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Old 09-12-2018, 09:46 AM   #1
Lucky13
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Drinking treated versus untreated water.

Moderator's note: I decided to split this topic off of the original thread that was about campsites at Lake Lila.
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Originally Posted by timberghost View Post
Skip the filtering and stop by the spring for your drinking water needs (bring a bladder or container for water transport)...
Past experience working in Public Health informs me that this is an almost sure ticket to a case of Giardia. There is no "safe water" flowing overland or coming out of the ground, filter, boil, or treat first. Or carry your water from home in the car.

Last edited by Neil; 09-12-2018 at 11:28 AM..
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:21 AM   #2
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How common was it in the not too recent past along back roads to see a pipe sticking out of a slope with "clean" water flowing out of it. Often with a couple of cars waiting with empty jugs to fill. Many of those I remember have since been removed.

Years ago, hiking with my Dad in the back country (usually far away from any publicly known trail), there would be welcome glass or jar overturned on a branch next to a spring bubbling out of the ground. I don't recall that he or I ever got sick after drinking our fill of cool great tasting water. Although he did warn me of avoiding getting "beaver fever" from other water sources.

On the other hand I just had a well drilled on a new Adirondack property parcel I recently acquired. I got into unlimited good water at 35 feet, vs. 200 feet for a nearby neighbor at about the same time.
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:57 AM   #3
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When I was a kid, ~ 50 years ago, we didn't think twice about drinking spring or surface water, especially if we were up the headwaters of a stream system. Not anymore, my brother got Giardia a few years ago, and while it didn't hit him until he got home, it knocked him right over for a few weeks. Where the water table is coming from, what else is around, connectivity between the water table and the surface, even the time of year could all affect the quality of your water. At 35 feet, I would certainly want to get a report from a certified laboratory who came and collected the sample, but I guess you have done that if you know the water is good. But a spring near the parking lot of Lake Lila, hearing what I do about abusive behavior on the part of the ignorant or lazy, I'm not taking any more chances. There used to be a marked spring in the MRP that everyone used, but that sign has been gone for a while. Most of the time if you boil water in the evening and then let it sit out in a container overnight, it will be cool enough to drink in the morning, and 10 minutes at a rolling boil should kill any potential pathogens. But I carry my water anymore for truck camping, as the iron content of most of it up there is much higher than what my system is used to, and I'm generally not there long enough to acclimate. IF I start backpacking further in, I'll get a filter.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:02 AM   #4
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When I'm bushwhacking and I find a stream flowing down a trailless mountainside I never treat it. I often stick my face right into it and enjoy a drink of "wild water". (I'm aware of the legend of someone drinking from a stream and finding a dead deer in it upstream.) I do treat water from a catch basin that has busy trails within it or that my map shows to be flowing out of flat areas.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:13 AM   #5
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I often stick my face right into it and enjoy a drink of "wild water".
This is how you get Bigfoot sightings.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:25 AM   #6
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This is how you get Bigfoot sightings.
I never drink hallucinogenic water.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:57 AM   #7
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I used to boil, and people called me paranoid, but now I mostly just use an MSR gravity filter. It works well, and while it won't filter viruses, it does filter the bigger nasties.

I've nicknamed it "The Tick" since I invariably forget about it while it's doing its thing and it fills the bottom bladder to bursting.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:27 PM   #8
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I believe Timberghost was referring to a spring source far from the parking lot.
I personally drank from that spring when there was still a shed over it...in 1983.
That particular source dates back to the 1800's.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:54 PM   #9
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I work at SUNY Oneonta in the outdoor program and some years ago we had an instructor by the name of Erik Schlimmer. Erik is a strong proponent of NOT treating your water when in the backcountry. His arguments with the program chair became legendary on this matter. He's no longer with us, neither is the program chair for that matter, but he continues to be featured from time to time in various Adirondack oriented publications (I know he's been featured in "Adirondack Explorer" before) with the same message; that there is no reason to treat your water when in the backcountry.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

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Old 09-12-2018, 01:20 PM   #10
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I work at SUNY Oneonta in the outdoor program and some years ago we had an instructor by the name of Erik Schlimmer. Erik is a strong proponent of NOT treating your water when in the backcountry. His arguments with the program chair became legendary on this matter. He's no longer with us, neither is the program chair for that matter, but he continues to be featured from time to time in various Adirondack oriented publications (I know he's been featured in "Adirondack Explorer" before) with the same message; that there is no reason to treat your water when in the backcountry.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

snapper
I read his article and he states that he and other participants in his "study" consumed 1500 quarts of untreated water from various areas in the back country. He says no one reported any symptoms of any kind. IIRC he then discusses "confirmation bias" with respect to the risk of infection. I believe he also concludes that the water filter manufacturers sustain the myth of dangerous water in order to sell more water filters.

Slimmer's article was very firmly refuted in Adirondack Peeks magazine by Brendan Wiltse, Ph.D, Science and Stewardship director, Certified Lake manager, NALMS.
Dr. Wiltse states that while it is difficult to quantify the risk of infection it is easy to manage the risk. He suggests treating your water if possible.

While on a recent hike in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness I drew water from 3 dubious sources. Indeed, treating the water with tablets (I doubled the dose in two instances) was easy. I was thirsty and had to wait 30 minutes before drinking but using a filter would have enabled me to drink right away.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snapper View Post
I work at SUNY Oneonta in the outdoor program and some years ago we had an instructor by the name of Erik Schlimmer. Erik is a strong proponent of NOT treating your water when in the backcountry. His arguments with the program chair became legendary on this matter. He's no longer with us, neither is the program chair for that matter, but he continues to be featured from time to time in various Adirondack oriented publications (I know he's been featured in "Adirondack Explorer" before) with the same message; that there is no reason to treat your water when in the backcountry.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

snapper
Erik is a bowel movement waiting to happen.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:51 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
How common was it in the not too recent past along back roads to see a pipe sticking out of a slope with "clean" water flowing out of it. Often with a couple of cars waiting with empty jugs to fill. Many of those I remember have since been removed.
There is one in Northville on Seven Hills Rd. No sign, but it is right by the road side with a distinct turn out. I walk and bike that road frequently and often see people filling up water jugs. I don't drink from it, but I have let my dogs drink from it. They have never had problems as a result.

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Old 09-12-2018, 01:55 PM   #13
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Erik is a bowel movement waiting to happen.
Ok, that made me laugh.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:56 PM   #14
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But OTOH, in this article Thomas Welch, Chairman of pediatrics at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, a member of the national advisory board of the Wilderness Education Association and a wilderness-medicine instructor in Alaska has this to say:
Quote:
I cringe seeing folks pumping pristine Adirondack water through complex plastic contraptions, just as I do seeing them toting bottled water in the city. Of course, illnesses such as giardiasis can be acquired by campers. The culprit, however, is not water but poor personal hygiene. In the developed world, most of these diseases arc spread hand to mouth. Epidemics in nursing homes and cruise ships testify to this. In a backcountry trek, opportunities for such spread are legion.

By focusing on unfounded concerns about water quality, ADK and DEC arc overlooking a more effective strategy to combat giardiasis. The focus should be on encouraging hand washing or the use of sanitizing gels. Coming into contact with a privy at Lake Colden presents a vastly more serious threat to intestinal health than does sipping from the Opalescent River. The DEC would be better advised to put hand-washing reminders on outhouse doors than water-quality warnings at trailheads.
Links to many of the water studies are on his website, www.adirondoc.com.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:59 PM   #15
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It seems to me that there is a lot of advise that DEC posts on their website that is routinely ignored by the "better educated and experienced" on this site. While things like solo trekking in far backwoods areas could result in inconvenience to a LOT of other people IF something should go wrong (and we never plan on anything going wrong, but sometimes it does), not drinking untreated water is a minor hassle that could prevent a major one. AS DEC says," Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection." From speaking with a number of Doctors and seeing what it did to my brother, you will regret it if or when you contact Giardia, but suit yourselves.

I always have a big bottle of hand sanitizer in camp and a small one in the day pack. I've never read any of the Filter manufacturer's stuff, but I worked with Public Health people for years, and they all filter or carry treated tap water.
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:01 PM   #16
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Incidentally, one million Giardia cysts fit under a fingernail. Before going on a hike you should trim your nails and if you wipe your ass after defecation in the woods (most people here do I assume) you should thoroughly disinfect your hand (preferably the wiping hand, not the other one) with an alcohol gel.
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:07 PM   #17
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seeing what it did to my brother, you will regret it if or when you contact Giardia
How do you know his infection was not fecal-oral? According to Dr. Thomas Welch (quoted in a post just above) poor hygiene is the most common source of infection.
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:12 PM   #18
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There are way too many "all or nothing" views being promulgated on this topic. Surprisingly, a lot of these are coming from "educated" sources who should know better.

The facts are simple and obvious: There are several stomach illnesses that are commonly contracted. There are several ways to potentially get each of these. Each of these routes should be considered, and appropriate levels of precautions taken. The appropriate level of precaution is an individual preference across a broad spectrum. Preferentially drinking bottled water in a city where the water is tested and certified as safe is probably at one end of the spectrum; drinking from a roadside mud puddle is probably at the other end.

None of these positions are "wrong." They are preferences. What is "wrong," is these supposedly educating folks yelling at everyone else about how "wrong" they are.
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:15 PM   #19
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You would have to already be infected with Giardia to get a million cysts under a finger nail while cleaning yourself. This is NOT an argument against handwashing, but there has to be an external vector, and surface water, and some subsurface water, have been indicated as transmitters from an infected host.

Epidemiology from the Centers for Disease Control:
"Giardiasis is a diarrheal illness caused by the parasite Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis). A parasite is an organism that feeds off of another to survive.

Giardiasis is a global disease. It infects nearly 2% of adults and 6% to 8% of children in developed countries worldwide. Nearly 33% of people in developing countries have had giardiasis. In the United States, Giardia infection is the most common intestinal parasitic disease affecting humans.

People become infected with Giardia by swallowing Giardia cysts (hard shells containing Giardia) found in contaminated food or water. Cysts are instantly infectious once they leave the host through feces (poop). An infected person might shed 1-10 billion cysts daily in their feces (poop) and this might last for several months. However, swallowing as few as 10 cysts might cause someone to become ill. Giardia may be passed from person-to-person or even from animal-to-person . Also, oral-anal contact during sex has been known to cause infection . Symptoms of giardiasis normally begin 1 to 3 weeks after a person has been infected .

Giardia infection rates have been known to go up in late summer. Between 2006-2008 in the United States, known cases of giardiasis were twice as high between June-October as they were between January-March.

Anyone may become infected with Giardia. However, those at greatest risk are :
•Travelers to countries where giardiasis is common
•People in childcare settings
•Those who are in close contact with someone who has the disease
•People who swallow contaminated drinking water
•Backpackers or campers who drink untreated water from lakes or rivers
•People who have contact with animals who have the disease
•Men who have sex with men

The risk of humans acquiring Giardia infection from dogs or cats is small . The exact type of Giardia that infects humans is usually not the same type that infects dogs and cats."
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:20 PM   #20
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How do you know his infection was not fecal-oral? According to Dr. Thomas Welch (quoted in a post just above) poor hygiene is the most common source of infection.
Actually, his doctor diagnosed it as originating from poor hand sanitation, and originating from his dog, who also contracted it , after drinking untreated surface water. DEC advises that dogs be kept away from water sources in the woods as well, and you are legally required to have your dog leashed on lands inhabited by deer, so the dog could be prevented from drinking from contaminated water. But it requires transmission from one host to another, and water is a very likely vector, especially with a one million to one dilution factor involved.
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