Whether you are on a backpacking trip or find yourself in an unplanned emergency situation our first goal is to locate water. Depending on the location this may prove more difficult than ensuring it's potability. Make sure you are familiar with water sources in the area you plan to travel. Looking at topographical maps is always a good idea. Depending on the dates of the map this could help you find water while backpacking. As with other areas of emergency preparedness, make sure to have a backup plan. Water sources can change with time and seasonal changes. Another important aspect of finding water is the lay of the land. Learning the elevational changes of the area and thinking which way the water would travel during a rain can be another way to locate a water source. For the scope of this article, we will assume that a source has been located.
The desalinated water purity is a function of the feed water salinity, membrane selection and recovery ratio. To achieve higher purity a second pass can be added which generally requires re-pumping. Purity expressed as total dissolved solids typically varies from 100 to 400 parts per million (ppm or mg/litre)on a seawater feed. A level of 500 ppm is generally accepted as the upper limit for drinking water, while the US Food and Drug Administration classifies mineral water as water containing at least 250 ppm.
Chlorine is effective against bacteria and most viruses. Norovirus, an intestinal disease that causes diarrhea, is particularly resistant to chlorine and will require the water to sit twice as long instead of the standard 30 minutes before consumption. Giardia, a parasite with a protective coating, will survive in chlorine treated water for 45 minutes before its safe to drink.
The pore size of the filter, usually measured in microns, will determine what will be filtered through. While a standard micron size of 0.2 is small enough to block heavy metals such as lead and copper and large parasites such as Cryptosporidium, it will not block viruses. The National Sanitation Foundation sets a standard for effective water filtration products so look for an NSF stamp when selecting a filter to purchase.
According to a 2007 World Health Organization (WHO) report, 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved drinking water supply; 88% of the 4 billion annual cases of diarrheal disease are attributed to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene, while 1.8 million people die from diarrheal disease each year. The WHO estimates that 94% of these diarrheal disease cases are preventable through modifications to the environment, including access to safe water. Simple techniques for treating water at home, such as chlorination, filters, and solar disinfection, and for storing it in safe containers could save a huge number of lives each year. Reducing deaths from waterborne diseases is a major public health goal in developing countries.
The clarified water is then fed through a high-pressure piston pump into a series of vessels where it is subject to reverse osmosis. The product water is free of 90.00–99.98% of the raw water's total dissolved solids and by military standards, should have no more than 1000–1500 parts per million by measure of electrical conductivity. It is then disinfected with chlorine and stored for later use.
Different RO water filter systems handle a different number of purified gallons in a day. Normally this capacity goes from 50 to 150 Gallons per day and so on. You must identify the amount of water your family needs in a day. For Small families, reverse osmosis with 50 Gallons per day capacity is suggested while for larger families, Whole house Ro system with minimum 75-100 GPD is suggested.