingesting encysted giarda organisms, believe me.
2)Rainwater is not safe from contamination, as some of the most pernicious and hard-to-diagnose parasites are from birds. Again, we have a personal friend whose lost years of her life this way. Also, in a cool climate, most roof catchments are too polluted with smoke from wood stoves.
3)Slow sand filters do not work in cold climates--you have to have enough heat for the bacteria to function well, or their metabolisms just cant rev up. Check out the soil where you live--if it is a peaty, fungal-based soil without much bacterial life, then you wont be able to count on water-based bacteria either.
4) In places that are too cool for bacteria, you are often running a woodstove. Ours had a 5-gallon stainless stockpot on top at all times. The water inside eventually boiled and was set out to cool--we didnt heat up the stove just to make it boil quickly. In addition, the thermal inertia from 5 or 6 gallons of water was as significant in our 15x20' cabin as a damped-down stove would be, so we let the stove go out at night, saving ourselves a lot of wood, creosote build-up, and headaches. The stovetope also carried a constant assortment of 4 or 5 teakettles, from the large cast-aluminum one we used to boil the smoky-tasitng dishwater from the rain barrel to the small ones that were always ready for a hot drink. When I was using the stove to cook and the kettles came to a rolling boil, I would empty each of them into a big pot to cool and refill from a bucket of streamwater kept behind the stove so that they could boil again while the stove was hot.. Then when the stove was coasting, we had hot water already boiled and ready to use.

We never plumbed in running water, to eliminate accidental ingestion and to limit the volume used. In our climate, boiling water with the heat of a woodstove that was on 340 days a year anyway was the best option. My husband's stove design had an oven, cooked our food, boiled our water, and used less than 2 cords of wood a year. For us, that was the permaculture solution.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 567
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Sometimes the solution is not creating the problem in the first place.
Geoff Lawton wrote:Hi Matt
rain water catchment off a roof works fine with clay tiles or metal roof. If you are worried about metals in water that only happens if your pH is really acid 4.5 or lower (very low) through HEAVY industry down wind and can be easy to correct by putting a lump of limestone rock in your water tank. Screen your in take to your tank to prevent mosquito and screen your roof gutters if you live under trees, let a little sun light in through your in take screened hole so you get some algae growth on the inside of the tank which acts as a bio-film taking out minor organic pollutants. This works fine worldwide
Enjoy the best water in the world, ask anyone who lives in rural Australia.
 
Mick Fisch
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you need a pretty big, and seemingly non-portable barrel for 623 gallons per inch of rainfall!


We got some rain pretty frequently so we just used a brand new big plastic trash can (rubbermaid type) I would guess about 40 gallons. Yes, if you have big gaps in your rainfall, you need something larger, probably a cistern, although you could probably use several of those big 240 gallon containers tied together. Make sure you know what they were used for. Some industrial uses of those containers make them unsuitable for potable water (in my mind anyway).

My wife got giardia once. We had just a new baby and she was carrying quite a bit of baby fat on her when the giardia hit. A week or two later she was a bag of bones with no feminine curves at all. I know, for some fighting the battle of the bulge that might seem an ok thing. It wasn't. We got medication and got rid of it fairly quickly, or maybe she had a light case because it only lasted a couple of weeks, but it was definitely something you want to avoid. If we had been in a remote area with no access to the right meds, it may well have been a killer.
 
ronie dee
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Location: NW MO
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To purify water from chemicals and pathogens requires distillation. Boiling water will kill pathogens, but will not remove chemicals. Chemicals that have an evaporation temp lower than water will be harder to remove. I guess you could openly heat the water to near boiling then put a cap on and distill. A well or cistern should get you water that you can have for most uses. Maybe use distillation just for drinking water.

If you can figure out how to economically purify water let me know. With all the crazy things that the modern world has put into the food/water cycle, drinking water with some chemicals in it is almost certain. The municipal water has a lot more chemicals in it than the water you might get from a single farmer upstream from you. The city water company settles solids out of water then poisons the water to kill pathogens. Guess who gets the poison next?
 
Bobby Clark Jr
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Location: Lamar County Mississippi
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Kay Bee wrote:As others have suggested, start with rainwater and store it in a large, dark cistern. If you are really concerned about virus contamination for your drinking water (cooking water will likely be boiled anyway...), a two step process through a slow sand filter then a ceramic filter should give you what you need. The ceramic filters are great if you are starting with water that is already low in impurities. The activated charcoal stops being useful after the first several hundred gallons or so, IMO, but the pore size will work as a filter indefinitely. Keep the filter system in a cool dark spot and it will clog even more slowly. A simple scrub of the outside of the filter get the flow rate back up again.

I like these filters:
http://shop.monolithic.com/products/just-water-ceramic-drip-filter

I change them out every 4-6 months to get the benefit of the activated charcoal on the taste of the water (currently using well water...can't wait til the rain-catch system is up and functional), but I keep the old filters for future use, if needed.


I just ordered one of the just water filters from Monolithic today. Ordered at 12:15 pm, at 3:03 pm got a message saying my shipment was on the way! Fastest company I ever dealt with! My springs are drying up for the summer so I will be having to use "pipe water" from the community water association that smells and tastes more like laundry bleach water than drinking water. Hoping the filter will make it more fit to drink.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I'm following because I rely on spring water for drinking water. I've had a well dug, they had to go 700 feet to get over 6 gallons a minute but I have 500 feet of water line to access that well as it will serve two homes. Anyway, long story long, I'd like to setup a bulletproof solar still for the spring because the water is so reliable. I'd really rather drink from it if I can help it. That being said, I'm surrounded by farmers who might not share my no spray approach and I'm downhill from a tire dump. I worry about contaminants and would love to UV the shit out of everything.
 
David Miller
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also, I'd like to at least explore the Living water Sepp talks about in his most recent book. I'd love to see a system of a loop between a solar still, storage, piping and finally back to the solar still.
 
Mick Fisch
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I think some of this depends on your level of risk comfort. There really isn't any pure water outside of a lab. The object is to get the purity level you can live with.

They are finding now that there are microorganisms in the rock as deep as we can drill. Some microorganisms are just incredibly tough and can handle fairly high levels of poisons (like chlorine) or radiation or heat. Virus's are so small they are hard to filter out. In the last several years the UN realized they poisoned most of Bangladesh back in the 60's and 70's when they drilled village wells. The aquafers they tapped into have high levels of arsenic. (In the UN's defense, fewer children are dying than previously, when their water sources were often polluted surface water.) If you want completely safe water, maybe you need to wait for them to start mining moon ice, but that may not be a good idea either, we may just not have seen the problems there.

On the plus side, standard issue human bodies do not require (and maybe don't work as well) in absolutely sterile conditions. We can handle lots of stuff in our water, but there are some chemicals that aren't good for us. Our bodies are not obviously inconvenienced by the vast majority of microorganisms. There are some viruses and bacteria that don't work well for us and we want to avoid them. On the plus side, most of the REALLY tough microorganisms don't seem to hurt us.

I had an environmental engineer tell me one time their mantra is "the solution to pollution is dilution. Most water in this day in age has some level of pollution, even if it's just fish crap. The question is how much do you feel is safe.

To me, my risk/comfort level says,
1: don't drink water that people have been dumping their waste in (because any diseases they have transmit to me easily, animal diseases usually don't). I read a while back that in Swedish waterways scientists are finding most of the male fish are androgynous because women on birth control pills urinate and defecate, flush their toilets and the hormones make it through their waste processing systems intact, contaminating the rivers and maybe lakes downstream. I realize that us guys just drink the water instead of breathing it, but something in my lizard brain says that anything that changes the fish like that can't be good for people either.
2: Avoid water that has industrial waste in the upstream. Added to this, look at your aquafer. Bangladesh isn't the only place in the world with naturally contaminated aquafers.
3: Avoid water that has been contaminated by lots and lots of animal waste (just in case some of the diseases transmit, plus many of the hormonal treatments and antibiotics pass through into the water, plus, that's just gross).
4: Filter the water to get out what you can, such as a sand filter or a well (that can a very big sand filter, depending on the aquafer of the well).

Rain water avoids most of these problems. If you put marble or limestone chips in your tank you it will raise any low ph. Bird poop on your roof remains a problem, but really, birds poop everywhere and virus's don't filter out easily so that tells me the virus's are probably everywhere anyway. Besides, depending on where you live, bird poop on the roof will usually be pretty thoroughly dehydrated, cooked, oxidized and solarized. After that it's most likely pretty sterile (although I would want to avoid a sandwich seasoned with it). Run it through a sand filter if you want, but for my thinking, rainwater has got to be the best water source for drinking/cooking looking at ease, purity, cost and flavor.

 
Jamie Chevalier
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That is possibly true where hot sun can heat a metal roof to very hot temps year-round and sterilize things. Not elsewhere. And parasites are much, much tougher than virusesand bacteria; parasites encyst themselves and behave more like a seed than an animal, waiting for proper conditions to come out of suspended animation. Likewise, once you have them, they are not easy to get rid of, being a much more comlex animal with an elaborate life cycle. A course of antibiotics isnt going to make a dent. And the drugs are horrible.

I drank out of wild flowing streams as a kid and believe me, I understand how weird it is to have this barrier between us and the water of life. But now, thos same high Sierra streams are full of giardia etc. These critters are spreading, by human means but also through deer, squirrels, muskrats, etc.... All mammals carry giardia--it is often called beaver fever because they notoriously carry it. And the fact is that we do not have the innate or the acquired immunity to these organisms that we would need in order to function with the disease. (With some exceptions--Many Yupik people, for example, are asymtomatic with giardia--they have drunk surface water used by caribou for centuries and developed that.)

Parasites arent just uncomfortable--they prevent you from absorbing nutrients, especially proteins and minerals. They sap your strength, make you dizzy with fatigue and malnutrition, and stunted one of my kids' growth. I agree that a good aquifer is the best filter, but failing that, please be aware that if you use an "almost-good" system and are driniking the water every day for years, those probabilities will catch up with you.
 
Brian McCune
Posts: 27
Location: Kent County, MI
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Geoff Lawton wrote:Hi Matt
rain water catchment off a roof works fine with clay tiles or metal roof. If you are worried about metals in water that only happens if your pH is really acid 4.5 or lower (very low) through HEAVY industry down wind and can be easy to correct by putting a lump of limestone rock in your water tank. Screen your in take to your tank to prevent mosquito and screen your roof gutters if you live under trees, let a little sun light in through your in take screened hole so you get some algae growth on the inside of the tank which acts as a bio-film taking out minor organic pollutants. This works fine worldwide
Enjoy the best water in the world, ask anyone who lives in rural Australia.


Thank you Geoff, very succinct. I was just reading through these comments, yours makes the most sense. As always you are a beacon of wisdom, guiding wayward Permies towards truth.

Hahah, I suppose I got a bit mushy there lol. Good on ya mate!

What are your thoughts on designing spring sites for a potable source of water? Installing a "spring box" in an area that is inundated (due to uphill swales and dams).

Thanks again man!
 
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