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Potable water collector, or Reverse Osmosis?

Don Splitter


Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
Howdy... I'm trying to figure out how to maintain a good source of potable water at my cabin. I have a well, but the tests came back with Arsenic. This is common to digging deep wells in Northern Minnesota. This is naturally occurring. So, I need to figure out if I'm going to invest in an expensive large water cache system, or an expensive reverse osmosis system. I'd like to just have a countertop osmosis unit, but I can't get straight answers on one that will filter out the arsenic.

The expense from the rain water cache would involve putting on a steel roof, so water collected doesn't have all the crap/chemicals that comes from shingles.

I'm at a loss, so any ideas are appreciated.

My option of last resort is to fill up a large container from the lake, and filter that.


Zone 3(a/b) Ely, Minnesota
No matter what it is I pursue.. I prefer to pursue using my energy
Mike Dayton


Joined: Dec 15, 2010
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
How often do you go to the camp, and how long do you normally stay? Can the well weter be used to bath and flush, or is it too dangerous to even bath with? If you are going for short stays I would consider taking drinking water with me. Drinking, brushing your teeth cooking and doing dishes does not take that much water if you are only there for a weekend. If you stay for weeks or months at a time then you need a better long term solution, and that unfortunately may cost you money.


Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world,  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. Formerly pa_friendly_guy_here
Don Splitter


Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
Mike, I've been bringing drinking water up for a bit. I may move up there soon to go to work for the Forest Service. So, I need to start looking at long term alternatives for water. I'd like to go the water cache via the roof, but that's going to be expensive.

Has anyone bought a large 400+ gallon potable water container, and rigged it up to catch rain water by using some type of funneling?
Mike Dayton


Joined: Dec 15, 2010
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
If you are going to build a structure to funnel water into your tank, why not build a car port or shed with a new metal roof. That gives you to roof area to catch the water as well as serving another usefull purpose. You can let the house roof along because it aint broke yet, and use the money to add a permanant improvement to your property. My thoughts on tank size is that bigger is always better. Most cisterns around here are at least 1000 gal, some are 2000 gal. Give you a bit more buffer if there is a drought. Good luck with your project.
Don Splitter


Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
Mike... that is a friggin outstanding idea... thanks buddy!

Any hints on where to buy water cisterns? Potable, or non potable.
Devon Olsen


Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 1002
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
    
    6
i am not an expert but i believe the RO will filter out the arsenic just fine, problem is that the process of evaporating and condensing removes pretty much everything else as well, such as the minerals and what not in the water that are very beneficial for you, straight H2O is not very good for you in comparison to H2O+minerals and such from what i understand


Current Cheyenne, WY project
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Sage Boyd


Joined: Mar 15, 2012
Posts: 30
I have worked with military-standard ROWPU (reverse osmosis water purification unit) models since 2005. I have friends that have in-home units and drink only the water from their homes.
My first advice is that your shower is giving you more arsenic intake than your drinking water. Your body absorbs (through osmosis) more chemicals in a 10 min hot shower than you would get by drinking gallons of the water a day. That said, I would immediately start adding a regimen of Lugol's solution to your drinking water 2-3x a day. The iodine creates detox pathways that allow your body to flush out the arsenic. It could save your life if the arsenic levels are high.

Second, a previous poster mentioned a lack of minerals in rowpu water, and I agree with that. Drinking only rowpu water would soon cause health problems resulting from dehydration (your body needs minerals to process water) and mineral depletion (cause your body will use what its got in store). Ever eaten an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)? There is a reason the instructions say to have at least a little of *everything*, even the drink pouch. The drink mixes in the MRE include a supply of the minerals missing from the ROPWU water, to try to prevent adverse consequences that in combat forces. That said, if you have access to other fluids like milk, juice, tea, etc., your body gains most of the minerals needed from those and from the food you are eating (which is not usually going to come from sterile/asceptic pouches, like it does in the MRE). If you use exclusively rain water, it will be full of minerals, since every rain droplet contains one particulate from the atmosphere.

In your case, if it's possible I would build a separate roof to collect rain, have as large a cistern as possible, and try to use that water for showers at the very least. You could continue to use well water for anything else, even drinking, though boiling your drinking water first would allow the particulates of arsenic to change form which would render them harmless in digestion (like sand).

Hope that helps.
Don Splitter


Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
Wow! Great advice! I'm definitely on the Cistern track. One thing though.. You can boil the water to "defuse" the arsenic? I've read that boiling actually condenses and increases the arsenic? (stupid internet : )

I love the metal roof w/ cistern idea. That's outstanding!
Sage Boyd


Joined: Mar 15, 2012
Posts: 30
RE:
boiling does condense the arsenic, yet it also changes the form of it... into a solid/non-absorb-able state, so it becomes inert and not harmful. Does that make sense? I'm not a chemist, so i don't understand exactly what changes, tho I know that boiled water, once cooled, is more easily absorbed by the body/plants... meaning that it is more efficiently used. You could boil the water and then run it through a simple cloth filter and you should visibly see the difference on the cloth. You will see fine grit, and the white specks are the arsenic. NO, boiling water does not remove arsenic, but it does render it safer.
 
 
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