When in Mexico, “Don’t drink the water”

Contamination in water

For years I use to hear people jokingly say when in Mexico, “don’t drink the water”.  When I was in the military, I got a better understanding of what they were talking about. Water contamination is broad throughout the world.

Whether you’re in the back country of the United States or in some third world country, water purification should be an important consideration. For a prepper, it could even be for sheltering in place after a storm or an accidental water main break during road construction.

Even the local fire department testing water flow at area hydrants can generate a “Boil water Alert”. As a rule of thumb I like to have several full 5 gallon water jugs for my pets and a case of bottle water per person currently residing in my household just for such events.

Purification Techniques

There are several techniques for water purification; heating, filtration, active charcoal adsorption, chemical disinfection, ultra violet purification, distillation and flocculation.

Flocculation is the process where colloids come out of suspension in the form of floc or flake. Wikipedia has a very good article explaining water purification is your interested.

Training is available

If you’re a survivalist, an outdoorsman or just like to take vacation to other countries then you might have been exposed to Travelers diarrhea, or Wilderness diarrhea. There is an organization called the National Outdoor Leadership school which teaches classes on this issue.

They stress these important issues:

  • Treating un-purified drinking water.
  • Routinely washing hands with soap and water after defecation or urination.
  • Cleaning cooking and eating utensils with soap and warm water using a three bowl cleaning system.
  • Bury human waste 60 meters or 200 ft away from your water source. While training in Panama’s jungle back in the 80’s I remember coming across an infantry line company set up along a stream. I saw soldiers bathing up-stream and other guys filling canteens down stream.

Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t been peeing in your water supply. The more human contamination and area has, the more reason to purify your drinking water. Even in the great outdoors someone or something can be contaminating your drinking water.

Industrial accidents

In 2015, the EPA subcontractors “accidentally” released millions of gallons of tainted mine water into the Animas river in Colorado turning the water yellow and ruining the drinking water for an Indian reservation down stream. Below ground contamination can even affect your well water.

Usually as an outdoors person, soldier or survivalist you generally think “Light” when carrying stuff so what are your options.

You could do water purification tablets, chemical disinfectant (chlorine or bleach) or distillation but it is time-consuming and not good if you’re thirsty now and on the move.

Purification Methods

Same problem with boiling water. Smoke and light give away your position and it takes time to set up and get to temperature. Boil for 1 minute, 3 minutes if you are at an elevation greater than 6500 ft and it does not remove most pollutants.

So the quickest way is with a hand pump reverse osmosis filtration system. There are many companies offering these systems like Katadyn which offers a Hiker and Vario multi-flow micro-filter system. The benefit of these systems is that the water is usable right away with no waiting for it to do its job. Just be sure to maintain it.

If you don’t mind a short wait, for the money the Berkey water purification systems are best in my opinion. For the money, They are the best value and require very little maintenance. The new Sport-Berkey bottle will give instant purified water for on the go. At $49.00, It’s a deal!

Like anything some users have had issues with filtering products but over all Berkey has had Excellent reviews and customer service.

Like the guy in the Mexican beer commercial says; ” Stay thirsty my friends”. Be sure to follow our blog for more informative articles.

Ralph Tcat

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