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#39079 - 03/20/05 02:43 AM Why filter your water?
Jagd Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 23
Loc: Wash DC
As a boy scout, I regularly dipped my aluminum cup into mountain streams in eastern Oregon for a refreshing drink of cool water. No filter, other than what nature provided. Was I at risk? If so, I never had any ill effects.

Now under other circumstances, I wouldn't drink the water of a murky pond, or from an obviously contaminated source, but what about clear mountain water?

I carry purification tablets in my survival kit, but I wonder under what circumstances I'd use them.

#39080 - 03/20/05 03:21 AM Re: Why filter your water?
bountyhunter Offline

Registered: 11/14/03
Posts: 1224
Loc: Milwaukee, WI USA

It is said you never see or hear the bullet that gets you.

This would seem even more true with pathogens, chemicals, and other nasties that do not make their presence known with colors, consistency, or turpidity.

Unless you are willing to take a chance at spewing vital fluids and neutrients from both ends of your body, it is best to error on the side of caution.


#39081 - 03/20/05 04:13 AM Re: Why filter your water?
GoatRider Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 835
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
I've been told that clear mountain stream can be the most likely places to get giardia. In still water, the giardia settles somewhat, but in a stream it stays suspended.
- Benton

#39082 - 03/20/05 01:51 PM Re: Why filter your water?
Brangdon Offline

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 1204
Loc: Nottingham, UK
I believe the risk depends on how much you drink. If you drank nothing but stream water for several days, you might get problems you wouldn't get from just a mouthful.

I imagine the stream water is less wholesome if there is a dead sheep lying in it upstream. Or whatever; there is usually an element of risk.

If you have the means to make fire, and you have a mug you can use as a pan to boil water in, purification tablets become optional in my view. I carry some now because I had some available and they don't take up much room.
Quality is addictive.

#39083 - 03/20/05 03:09 PM Re: Why filter your water?

How often did you drink from that mountain?

#39084 - 03/20/05 08:59 PM Re: Why filter your water?
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Unfortunately, Giardia can be passed through the intestinal tract of nearly every warm-blooded animal in the world. So, the chances of some animal or human pooping upstream in the water or near the water & washed into the water by rainfall is reasonably good.

As for your previous experiences, it has been said that it's better to be lucky than rich or good=looking! <img src="/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />


#39085 - 03/20/05 10:39 PM Re: Why filter your water?

Quite a few years ago the conventional widsom was that nearly every stream in North America was contaminated with giardia. I probably got that from Backpacker magazine or some place similar. I don't know if there is better information now, but I assume all water is dirty.

I caught something once south of the border. I don't know if it was giardia but IIRC the symptoms are similar. It stayed with me for about 3 months. I lost 20 or 30 pounds, and not just dehydration. I assume that I lost weight because food passed through me too fast to digest - I was taking Alegra sinus pills then, and I would see them whole, not broken down at all, in the toilet. My doctor had me eat lots of fiber and let it work itself out.

Nearly any method of purification is easier than finding a toilet every 20 minutes for months.

#39086 - 03/20/05 11:20 PM Re: Why filter your water?
Jagd Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 23
Loc: Wash DC
OK, they're nasty little buggers, that Giardia, but the water I drank, only occassionally, came from under a glacier-like pack of snow, about 100 yards away.

#39087 - 03/21/05 08:07 AM Re: Why filter your water?
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1163
Loc: Channeled Scablands
A dog doc friend of mine from florida says all the dogs have it where he lives
cause of the puddles of water everywhere, they keep reinfecting each other.

On the other hand there have been a couple of studies showings Sierra Nevada
mountain water to be better than tap water.

The best way to avoid Giardia is to make sure your buddies wash there hands
after they poop and before they dip into the gorp bag.

#39088 - 03/21/05 05:07 PM Re: Why filter your water?
norad45 Offline

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 1506
In my area grazing seems to be the biggest source of contamination. The majority of public lands here allow cows and sheep. I would not dream of drinking from any stream in these areas without boiling, filtering, or purifying.

The primitive areas are different. These are roadless areas where no grazing is allowed. I usually get my water via coffee or tea, which means it's been boiled, otherwise I carry my own. On the relatively few occasions I've taken a drink from a stream, I've had no problems. I think that the risk is a bit overblown, at least in these areas. But since I've been turned on to MP1 tablets I probably won't take even that slim chance.

Regards, Vince

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