Water… a requirement
for life on earth. The purity of water determines, to a large degree, our
health as humans. So we, in most cases, depend upon the processing of
water to survive in good health. Our cities are charged with this
processing, and mostly water quality is not questioned. In some
localities, only after an outbreak of water-borne disease is detected,
people are told to boil water. Those who have wells or springs depend
upon natural processes to purify their water.
So, what is in that
water? And how is it purified? Can we actually depend on good, healthy
water coming out of that tap?
In some cases, we can
depend on it. But not always, and much of the time municipal water
supplies have chemicals many people don't really want. The normal
purification process uses these chemical means to kill off the bad bugs,
with some filtration. It's also true that normal methods such as chlorine
aren't very effective against certain viruses. So there are always trace
amounts of nasties in municipal supplies, and in many cases the same is
true for well water. Usually water supplies are derived from ground
water, usually aquifers. This includes individual wells. Think about
that. For many years, people have been dumping waste out on the ground,
spraying crops, raising cattle and other livestock, and so on. That waste
will eventually find its way to the aquifers. Almost always, we depend on
natural processes to purify the waste into potable water. Unfortunately,
natural purification doesn't always work on chemicals used in farming
operations such as bug sprays and so forth, not to mention companies that
intentionally dump chemical waste. Nor does the natural filtration always
work on biological contaminants such as coliforms.
Water filtration is a
big business. There are numerous types of filtration devices available.
Among these are ceramic filters, ceramics with activated carbon, carbon,
micron filters, and on and on. Probably the best of these filters are
reverse osmosis, but these offer disadvantages: they are slow and removal
of chemicals is questionable. A good system would consist of reverse
osmosis coupled with activated charcoal to remove most of the bad stuff.
Such a system would, in least expensive form, provide a homestead with
only drinking and cooking water of high quality. And these can be quite
costly. An effective whole house filter can cost upwards of two thousand
dollars of your hard earned money.
How about that
stagnant pond, the one that grows mosquitoes and so forth? What natural
purpose can it possibly have? Well, here's an answer. That pond is the
breeding ground not only of annoying little blood sucking creatures, but
also it breeds numerous other little predators. Those predators are the
ones that actually clean up water that eventually finds its way into the
aquifers. This amalgam of life consists of various bacteria, fungi,
various protozoa and rotifera, and a plethora of other small life.
These creatures feed upon other organisms, many being harmful to us.
standing water cannot be consumed, since it contains many very harmful
critters, but we can take that water, or river or spring water, lake
water, or shallow well water and filter it to make good water fit for
consumption. We pump the water through a micron filter, put it
through a carbon filter for chemicals, and we can use it to take a shower.
Some we'll put through a reverse osmosis filter for drinking or cooking,
and we're safe - mostly. By this time, we've put hundreds or
thousands of dollars into the filtration system.
But there are
alternatives. We can make our own filtration systems, and we can do it
for a fraction of the cost of a manufactured system, and have it be more
effective than many municipal treatment facilities. It's really quite
First, we remove the
turbidity, the cloudiness caused by various debris in the supply.
This can be as simple as a few layers of cloth, or as complex as a whole
house water filter. Since a whole house filter is quite costly, we
go for a few layers of coarse woven cloth, such as cheesecloth. This
will remove most of the large chunks of junk, and the rest we'll take out
later. This step may not be necessary with clear stream water, but
it's a good idea anyway. It's also possible to use the sediment
filters available for RVs, though those aren't terribly cheap either.