Water: Storage, Filtration & Purification 2016-10-16T18:37:10+00:00

Water: Storage, Filtration & Purification

In an emergency situation clean water may not be available. An average person will use around two gallons of water per day for drinking, food preparation and hygiene.

Storage

It is recommended to store two gallons of water per person, per day. Options include cases of water bottles, individual gallons or multiple gallon containers. And don’t forget about your pets. The amount of water needed is going to depend on the size of your pet.

Note the expiration date on individual water containers. The water doesn’t go bad but the plastic can leech into it. For this reason, all water stored in plastic containers of any size, should be rotated every six months. Water stored for any length of time won’t go bad (aside from leeching) but it could taste “flat”. To remedy this you can aerate the water by pouring it from one container into another and back a few times.

To use recycled containers such as milk jugs, 2-liter or 5 gallon to 55 gallon barrels, make sure the recycled container is food grade. Look for the recycle triangle (usually found on the bottom) and anything with a 1 or 2 is good. Be aware that the water can retain the smell and taste of what was originally stored in it. If you cannot tell what was stored in it, it might be best to buy new. It might cost a bit more, but at least your water won’t smell like pickles or something worse.

Water Treatment

Purify and filter are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Both will remove bacteria and protozoan cysts from contaminated water. However, only a purifier will remove viruses (hepatitis A, meningitis, etc) from contaminated water.

Filtration

There are many types of water filters available from personal bottle filtration units to large family/multiple filter units. A filter will not kill viruses so after filtering water it can be boiled to kill viruses.

Purification

Boiling

According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F kills all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F) from 160° F, all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude.

Bleach

Guidelines on using bleach to make water safe:

If tap water is clear:

  1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
  2. Add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops or about 0.75 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
  3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If tap water is cloudy:

  1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon (16 drops or 1.5 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
  3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

Chlorine Tablets

Chlorine is one of the most common ways that water is purified as is done by many municipalities. Chloramine or chlorine dioxides are some of the compounds that are used in water purification tablets and are effective against bacteria, viruses and cysts. One or two tablets treats one quart of water and leave no after taste. These should be a short-term solution.


Questions? Email prepared@cccbucks.org.