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Sep 19 11 11:37 AM

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I live in a small out of the way village that receives its water from a well.
The county uses an electric pump to get the water from the well to a storage tank
where it is chlorinated and then sent on to people homes. If the power goes out our little village 
has 3 days of water of water in the tanks. 

Many residents have a small catchment or at least  a guttered roof whose water 
can be diverted into catchment.

My question is : What kind of water purification systems are people on catchments 
using ?

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#1 [url]

Sep 19 11 4:14 PM

I use a Berkey Light System for drinking water, nothing else gets filtered.  So far I haven't died.  Berkey is gravity fed counter top system.  Best prices are on eBay & the guy I buy from usually sends a sport bottle version with each order.  I keep one in the car, hurricane box, emergency kit, kitchen, etc.

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#2 [url]

Sep 20 11 1:51 AM

Not much to add here, but I try to keep it clean going into a polyethylene tank. While the capacity is less than others (850 gallons), it seems the upside is that the water cycles through faster. Naturally, when a drought comes to the rainforest such as the first three months of '98, where not a drop fell, I'd gladly take that larger capacity. Anyway, I've gone to filtering the drinking water through cartridge filters 1/2 carbon and 1/2 calcite. The harder water tastes better and is probably healthier. You'd think a concrete tank would help out with both capacity and pH. Still, the enclosed-ness of the plastic tanks are pretty good for keeping excess contaminant out of the water stash.

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#4 [url]

Sep 20 11 11:10 AM

Aloha Buffychick,

Er, I don't chlorinate...(this is where the 'don't try this at home' caveat goes). And as I say, it seems to me that minimizing the brew that would harbor pathogens, i.e. roof, gutters, etc. relatively clear of debris, along with a complete cycling of the smaller tank (maybe 1 month of normal use means total turnover of the water) is perhaps a good strategy. Again, it places one on the margin for being thirsty when our fairly regular rain patterns change. Along with redundancy in systems, a strategy for dealing with that is a plastic 50 gallon drum that I can schlep to the county spigot to haul, maybe a weeks worth of water -- motorized schlepping to be sure. So ya, I could be lame in the lepto dept. I have always kept a family of outside cats to help in the ratting, and they have, but are waning for various reasons. And not to pick on Hamakua or anything, but the former cane fields, etc. have spawned nuts populations perhaps more out of whack than say this relatively intact Ohia forest. Nonetheless, raising a child here these days, I share your concerns and thank you for your always helpful presence on this forum!


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#5 [url]

Sep 20 11 11:49 AM

A concrete tank runs a pretty constant ph of about 7.6. Once you get used to it it's hard to drink water out of others tanks as it will literally taste sour and give you a gut ache. Crushed coral could be put in plastic tanks and can help with that and trace minerals too. We do that as well.

Lepto is a pretty big organism and most filters would remove it. I throw a little bleach in(at the gutter) every once in a while or after heavy rains. As the tank isn't enclosed(sealed, as in a pipe) the odor(and protection) doesn't last long.

It's a good idea to keep crystalline iodine around if you every get a desperate kind of situation where you need to really worry about drinking sketchy stuff. You can order kits/or just the chemical if you're familiar with the use. A little goes a very long way and a pound might treat a lifetime. Sure, one can boil but it becomes shocking how much fuel one can consume doing it. Having dealt with funky water a lot of places and a lot of times(the boats had catchment systems too) one learns that the big risk is actually viruses-- especially stuff like the whole hep series, that filters won't catch. In a culture like ours where people have some funky habits and less than ideal stewardship of some of their projects. . .it's worth thinking about.

It's just as important to consider water for livestock. Ours drink the overflow from the aquaponics system.

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#6 [url]

Sep 20 11 8:00 PM

Islandnotes, the rats up here are prolific. They are nocturnal so it is easy to forget about them .
Then the first cool night in December they have a party in our attic. Every year we work on the
house to keep them out but every year they are back....several times.  Rats are  also the reason
we have so many feral cats.

I have known a few people who have had Lepto here. One died. Hepatitis is really
common in the schools.  So I guess I tend to be cautious about water . 

Think I will get one of Hooligals Berkley systems.

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#7 [url]

Sep 21 11 12:35 AM

I forgot to mention a great use for the used Berkey filters...
Rig up another Berkey system with two food grade buckets and use the old
Filters to pre-filter for large sediments. It makes your new filters last longer.

I think the guy I buy from on eBay is Directive21. Last time I checked he still
Had free shipping to HI. I prefer the Berkey light because I can see in it for
Water level and if skeeters are in the prefiltered reservoir-happens if I accidentally
Leave the cover slightly off and the bugs get in. So far everyone I've turned on to
Berkey appreciates the simplicity, quality and cleanliness of their water. Mine is
Going on it's fourth year, second set of filters. It's a great asset especially if you don't
Have electricity for water pump and/or UV. And it sure beats hauling from the
County spigots.

And then there's the copper stovetop shower made by Ryerros dad. Completely changed my
Quality of life up here at Chez Shanty.

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#8 [url]

Sep 22 11 11:22 AM

I'm using a relatively new, fairly inexpensive technology that effectively purifies even heavily contaminated water without any power requirement at all. 

It's a ceramic dome .2 micron filter, packed with activated charcoal, silver, and other materials, that removes bacteria, heavy metals, etc. It produces safe drinking water from even heavily polluted ditch water.  It first came to my attention when used in disaster relief after the big tsunami in India a few years ago, and then again in Haiti after the hurricane. Now it is being used by overseas troops in distant postings. The smallest dome filter, which retails for about $22, can be used with 2 buckets or barrels to form a very simple gravity drip filter system which will process about 15 gallons a day, or by pressurizing the feed tank with a small bicycle pump, it can process 70 gallons a day. 

With a small amount of simple maintenance... cleaning the dome surface every two weeks with a brush or soft cloth... the filter is good for 6 months.

You can buy the filter alone and DIY, or buy a complete gravity drip system (filter, 2 5-gallon buckets, spigot) for about $50, or get the pressurized one for about $60. For a more "First World" installation, you can even get an under-sink housing for conventional plumbing for about $100, or step up to a larger size "candle" style filter for whole-house type applications. The results of lab tests of these filters seem almost too good to be true, but they've been verified multiple times by various independent organizations. (Results below) The combination of the .2 micron pore size and activated packing material creates an effective filter water an order of magnitude finer than the conventional water filters sold in hardware stores, literally finer than bacteria. You can read more about them or purchase them from Monolithic Domes  or from Just Water.

Removal capabilities as follows:

>99% Arsenic 5 and 99% Arsenic 3 (special order)

>99% Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)

>95% Chlorine and Chloramines

>99% Taste

>99% Odor

>98% Aluminum

>96% Iron

>98% Lead

>90% Pesticides

>85% Herbicides

>85% Insecticides

>90% Rodenticides

>85% Phenols

>85% mtbe

>85% Perchlorate

>80% Trihalomethanes

>95% Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons

>99.999% of particles larger than 0.5 micron (Staffordshire University Labs) (includes Anthrax)

>99.7% of particles larger than 0.3 micron (Staffordshire University Labs)

>98% of particles larger than 0.2 micron (Staffordshire University Labs)

>100% Giardia Lamblia

>100% Cyclospora

>100% removal of live Cryptosporidium (WRc Standard) 

>100% removal of Cryptosporidium (NSF Standard 53 – A.C. fine dust – 4 log challenge)

>100% removal of E. Coli, Vibrio Cholerae (Johns Hopkins University)

>99.999% removal of Salmonella Typhil, Shigella Dysenteria, Kiebsiella Terrigena (Hyder Labs)

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#9 [url]

Sep 22 11 12:03 PM

Also, for those unfamiliar with leptospirosis, Hawai'i health authorities say that about 50% of the rat and mongoose population carries this bacterial infection, and dogs, pigs, cattle, etc. can carry it as well... but cats don't. It's a relatively rare infection in people, but it can be serious, even fatal if not treated promptly, and there is more lepto in Hawai'i than anywhere else in the country. Rodent urine on rain catchment surfaces is thought to be the most common disease vector here. Swimming in infected water and exposure at slaughter operations are also known sources of contamination.

The important thing to understand is that you do not need to drink contaminated water to be infected. It can also enter the body through minor skin cuts, or through mucous membranes (eyes, nose,mouth). This is why showering with unpurified water, or washing dishes with it can put you at risk.

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#10 [url]

Sep 24 11 1:02 PM

Although Monolithic has slightly lower prices on the 4x4 dome filter, I see that Cheaper Than Dirt has a great video showing how to assemble a complete two-bucket drip water filtration system for under $50.

Also, for those who use the Berkey system, Cheaper Than Dirt carries a replacement candle filter for it for $22.  

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#11 [url]

Sep 24 11 3:12 PM

Cheaper than dirts shipping costs more than the filter.  Do you know if they will ship parcel post?  Using a filter like that seems it would be easy.  I have distilled water using a pot still but sometimes that isn't practical.  I think a filter system would be good, for a quick effective way to get drinking water. 

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#12 [url]

Sep 25 11 8:51 AM

Personally I've always ordered from Monolithic, and just mentioned the others as possible additional sources. 

I just checked, and from Monolithic a single dome filter is currently $21.25, with Parcel Post at $8.67 or Priority Mail at $10.20 (to Volcano). 

Two is $42.50, with PP at $10.69, and Priority at $13.20. I always order at least 2 ahead because they have long shelf life.

The other parts I needed for my drip system... buckets, lids, etc. I got at Ace hardware in Ke'eau. I think Hilo carries the same stuff. 

One thing to keep in mind is that, just like distilled water does, rainwater for drinking leaches minerals from your body, and long-term that can cause health problems if ignored. One of my neighbors just had to start taking some mineral supplements for that very reason. The best natural supplement is simply to use only whole, unprocessed sea salt. It's about 82% sodium chloride and the balance is minerals and inert organics vs. 99.9% sodium chloride and no minerals for processed salt like Morton's. Seaweed is also good. And though I've never seen an analysis, I suspect that the native Hawaiian red salt, which has red clay added, probably has even a higher mineral content.   

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#13 [url]

Sep 28 11 12:21 PM

There's very useful info on rainwater catchment systems with info specific to Hawai'i from CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) . The book is a free download at CTAHR Rainwater or you can pick up a free hardcopy version at their Hilo office. 

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#14 [url]

Oct 12 11 4:08 PM

I've been using a granulated product called hth, calcium hypochlorite, which I believe I last got at Home Depot, but they do not carry it anymore. Has anybody seen products from hth anywhere on the island?
Maybe wallmart?

I don't usually use household bleach, as it's pretty weak by the time it gets here.

My water purification process consists of a quarterly shock with hypoclorite, one or two # per 10k
gallons, dissolved in a bucket first, then poured in the gutter.

My filtration is extruded carbon, nothing larger than 2 micron, followed by a final, whole-house silver-impregnated Doulton ceramic at .9 micron absolute.  Silver is good for virus. Ceramic is good for all other biologicals, and carbon for chemicals and chlorine.

I used to fight to keep the tank's chlorine at no more than .5 ppm, but finally said fuck-it, as any overdose
will be removed by the carbon filter, and as it outgasses so quickly, the chlorine is almost nothing after a few days anyway. I shock mainly to keep the tank cleaner, and it seems to help the life of the prefilter, when I remember to do it. BTY, I use no cellulose in my filters.

The pressure drop across multiple filters starts around 20#, and filter changes/maintenance begins with a PSID total of 35. I use a positive-displacement pump, as it's more efficient in such an application. Coupled with a PM motor, it doesn't have the starting surge of an AC jet pump. About 150 watts.

So, who's got a line on granulated calcium hypochlorite? I don't want any other adulterants like one might find in the custom spa chems. I can get it on ebay, but as everyone knows, it's the shipping...

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#19 [url]

Dec 14 12 1:07 PM

I was curious about how those of you with a concrete catchment constructed your forms? My experience is limited to a garage/greenhouse along with a driveway. Conventional methods. One thing I realized is how much material is needed for even a small project. I've read about a radial slip form in a book by Ken Kern, to make a cylindrical tank. It doesn't require a lot of building material at all. A pipe driven perpendicular to your base attached to a spoke that pivots a rectangle form. One section at a time until one "story" is made. The spoke is then elevated to begin a new story. Anyone tried something similar?


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#20 [url]

Dec 14 12 1:36 PM

Hopefully Jay will chime in, as he has a seemingly practical technique for making water tanks. Still, as Ken Kern was one of my go-to guys for learning this stuff, I've been intrigued by his slip-form but have never given it a shot. (My pole-house beginnings were largely informed by Kern's drawing and rap. Heh, it was only later that I realized that my poles don't actually imbed in the ground, being that the bedrock is 6 inches below here. 15 years later though, she's stood in some pretty big 'quakes and still keeps the rain off my head.) Anyway, what seems cool about the slip-form is the ability to make circular structures. To be sure, Jay's technique seems to support curvilinear which would even be...groovier. As an aside, a fellow named John Raabe sort of apprenticed with Kern. He's in the northwest and has a very good website:

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