On May 20, 2013, Kyle McGonigle was on a dock on Kentucky's Rough River Lake. A dog swimming nearby yelped, and McGonigle, 36, saw that it was struggling to stay above water. He dove in to save the dog, but both he and the animal drowned, victims of electric-shock drowning (ESD). Cords plugged into an outlet on the dock had slipped into the water and electrified it.
The desalinated water is stabilized to protect downstream pipelines and storage, usually by adding lime or caustic soda to prevent corrosion of concrete-lined surfaces. Liming material is used to adjust pH between 6.8 and 8.1 to meet the potable water specifications, primarily for effective disinfection and for corrosion control. Remineralisation may be needed to replace minerals removed from the water by desalination. Although this process has proved to be costly and not very convenient if it is intended to meet mineral demand by humans and plants. The very same mineral demand that freshwater sources provided previously. For instance water from Israel's national water carrier typically contains dissolved magnesium levels of 20 to 25 mg/liter, while water from the Ashkelon plant has no magnesium. After farmers used this water, magnesium-deficiency symptoms appeared in crops, including tomatoes, basil, and flowers, and had to be remedied by fertilization. Current Israeli drinking water standards set a minimum calcium level of 20 mg/liter. The postdesalination treatment in the Ashkelon plant uses sulfuric acid to dissolve calcite (limestone), resulting in calcium concentration of 40 to 46 mg/liter. This is still lower than the 45 to 60 mg/liter found in typical Israeli fresh water.
Storage – Water from rivers may also be stored in bankside reservoirs for periods between a few days and many months to allow natural biological purification to take place. This is especially important if treatment is by slow sand filters. Storage reservoirs also provide a buffer against short periods of drought or to allow water supply to be maintained during transitory pollution incidents in the source river.
Chlorine can also come in the form of pre-dosed tablets which would be dropped into a container of water and allowed to sit for 30 to 45 minutes while the chemical begins to destroy the pathogens. Water purification tablets are very convenient for those who are traveling overseas or hiking in the wilderness. The convenience of not having to measure the amount of liquid chlorine and being able to carry the lightweight tablets in a backpack have allowed these tablets to gain much popularity among campers, backpackers, humanitarians, and those traveling to areas where clean water is questionable. Read our article on water purification tablets for a detailed guide on how they work and which brands to use.
Water filters can come in smaller, portable forms which are convenient for travel and outdoor activities. Those who go hiking and backpacking often come across bodies of fresh water such lakes and rivers. While lakes and rivers are considered fresh in comparison to the seawater, they still need to be filtered before drinking due to the presence of sediment and potential bacteria. Having a portable water filter handy will eliminate the worry of ingesting harmful contaminants such as bacteria, parasites, sedimentary rock. Read our article on portable water filters for a detailed guide on how they work and which brands to use.
A Solar Still is a device that can be constructed in order to distill contaminated water into drinking water, or to pull condensation from damp resources in order to produce enough water for consumption. Solar stills can be a life-saving device if stranded in the desert without water or if lost at sea. This simple device uses the sun to evaporate contaminated water from a collection basin and collect the condensation in another basin. The condensation is essentially distilled and drinkable. It can be done with saltwater and can even be constructed to pull moisture from the ground if water isn't available at all. Solar stills can either be constructed out of simple materials or purchased and used for emergency. To learn how to make a solar still in a survival situation or to purchase one in case of emergency, read our detailed article about solar stills here.
The most common disinfection method involves some form of chlorine or its compounds such as chloramine or chlorine dioxide. Chlorine is a strong oxidant that rapidly kills many harmful micro-organisms. Because chlorine is a toxic gas, there is a danger of a release associated with its use. This problem is avoided by the use of sodium hypochlorite, which is a relatively inexpensive solution used in household bleach that releases free chlorine when dissolved in water. Chlorine solutions can be generated on site by electrolyzing common salt solutions. A solid form, calcium hypochlorite, releases chlorine on contact with water. Handling the solid, however, requires more routine human contact through opening bags and pouring than the use of gas cylinders or bleach, which are more easily automated. The generation of liquid sodium hypochlorite is inexpensive and also safer than the use of gas or solid chlorine. Chlorine levels up to 4 milligrams per liter (4 parts per million) are considered safe in drinking water.
One way to disinfect water through solar purification is through the use of plastic bottles and sunlight. Remove all labels and paper from the bottles and ensure they have no scratches. Fill them with water to about three quarters full, shake for a half-minute to activate the oxygen, fill with water to the brim, cover, and then lay it horizontally and expose to direct sunlight (Water Benefits Health).
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process that uses a partially permeable membrane to remove ions, unwanted molecules and larger particles from drinking water. In reverse osmosis, an applied pressure is used to overcome osmotic pressure, a colligative property that is driven by chemical potential differences of the solvent, a thermodynamic parameter. Reverse osmosis can remove many types of dissolved and suspended chemical species as well as biological ones (principally bacteria) from water, and is used in both industrial processes and the production of potable water. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other side. To be "selective", this membrane should not allow large molecules or ions through the pores (holes), but should allow smaller components of the solution (such as solvent molecules, i.e., water, H2O) to pass freely.
In recent years, energy consumption has dropped to around 3 kWh/m3, with the development of more efficient energy recovery devices and improved membrane materials. According to the International Desalination Association, for 2011, reverse osmosis was used in 66% of installed desalination capacity (0.0445 of 0.0674 km³/day), and nearly all new plants. Other plants mainly use thermal distillation methods: multiple-effect distillation and multi-stage flash.
Granular Activated Carbon adsorption: a form of activated carbon with a high surface area, adsorbs many compounds including many toxic compounds. Water passing through activated carbon is commonly used in municipal regions with organic contamination, taste or odors. Many household water filters and fish tanks use activated carbon filters to further purify the water. Household filters for drinking water sometimes contain silver as metallic silver nanoparticle. If water is held in the carbon block for longer periods, microorganisms can grow inside which results in fouling and contamination. Silver nanoparticles are excellent anti-bacterial material and they can decompose toxic halo-organic compounds such as pesticides into non-toxic organic products. Filtered water must be used soon after it is filtered, as the low amount of remaining microbes may proliferate over time. In general, these home filters remove over 90% of the chlorine available to a glass of treated water. These filters must be periodically replaced otherwise the bacterial content of the water may actually increase due to the growth of bacteria within the filter unit.
An increasingly popular method of cleaning windows is the so-called "water-fed pole" system. Instead of washing the windows with detergent in the conventional way, they are scrubbed with highly purified water, typically containing less than 10 ppm dissolved solids, using a brush on the end of a long pole which is wielded from ground level. Reverse osmosis is commonly used to purify the water.
The other half of the tag team is to eliminate pollutants. The best way to do this is with a homemade carbon filter. This uses the same technology as Brita filters. Carbon is a chemically active substance, with a tendency to bind to most anything. At a microscopic level, charcoal is a heavily pitted and striated material, which vastly increases its real surface area. The result is that when water slowly runs over charcoal, pollutants find themselves glued to the charcoal surface. An improvised filter can be made out of ground-up charcoal, a strainer and a funnel. Bear Gryllis made a purification drinking straw out of little more than a reed and some charcoal bits for the Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild." It's a simple technique, but it is highly effective.
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."
The install took about 30 minutes to an hour working by myself. Most of the components are already connected together with most of the hookup being connecting the 3 large filters to the small filters and then the external hoses. The toughest part was installing the faucet but only because of my under sink area and working by myself. I did add a splitter to go to my refrigerator but it was easy to integrate.
The process of distilling seawater into drinking water has been used by the Ancient Greeks since about 200 AD (Wikipedia). Many cultures throughout history have used distillation as an effective method of ensuring potable water. Although the materials used in the distillation process have changed over time, the science has remained the same, proving that distillation is a purification method that has stood the test of time.