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Thread: Using pool water for emergency drinking

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Using pool water for emergency drinking

    If anyone here has contemplated using pool water for emergency drinking, I've done a fair bit of research on it.

    I'm not what you'd consider what folks these days are calling "preppers," however I am a very pragmatic, conservative degreed mechanical engineer, that also happens to be an Eagle Scout.

    More than 36 years ago, when I earned my Eagle Award (Scouting's Highest Achievement and Honor), little did I know what I learned back then, about Emergency Preparedness, would be mocked, or over-looked as some sort of doomsdayish sort of thinking. I don't particularly like the labels of preppers for a lot of reasons. But we learned simply about being prepared for a lot of things that are frequently over-looked by people in an every day rush to "live their lives" gets you into the sort of trouble that can be easily avoided with some planning and preparation. Its what some of us call common sense, growing up, and being responsible citizens and adults. For example, many flood aftermath victims of Sandy, could be avoiding a lot of the problems they face, via basic emergency preparedness.

    Thinking about having pure and clean drinking water is just not something that comes top of mind, unless you've been through a disaster or gone to some country like Mexico, drank their water, and then experienced painful diarheeria or worse total dehydration. We take clean water for granted here mostly in the US.

    But just like having health insurance, car insurance, or homeowners insurance, being prepared to have pure and safe drinking water, no matter the situation is simply sound and practical thinking. Why ? Because if you wait until you need it most, when you don't have it, your life can become quite the disaster and make ANY natural disaster 100 times worse for you, than your neighbor(s).

    Anyway, there are a number of credible sources on the topic, but if you have the right purification (not just filtering and there is a huge difference between those two words when it comes to drinking water), your pool is able to be used as any other water source the government, Homeland Security, and other credible and informed sources recommend.

    Probably the most practical purification for emergencies, particularly if you have a family, is a gravity fed water purifying system, that can also be used for daily drinking during non-emergency situations. Berkey and its predecessor Doulton, provide systems that purify up to Log 7 water quality, remove chlorine, and many harmful chemicals including flouride, MTBE, VOC's, arsenic, and all sorts of bacteria and viruses down to micron levels and make the water far cleaner than what you get out of your tap, even with your own separately purchased common carbon or RO filtration.

    Flouride is a major contributor to a lot of illnesses and health problems, yet people accept drinking it everyday. Tap water and toothpaste being your biggest source of exposure.

    Anyway, when I prepare or plan for the unexpected, I look for useful 'tools' or devices that have multiple everyday practical uses. (as much as possible). That way, its no big deal to using them when disaster strikes, and the family takes it all in stride, and hardly notices much in the way of lifestyle changes. Of course some changes are going to happen, but why have the most important element for the human body's survival, be up in the air and in jeopardy at any time ? Having a Berkey system (or other appropriate gravity fed, with appropriate purification) can provide you with the best and most pure potable water, economically, for everyday drinking, coffee, and cooking, while also being perfect to filter your pool water if that day were to ever come. Their Black Burkey's (cartridges) will last 6000 gallons or longer, and the replacement costs are going to be less than any other system or especially bottled water that most people buy, and then pollute the planet with plastic bottles. You can add separate PF2 flouride and arsenic filters within the same system.

    For around $300 for an entire system, (which mostly looks like a large cafeteria style stainless coffee pot) (and most of you pool owners drop $300 or more in a heartbeat on many pool related items) the value of pure and safe drinking water at all times is absolutely priceless.

    And you will likely never need it for an emergency depending where you live, but using it everyday might still actually save your life, since it purifies water to levels most people rarely ever experience.

    After something like Hurricane Sandy where it's evident they are having problems with getting everything from water to fuel for vehicles, power to heat their homes, while its top of mind and you see the desperation, now is probably the best time ever to actually act, and do it. Otherwise you will procrastinate, put it off, and never take action. Make the investment in your health and safety. Its water related. You LOVE water. You know its value ! You are a pool owner !

    And I know pool owners like here at this forum are very health and safety conscious, especially the ones concerned about chlorine on the EXTERIOR of their bodies, who use the BBB method. As always, do your own research, and don't exclusively rely on what I am suggesting here.

    P.S. and your pool might also become known as a valuable neighborhood preparedness resource in a time of emergency, and not just for being the best people on the block who have awesome pool parties. ! (of course you'll have to educate your neighbors to invest in their own gravity feed purification system). That's not a bad thing either.
    Lazy-L Pool, vinyl liner, 29,000 gallons, 8 ft deep end, 18'ft wide, ~46' on longest side. 796 total square footage. Hayward 250kbtu heater, Hayward Cartridge filter, in-line chlorinator,Bioguard 1" silk Tabs. Hayward 2 speed 1.5 hp pump. Solar cover.

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    San Rafael, CA USA

    Re: Using pool water for emergency drinking

    See also Pool water safe to drink in emergencies? and Using the pool as a reservoir in case of emergency...... The Berkey Water Filter is great at removing very small pathogens including viruses, bacteria and protozoan oocysts as well as the traditional organics removed from adsorption (as with other filters' activated carbon), but it does not remove salt. The salt (sodium chloride) level in saltwater chlorine generator pools is typically around 3000 ppm. Also, for pools that have 50 ppm borates (essentially boric acid) it is not clear that the filter will remove this chemical (I don't think it does).

    Disaster preparedness folks recommend storing bottled water, but if one does not have that then they suggest using water in the hot water heater (turn off the cold water input to prevent contamination from broken water lines as with an earthquake). A 50 gallon hot water heater would give a family of four 25 days of drinking water assuming 2 quarts per person per day. Of course, if one had a multi-stage RO or RO/DI system, then even the salt (and borate) content can be significantly reduced with systems running around $200. With swimming pool water that is chlorinated, there is less concern for surviving pathogens (and Crypto is very rare in residential pools since it is only introduced with a sick individual with diarrhea).

    For long-term drinking water you do want some minerals in the water so don't want to use DI or a very strong RO, but for emergencies it's fine, especially for something like pool water that is high in TDS (salt, hardness and possibly borates).
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Houston, TX

    Re: Using pool water for emergency drinking

    Having survived multiple major hurricanes, I think some fairly robust system would be needed to handle cleaning the water to drinkable levels. It is normal to have the pool bottom covered with about 1-2 feet of tree debris, some shingles, some fiberglass insulation, dead roaches, dead small animal (squirrel, cat, opossum, raccoon, whatever) possibly sewage backup, fertilizer/chemical run off. This is normally followed by 5-15 days without power (expected by us, feelings of disbelief felt by Sandy victims) where all of this organic and inorganic material stews into a lovely soup.
    Intex UltraFrame 14'x48in - 3,900 gallons. Intex 1600 GPH combo Sand Filter/SWG Hard Plumbed w/Hayward skimmer, suction & return. Borates.
    And... 15k gallon kidney shaped gunite 1975 vintage. Hayward DE3620 filter + Hayward 750 pump.
    TF100 Test Kit | Pool School | Pool Math

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    X-PertPool's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Exeter, PA

    Re: Using pool water for emergency drinking

    I think I might drain the hot water tank into a Brita filter and hope for the best.
    X-Pert Pool Service
    X-Pert Pool on Facebook and @XPertPoolServic on Twitter
    22,000 gal / 16' x 32' / Vinyl / Hayward s244t /Pentair SuperFlo 1 hp

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