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Jiminri 01-13-2013 11:05 AM

Drinking water test kit suggestions?
Are there affordable, simple, reliable test kits to determine whether the water on board is ok to drink?

I sail on the Chesapeake, mostly long weekends, and can take on enough water (86 gallons) from the marina's water supply (that I trust) to last for most of the trips I would take. The boat, however, was built in '86 and has the original aluminum water tanks and original plumbing.

PO, as called for by the manufacturers instructions, "shocked" the system with bleach each spring and then thoroughly rinsing the whole system by filling then draining the tanks multiple times. Still, he brought jugs of water on board for drinking---a practice I've continued.

I'm just wondering if I added something like a Pur water filter on the galley faucet, or filtered the water through a Brita, whether the water would be fine to drink and thus cut down the buying and lugging of gallon water jugs.

Which leads me back to my original question...any way to easily test the water quality to get a definitive answer?

lancelot9898 01-13-2013 11:25 AM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
For twenty bucks we've had our well water tested by taking a small test sample to the local city water plant. Never had the boat water tested since just prefer to buy bottled water.....maybe should get that tested too. :)

RichH 01-13-2013 11:39 AM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
If you want a 'definitive' answer, the simple answer is NO.

The complicated answer is it will take several DAYS to biologically 'culture' and verify pathogens. Many of the 'wild' or uncommon strains of water borne pathogens can take 'weeks' to assay.
Chemical 'dipstick' to assay for high concentrations of severe toxicants wont help with trace or 'nil' amounts very effectively.

As the 'sanitarians' of the 19th century discovered, (and what developed into the 'kosher' laws since antiquity) simple cleanliness and 'hygiene' (and active common sense) of your water system remains the 'key' to 'safe' water ..... essentially the same process you use to keep your dishes and cookware ..... and water jugs 'clean'.

Best advice I can offer for 'bio concerns' is to filter the 'dock water' before it gets onboard with a 1,2ÁM filter 'certified for the removal of oocysts' or certified for 99.9% removal of 1,2ÁM particles .... and at least once yearly open the tank and 'wash/scrub it' and then rinse, then 'shock sanitize' it with 'clorox' at 4oz. per 10 gallons of water, then rinse. "Cleanliness !!!!!!"

Minnewaska 01-13-2013 09:21 PM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
We attach an activated carbon filter to the fill hose, which gets out odors, chlorine, radon, and other chemicals. It won't reduce bacteria, so we don't drink it. In fact, the system aboard might contain bacteria. We wash, brush teeth and will cook with it, if boiled. To properly test for bacteria, the sample has to be stored correctly and immediate tested. To a mail in exercise. We drink bottled water, stored in gallon jugs.

benesailor 01-13-2013 09:42 PM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
While at my local plumbing and heating store a couple of days ago i noticed a undersink ultra-violet water purification system. I got to talking to the guy and i think i'm going to put one in for the very reasons you listed. I'm always leary of water that has been sitting in my tanks for several weeks. My water always tastes fine just not sure of it's purity.
For $300.00 it has 2 pre filters and a ultra-violet light that will kill just about everything. Additionally it comes in 12v. I would have to manually turn it on for about a minute before use so as not to waste electrical. It's fairly small so i'm pretty sure it will fit fine; just more maintenance in the fall.
I have to do some more research just to make sure it will be durable enough and be capable of killing everything. The guy at the store said people use them in their campers all the time.

Minnewaska 01-13-2013 10:19 PM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
I had a UV filter in a previous home. It was finicky and was told that it wasn't 100% effective. If some bacteria was on the backside of a particle, it could be shielded. Best was a chlorine nuking, but then you needed something to get the chlorine out. Replacing the bulb was expensive.

Silvio 01-14-2013 08:39 AM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
We drink the tap water from our boat regularly. Maintaining free chlorine is all that is necessary for safe drinking water. A cheap package of chlorine test strips is all I use. Free chlorine in your system between 0.5 and 2.0 mg/L is safe to drink and will not have an unpleasant chlorine taste. There are a couple of caveats to this.
1) I drain the water system whenever it will be unused for a week or more
2) I always Keep our fill hose clean, secured when not in use, and regularly treat with chlorine, and it is used for no other purpose.
3) After I fill the water tank and treat the water I wait several hours before testing for residual chlorine, this gives time for the added chlorine to react with the system's metals and be taken up by the 'water demand'.
4) the less we use the water system, the more frequently I shock treat it with high levels of chlorine then flush.
A charcoal filter on the tap makes the water taste better but having residual chlorine ensures the water is safe.

If you decide to stick with bottled water for drinking I would suggest you read a bit about labeling practices and be careful to know what you are getting when you purchase "spring water' or "naturally filtered" water, they are not the same as "purified" water.

Happy (tummy bug free) sailing!

hellosailor 01-14-2013 12:03 PM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
Simple test: drink the water, see if you get sick. Wait, no, try giving it to some pets or not-so-good-friends first. :-)

If you're reluctant to do that, most municipalities or counties will do water analysis for little or no cost for the residents. If you've got some municipal water supply or county health office, try asking them if that's available to you.

Most of the issues they deal with (toxins, minerals) won't be an issue on a boat but wee critters are probably the only concern. And those can be killed (bleach, UV-C, etc.) pretty much routinely without knowing which ones you've got.

kellysails 01-14-2013 01:55 PM

Re: Drinking water test kit suggestions?
I installed on of these. It really has been great and you get about 1000 gallons per filter. You can find much better deals from Defender and others than direct from the manufacturer. We think it is our number ONE best boat add-on of the year. Much better than filling up landfills with water bottles.

Seagull IV X-1F Purifier with Faucet - Water Purifiers and Water Micro Filters - General Ecology

You can additionally use the below water treatment method to take it an extra step. An added bonus of the Seagull water purifier is that it filters out any chlorine from the tank prior to drinking it.

How to Purify Water amount of bleach per gallon

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