All forms of chlorine are widely used, despite their respective drawbacks. One drawback is that chlorine from any source reacts with natural organic compounds in the water to form potentially harmful chemical by-products. These by-products, trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), are both carcinogenic in large quantities and are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate in the UK. The formation of THMs and haloacetic acids may be minimized by effective removal of as many organics from the water as possible prior to chlorine addition. Although chlorine is effective in killing bacteria, it has limited effectiveness against pathogenic protozoa that form cysts in water such as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium.
The cellulose triacetate membrane is prone to rotting unless protected by chlorinated water, while the thin film composite membrane is prone to breaking down under the influence of chlorine. A thin film composite (TFC) membrane is made of synthetic material, and requires chlorine to be removed before the water enters the membrane. To protect the TFC membrane elements from chlorine damage, carbon filters are used as pre-treatment in all residential reverse osmosis systems. TFC membranes have a higher rejection rate of 95–98% and a longer life than CTA membranes.
A reverse osmosis water purification unit (ROWPU) is a portable, self-contained water treatment plant. Designed for military use, it can provide potable water from nearly any water source. There are many models in use by the United States armed forces and the Canadian Forces. Some models are containerized, some are trailers, and some are vehicles unto themselves.
Information from Aquamira: "One unit will filter up to 20 gallons (75L) of water. Tests indicate that the Frontier Filter will remove 99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia. The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is also easy to operate, just attach and expand the straw, submerge the filter end into the water source, and drink through the straw."
Cut the bottom of a plastic bottle off -- these can be found almost everywhere at no cost. Replace the bottle cap with a cheesecloth/fine cloth, tied on with a rubber band and secure. Place it on a cup, with the cloth facing towards the ground. Put fine sand, charcoal, coarse sand and rocks in the bottle in the order listed. Pour water inside. Capture the water that has now been purified.
Found on small or moderate-size streams and rivers, low-head dams are used to regulate water flow or prevent invasive species from swimming upstream. But watch out. "They're called drowning machines because they could not be designed better to drown people," says Kevin Colburn of American Whitewater, a nonprofit whitewater preservation group. To a boater heading downstream, the dams look like a single line of flat reflective water. But water rushing over the dam creates a spinning cylinder of water that can trap a capsized boater.
Despite its efficiency in killing microorganisms, UV radiation will not remove heavy metals and particles. Something else to consider is the high maintenance requirement for a UV purification system. Frequent cleaning and proper part replacement are necessary requirements in maintaining a properly functioning system. Read our article on UV water purification systems for home to find out more.
Filters have to be changed after every 6-12 months and RO-Membrane demands to change after every 2-3 years. The maintenance depends on the source of your water. If your water is more contaminated you may need to change it more than once every 6-12 months. The best part is transparent housing that helps you to identify the time when filters need to be changed.
Bioremediation is a technique that uses microorganisms in order to remove or extract certain waste products from a contaminated area. Since 1991 bioremediation has been a suggested tactic to remove impurities from water such as alkanes, perchlorates, and metals. The treatment of ground and surface water, through bioremediation, with respect to perchlorate and chloride compounds, has seen success as perchlorate compounds are highly soluble making it difficult to remove. Such success by use of Dechloromonas agitata strain CKB include field studies conducted in Maryland and the Southwest region of the United States. Although a bioremediation technique may be successful, implementation is not feasible as there is still much to be studied regarding rates and after effects of microbial activity as well as producing a large scale implementation method.
Some water supplies may also contain disinfections by-products, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides. Specialized methods for controlling formation or removing them can also be part of water treatment. To learn more about the different treatments for drinking water, see the National Drinking Water Clearinghouse’s Fact Sheet Series on Drinking Water TreatmentsExternal.
Advantage is that you are not adding any chemicals to your water, which takes out the guess work as far as dosage. The disadvantage, if it can even be called that, is that you have to have a source of heat(fire, stove, etc.) in order to bring the water to the boiling point. Also we have to remember that this does not remove chemical such as petroleum or pesticides which can be harmful as well.
Disinfection is accomplished both by filtering out harmful micro-organisms and by adding disinfectant chemicals. Water is disinfected to kill any pathogens which pass through the filters and to provide a residual dose of disinfectant to kill or inactivate potentially harmful micro-organisms in the storage and distribution systems. Possible pathogens include viruses, bacteria, including Salmonella, Cholera, Campylobacter and Shigella, and protozoa, including Giardia lamblia and other cryptosporidia. After the introduction of any chemical disinfecting agent, the water is usually held in temporary storage – often called a contact tank or clear well – to allow the disinfecting action to complete.
Ultraviolet light (UV) is very effective at inactivating cysts, in low turbidity water. UV light's disinfection effectiveness decreases as turbidity increases, a result of the absorption, scattering, and shadowing caused by the suspended solids. The main disadvantage to the use of UV radiation is that, like ozone treatment, it leaves no residual disinfectant in the water; therefore, it is sometimes necessary to add a residual disinfectant after the primary disinfection process. This is often done through the addition of chloramines, discussed above as a primary disinfectant. When used in this manner, chloramines provide an effective residual disinfectant with very few of the negative effects of chlorination.