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Non-Potable Water | Types and How to Spot Them

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Non-Potable Water | Types and How to Spot Them

Knowing how to spot non-potable water is one of the many skills we need to master. This will ensure that our outdoor activities will not turn out a disaster.

We need to learn how to keep ourselves and our companions out of harm’s way when exploring areas we are not familiar with.

In this article:

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Non-Potable Water | What You Need to Know

What Is Non-Potable Water?

Heading to the great outdoors is an excellent way to de-stress and detach from the hustle and bustle of life, but heading out is not as simple as it sounds.

Knowing potable and non-potable water may not exactly be the first thing that comes to mind when preparing for outdoor activities.

However, this is crucial information we need to be aware of, especially given how the consumption of the wrong type of water can carry significant health risks.

Non-Potable Water vs Potable Water

Simply put, non-potable water is not fit for human consumption and is by nature usually harder to find compared to water that is safe to drink.

We cannot deny though that there are still people who may find differentiating non-potable and potable water a little tricky, more so outside the confines of their day-to-day.

With our heightened exposure to non-potable water when camping, hiking, or on any outdoor trip, all the more should we increase our knowledge about which water is safe to drink and use.

To help you understand this a little more, check out our list of the types of non-potable water that we probably encounter more than the others.

Types of Non-Potable Water
1. Rainwater

It may seem odd for some people how rainwater is non-potable, given that it directly comes from nature. Still, we also have to understand that the water cycle involves water evaporating from just about anywhere.

With this indiscriminate collection of water, especially with the existing water pollution issues, we need to consume water with care. If you need to drink rainwater on your outdoor trip, make sure you purify it first using iodine, chlorine, or simply boiling it.

2. Creek, Dam, & River Water

Since we are already on the topic of not immediately trusting anything you find in nature, we should also treat water bodies such as creeks, dams, and river waters the same way we treat non-potable water.

Like how rainwater needs to go through purification, so do the waters from these sources. Since they are exposed to other elements such as soil, rocks, and other particles, make sure you subject these waters to water filtration.

This will lessen the possibility of you ingesting any foreign objects.

3. Quarry Lakes

Often the result of deep-ground excavations or mining operations, quarry lakes are human-made pits that eventually become filled with water through either the collection of groundwater, rainwater, or both.

With that in mind, they may be toxic for humans, hence the need to avoid them altogether or at least make their water potable first before drinking.

4. Recycled Water

Also known as reclaimed water, this type of water is wastewater converted and treated to become reusable. Usually, from diverse sources such as residential homes or businesses, recycled water goes through sewer systems or wastewater treatment plants to become useful for their next intended purpose.

Though recycled water may be harder to find in the wild than the first few examples (since they are usually in secure facilities), you should think twice about consuming recycled water if you stumble upon it.

For this and all the other kinds of water you encounter, make sure that they have been treated first for human consumption.

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Health Effects of Drinking Non-Potable Water

There are many reasons why we are so particular about safety precautions for drinking water in the wild. One of which is the fact that every year, an estimated number of 829,000 people die from diarrhea just because of drinking unclean water.

If that’s not already bad enough, half of the world’s hospital beds are for people suffering from a water-related disease. Besides, being far away from civilization is already dangerous; being sick while in the wild can be life-threatening.

Before we tackle the effects of drinking non-potable water, here are signs to watch out for that can show that you may have consumed non-potable water.

If you ever experience these during your outdoor trip, find the means to be medically examined and treated as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Non-Potable Water Consumption
Diarrhea
Abdominal cramps
Nausea
Vomiting
Fever
Dehydration

Getting immediate help to address the symptoms mentioned can help you quickly detect other possibly more severe diseases. You would want to have them checked before they worsen.

To give you an idea, here are the usual conditions you can get from drinking dirty water.

Diseases You Can Get from Drinking Non-Potable Water

1. Cholera

A silent killer, cholera can kill a person within hours if left untreated. Most people do not notice this disease until it’s almost too late. This is why it’s important to watch out for the mentioned symptoms.

Symptoms particularly diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration are common signs of cholera.

2. Cryptosporidiosis

This disease is due to microscopic parasites called cryptosporidium that is sometimes present in unclean water. You can suspect having this if you experience our listed symptoms above.

3. Dysentery

This type of gastroenteritis involves the inflammation of the intestine and can be fatal if left untreated. If you experience diarrhea with blood, you can suspect that you have probably contracted dysentery.

4. Giardiasis

Somewhat similar to cryptosporidiosis, ingestion of microscopic parasites causes giardiasis. The parasite called giardia can sometimes be found in dirty water. While it is rarely fatal, it can have lasting effects, especially on children.

Other symptoms apart from the mentioned ones can be itchy skin, hives, and swelling of the eyes and joints. This sometimes does not have symptoms at all, which makes it difficult to detect.

Watch this video by TED-Ed to know when is water safe to drink:



Prevention is always better than needing to perform contingent actions. This makes preparation a vital part of any outdoor activity. Always be prepared to ensure that you and your companions are safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

Do you have any other ideas or techniques on how to spot non-potable water? Share them with us in the comments section below!

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Related

Health Effects of Drinking Non-Potable Water

Health Effects of Drinking Non-Potable Water – Knowing potable and non-potable water may not exactly be the first thing that comes to mind when preparing for outdoor activities. However, this is crucial information we need to be aware of, especially given how the consumption of the wrong type of water can carry significant health risks.NCEH provides leadership to promote health and quality of life by preventing or controlling those diseases, birth defects, or disabilities resulting from interaction between people and the environment. Healthy drinking waters for Rhode Islanders.Potable water is fresh water that you drink every day (hopefully). It's been filtered and cleaned. non-potable includes rainwater and recycled water which is not Potable water isnwater thatbhas been treated so that microbiales that can cause diseases such as Dysentery or Cholera are not present.

Chapter 8: Rural Water Supplies and Water-Quality Issues | Healthy… – Health concerns expressed by opponents have largely been dismissed until recently. But do we need to add it to drinking water so it gets into the bloodstream and potentially into the brain? "Second, we need to make sure fluoridation doesn't raise the risk of adverse health effects.When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp. Here are six reasons to make sure you're drinking enough water…Be safe, stay healthy. I let my water sit out to water plants so the chlorine off gasses before using it so salts do not form on the surface of the soil. From a gambling standpoint non potable water for rinsing dishes (a relative term) is probably pretty safe as long as the dishes dry completely – sunlight…

Chapter 8: Rural Water Supplies and Water-Quality Issues | Healthy...

Drinking non-potable water does not carry significant health risks. – Non-drinking water is any water that is not intended for human consumption or for purposes These Guidelines do not introduce any additional legislative requirements to current prerequisites. MAR water Non-drinking water. Non-potable water Operational monitoring Point of Connection Point of Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks (Phase 1)…Where do you draw the line when you know the water isn't safe to drink? This is hard to answer with an authoritative source since the quality of non-potable water varies widely from the The reason why they are classed non-potable is primarily because of high mineral content or particulate matter, which…Safe and readily available water is important for public health, whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production or recreational purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries' economic growth and can contribute greatly to…

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