Drinking Flood Water.

The end of our flood!

riverlevel100316

Not bad, 3.92 metres. We were expecting worse but the river rise is slowing to only a couple of millimetres in the last hour or so. So if it doesn’t rain, that’s it, until next time.

Thing that has amazed us this time is the debris.
Logs, fence panels, wicked looking posts complete with nails, and as for river vegetation? Lets put it this way, all the vegetarians in the UK would have dined out for free for the next week! No vehicles though. Nothing to get excited about. Bit boring really.

teabiscuits

Our dreams of Water World may have been a “little” premature.

Yet on a survival note, the water is thick with turbidity aka suspended MUD.
So if we wanted to draw water from the river for drinking:-

What sort of things should we be thinking about?

What’s in the water?
Flood water can contain a soup of chemical contamination, biol-matter, in the form of untreated sewage, vegetation,  maybe cadavers, and as stated a lot of turbidity made up mainly of soils and dissolved matter.

Which leaves the survivor with a multiple part headache when producing potable (safe drinking) water.

Collection can be hazardous from fast-moving water.
Even getting close to a flow of water can be dangerous as river banks are weakened.

Then you’ve got the most basic of filtering to sort out.
Getting rid of the big bits seems pretty self-explanatory BUT they could be chemically and biol-toxic. Cuts may allow offer free passage to contaminates, right through to chemicals entering through the skin.

So immediately you are looking at using waterproof gloves and standard biological and chemical barrier techniques. Which boil down to “DON’T TOUCH!”

After that attention needs to be paid to the turbidity.
All that fine suspended matter.
A key point as this fine matter can easily clog filters.
A simple matter of using a coarse filter for instance a makeshift layered water filter.
Only that takes time and resources where as a packet of coffee filter papers is cheap, light, quick, and more importantly disposable.

All the time you are filtering, what you use may be retaining toxic material let alone the ‘half way house’ containers you are using during each stage.

That means the basics of:-

  1. Collection,
  2. Basic filtration,
  3. Fine filtration,
  4. Purification (sterilization), and finally
  5. Subsequent storage

All need separate containers and great care needs to be taken to avoid cross contamination.

Hang on though, I’ve got a survival straw or a Katadyn!
All in one units so I don’t need to play around?
REALLY!
Go back and read the paperwork on why you need to filter out turbidity as failure to do so will shorten the life expectancy of the filter AND what each device actually does.

OR as Katadyn puts it:-
In heavy sediment conditions, wrap a coffee filter or bandanna around the intake pre-filter. Where possible, place untreated water in container and wait
for sediment to settle out until water appears clear – then filter from water above the sediment.

It should be noted that even the mighty Katadyn only filters to 0.2 microns (bacteria are between 0.2 and 5 microns) So viruses can get through.
SARS and Hepatitis are two such viruses.

It should be noted that life-straw’s manual states:-
Never use LifeStraw® to filter seawater or chemically contaminated water, including water from mining tailing ponds or from near large agricultural operations.

Flood water, source unknown, what’s in it, unknown, and as lifestraw does not contain chemical disinfection agents, what’s it going to do about viruses?

You’ll now see why I’m saying RTFM aka Read The Flaming Manual!
And why I get ULTRA CAUTIOUS about flood water.

Then there is the purification.
Chemicals just won’t cut it when there is loads of turbidity as particles can act as “shells” round some nasty type bugs and absorb the chemicals reducing their effectiveness.

Thus even when coarse filtered the alternatives to an all in one approach could include:-
Reverse osmosis, Ceramic filters, a rolling boiling, or distillation.
SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) is definitely not an option!

And finally
To play safe, and we do BIG TIME, we use a silver and activated charcoal micro ceramic filter system PLUS we “rolling boil” all water whether it comes from a ‘safe’ water supply or not. As for storage? Yep, we add a type of bleach to keep things fresh.
Overkill? Possibly.
But from what I read, SARS and Hepatitis isn’t all that nice.

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6 Responses to Drinking Flood Water.

  1. yokel. says:

    drink flood water? only as a last resort when there is no other option.
    if i’m in an area that floods I’ve got other problems not just drinking water!!

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