Muddy river and dam water use

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 12:42
ThreadID: 139671 Views:1149 Replies:5 FollowUps:11
Later this year we're heading to outback NSW. Naturally, with water restrictions in place we are not sure about filling our tanks and drums from some of these remote towns. Just wondering if it is a common practice for people to take water from the rivers and lakes even though they're often muddy and self treat it on site. Not for the tanks but washup and showers only.

Thanks fellas,
Croc
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Reply By: Sneaky Pete - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 12:53

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 12:53
Hi I suppose it depends on where you are going .
If towns have Bore Water probably not as big a problem.

For washing ourself most of the the time if very remote we bird bath or swim in river.
Also are very sparing on wash up Use a Spray bottle and washing up liquid to clean plates etc

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Follow Up By: Croc099 - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 12:59

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 12:59
Thanks Pete, I'll check whether bores are available. We swim in rivers ourselves rather than shower but unfortunately, rivers like the Darling are quite turbid and muddy.
Croc
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Follow Up By: rumpig - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 14:47

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 14:47
Was at Wilcannia a couple of days ago, and whilst the river may not look great the grass at the caravan park was lush and green. They have no issues running sprinklers there 7 days a week, so I can only assume it is bore water they were pumping out there. Their showers were fantastic with a better then I have at home in Brisbane water pressure, they didn’t seem very concerned about conserving water.
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Follow Up By: Croc099 - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 15:48

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 15:48
Thanks, that's good to know. I was a little worried about rocking up to a tap and filling my tanks. Even paying for it.
Croc
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 14:33

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 14:33
Hi Croc

We have done this with increadable results, and will bring muddy water to the clarity as rain water.

Have a look at this blog that I did.

If for drinking, you would want to sterlise the water to be safe.


Cheers


Stephen
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Follow Up By: Croc099 - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 15:44

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 15:44
Thanks Stephen,

I'm familiar with treatment processes. I was more asking whether people actually do this to any great extent or whether it is even needed. I haven't been to the really isolated parts for any length of time and this will be the first. Just a bit concerned about water availability. Especially if we stop between villages for more than a day or two.

Very decent of you to write up a blog entry. I'd be inclined to try PAC or Alum as the flocculant though. Magnesium Sulphate can make the water a little hard and is sensitive to pH. Could try adding a small amount of bi-carb or soda ash to speed things up a little and raise pH. Unfortunately, it's easy to overdose with the Alum so care needed.
Croc
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 16:09

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 16:09
We just used it for showering
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Follow Up By: qldcamper - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 17:35

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 17:35
Steven,
Have used your method several times since reading your blog and it works well.
I use four 10 litre buckets to settle it over night, filling them and adding the salts is the first thing i do after reaching the have a beer stage of setting up, also add a teaspoon of cheap aldi bleach to kill off any nasties. Only use it for showering but it is so good on a cold night to know you can enjoy as long a hot shower as you want with an unlimited shower water supply.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 18:41

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 18:41
That’s. Great to hear and happy that you have received the same results as I have.
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Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 06:44

Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 06:44
I'd be a bit worried about using Epsom Salts for drinking water. Epsom Salts is a hell of a good laxative.
Keith
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Follow Up By: Croc099 - Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 08:41

Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 08:41
Keith, hopefully we won't be drinking it due to the unknown quantity of pathogens in the water which coagulation won't remove. With the correct dose the coagulant will precipitate along with the agglomerated colloids. The process is highly dependant on pH which isn't easy to measure from the back of a tent. In the uncontrolled camping environment I'd only consider the water useful for the shower and washup. Drinking it only if desperate and disinfected first.

At least my original query has been answered in that I can see that the method does appear to be used in a camping situation. Looks like I'll be taking a cliplock bag of Alum and soda ash with me to the outback and will likely make a portable sand filter. Thanks everybody for your input.
Croc
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Follow Up By: Member - Harry C - Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 12:32

Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 12:32
Have used the ash from fire for similar result. Just clears the water no sterilization.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 19:33

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 19:33
A 0.5um filter will remove colloidal clay from water, but the volume of the clay will quickly block the filter.
The stuff to use to settle the colloidal clay is alum. Cheap from Bunnings and the like and sold for swimming pools for this precise purpose. It is a flocculant and the "crud" settles out on the bottom and the clear water can be poured off the top. Only a tiny amount is required.
We carry some in the OKA for this purpose, but avoid the need if possible.
We then treat all of our water with chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) prior to filtering with a 5um sediment filter and a 0.5um carbon/silver filter. It is all then safe to drink.
Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 09:20

Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 09:20
An added comment.
I suggest it is also worthwhile chlorinating water that will "only" be used for showers.
legionella bacteria grows well in warm water (including and probably especially that held in tanks) and is best transferred to the body by breathing in the misted water in a shower.
It is one of those things where the chances are low but the consequences are very bad indeed.
Swimming in the same water has less risk than showering in it.
Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: Cheryl & Ian (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 17:01

Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 17:01
We use Alum on cloudy water such as from the Darling. You only need a couple of teaspoons for several litres of water. Leave it for a number of hours and the water is crystal clear with all the sediment on the bottom. We use the water for showers and washing up.

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Feb 16, 2020 at 22:11

Sunday, Feb 16, 2020 at 22:11
Living on the Diamantina River, some years back now, we needed to clear dam water for domestic use, on a regular basis. Maybe 50K litres every fortnight. We only used Alum Sulphate, but once the water was clear, I’d add some Hydrated Lime to neutralise the water to some degree. This cleared water was used for showering, washing & cooking, but advised staff not to drink it. However, on odd occasions, a staff member would present with a dose of the trots! Never used any sterilising agents in over 20 years.

For rapid & efficient floccing, or is it flocking, we’d dissolve the alum in hot water first, then pour this into the muddy water. The mud would start to seperate almost immediately, and a 45KL tank would be clear enough to use in 4-6 hours.

Have also cleared small quantities using cement powder, calcium carbide, ferrite of iron, ash & Epsom salts.

Bob

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