This is certainly one question that leaves people with different opinions. “Water is life”. While you can survive up to three weeks without food, the case is different for water, this is the most important 10 Basic Needs for Survival. Depending on the conditions you may likely last for a week or just three days. When in a crisis situation, and there is a downpour you won’t hesitate before drinking. The problem remains with how safe is the water you’re drinking?
Like other water, you can certainly drink rainwater but with precaution. Collecting rainwater for storage is important as well as making it safe. These two points can be a lifesaver in a crisis situation.
There are a lot of contaminants that can make rainwater unfavorable for drinking. For those living around industries and factories drinking rain water directly can be risky. The truth is factories and industries create enough pollution that can lead to acid rain. This can even lead to life-threatening conditions. The case is not different from those living around volcanos or in the places most vulnérable to storms. There are particles emitted by the volcano that can contaminate rainwater. These particles make it unsafe to keep drink rainwater over a long period.
Airborne pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites can make rainwater unsafe for drinking. You wouldn’t want to fall very sick from drink water. It is therefore important to be cautious even when your environment is strictly residential.
Rainwater is safe for drinking if the following guidelines are properly adhered to.
Adhering to these little tips answers the question can you drink rainwater?
Around me, most people drink rainwater. It's called catchment water here. Most folks catch rain off their metal roofs, use raingutters and pipes to direct it to a holding tank. By far, most people treat the water in some fashion....but not all. Just about everyone has a filter, basically to protect their pumps. But I've been to a few places where the water goes to the house via gravity, thus no pump, thus no filter. Those places rely upon gravity to settle the debris out. When debris builds up too thick on the bottom of the tank, they clean it out.....perhaps every few years.
Truthfully I've not seen one house having a water divertor to channel the first few minutes of rain from entering the holding tank. It's a nice idea, but when you live in an area with limited rainfall, every drop counts, so water isn't thrown away. With no divertor, dirt from the roof and gutters can enter the tank more so than if a first flush divertor is used. Most people make an effort to keep leaves are large dirt particles from entering, but the dust and small stuff which goes right into the tank along with the rain.
Santitation.....most people do something, but again, not all. The county health department is constantly reminding people to sanitize their water, but I know of many families who don't bother. In fact, I've accidently drank water at their homes and survived unscathed. But there is a real risk of leptospirosis, rat lungworm, and other diseases from untreated water. Knowing that, most people use either chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, or UV lamps to treat their drinking water.
People who have been raised on piped in water tend to be appalled by the idea of catchment water. I've overheard tourists declare in shock when they discovered that they were drinking rainwater when they visited our Volcanoes National Park. Some claim that it made them sick. I have to laugh, because that water is cleaner than they drink back home in their cities. Clean rainwater is drinkable, of course! But city folk don't seem to know that. By the way, the park has a sophisticated water treatment system.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
What most folks drink in the city is lake/river water. which is fed by rain water. So if 'dirty' lake water can be drank so can rain water.
But I think the real question is can I drink unfiltered rain water/well water/spring water/etc.
I would say if you grew-up drinking that water filled with it's specific set of local microbes and you survived pass age 5, you are well vaccinated against those critters. But if some new microbe/critter arrives...well. Also if you are visiting and drinking some new place rain water, then who knows what you are in for.
That said I drank rain water, that was never ever filtered or sanitized every single summer for a month or two when I went to visit. I never got sick. I suppose I could have gotten sick in the before age 6 timeframe and I just never remembered it. I didn't like the taste of the water. I would alternate which sibling I brought with me and they didn't get sick either. Other visiting cousins were fine too.
At my parents house, it was 100% piped water until we got a tank. Then we only drank piped water but laundry/bath/cooked with rain water. We didn't take showers because it was room temperature water and it was gravity powered, but I am happy because breathing in shower mist of 70F water leads to serious health issues.
It is amazing how worried people can be about drinking rain water. As a general rule, filtering or treating rainwater is not required and can actually cause problems. "Employ the right procedure when collecting rainwater" is all you really need to worry about. Collecting and drinking rainwater safely is very simple.
Filtration doesn't necessarily require any electric power at all. Those (more elaborate) systems that do will run from an appropriate solar setup.
For what it's worth ... I drank rain water from the Houston area for a number of years. Not just Houston but the east side near the refineries. It would be hard to find worse rain water than that. Used a simple gravity fed dual stage activated carbon filter. Still alive & healthy.
edited to add ... When collecting from a roof or other dirty surface disinfection is also recommended. That can be as simple as leaving it in the sun. Look up SODIS for more info on that simple & effective technique.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever.
I only have rainwater to use for the household.
Within Australia it is common. filtration is not essential, but large tanks to hold it are the best way to have good water.
First flush systems take away the dust and detritus and a large tank allows plenty of time for the water to clean itself.
People who want disinfectants, etc are just panicking
John Daley Bendigo, Australia
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