Touring - Where do you get water?
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05-08-07, 03:36 PM
On long stretches between spots of civilization, where do you get water if you run out?
I've only done a few small tours (but hoping to more this summer) and we have been successful in asking motorists if they have any extra water with them. We have also stopped at houses and asked.
One time in a "remote" area on Hwy 92 between Gunnison and Montrose, CO we had to camp at a rest area overlooking the Morrow Point Reservior. One guy gave us a gallon of water, explaining that someone had helped him out when his vehicle broke down a few days ago, and now it was his turn to help someone out.
Another time we were touring in Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, and a guy pulled over and offered us water.
Does anyone take a water filter along?
We want to tour the San Jauns this summer, but we know that some of the water in the area there is affected by mining runoff and may not be worth filtering. It would be heavy to carry a lot of water over those big passes....
05-08-07, 03:44 PM
well it really really really depends where you are going... if you are taking water from lakes or streams its best to treat it before drinking. You can either boil it for a few minutes, which kills organic stuff, but leaves in chemical and sediment, or you can use water tablets which kill organic matter and neutralizes some chemicals (iirc) but leave in sediment, but aren't really a great idea if you're drinking it consistently over a long period, or there are water filters which range widely in effectiveness and price, and are generally a huge pain to use (you have to keep pumping and pumping and pumping!). If you are in the desert you'll need a large resevoir. If you're in the snow you'll need lots of gas for melting the snow. If you're anywhere near civilization you can ask for water.
05-08-07, 04:00 PM
05-08-07, 09:23 PM
I've done many tours in extremely remote places -
From the deserts of Arizona and Nevada up to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
There are three basic positions on water that have changed over the past twenty years.
1. Most people can drink most natural water without treatment.
2. Flowing water needs to be treated, but campground and town sources are O.K.
3. Even many park and rural water sources fail to meet current water standards.
Regarding #1 -
here is a scholarly article on the incidence of Giardia and the incidence of effects:
The reality is that federal water safety levels permit low levels -
And we all consume them without harm
Thus, water close to a source is most likely O.K.
Regarding #2 -
Flowing water needs to be treated less because of giardia
And more because of cows grazing on public lands - e-coli, bacteria, pesticides, etc.
As water standards have increased, forest service campgrounds and local parks have been forced to cap their wells because they cannot justify the cost to upgrade. This is a real bummer for cyclists. I can't tell you how many campgrounds that used to have drinking water 15 years ago no longer have it.
Regarding #3 -
Even campgrounds that do have water will now have signs saying that it must be boiled. This usually reflects more stringent testing standards - although it can be a localized contamination. Doesn't hurt to ask in town at the forest service or BLM office about water sources - and if restricted - the nature of the problem. I've had rangers tell me that one test all summer was barely over the limit - a level which was perfectly acceptable in the 1980s.
Of course with any of these situations - the choice rests with you.
As for treating water -
The best treatment is:
1. A water filter - Katadyn Hiker - lightweight and easy to use. Best taste.
2. Boiling - but you have to let it cool overnight - wastes a lot of fuel.
3. Iodine tablets - tastes yucky - good for emergencies -
take a couple of packe of lemonade to cover the taste.
Remember that cow tanks are a great emergency source of water -
Look for the windmills - if it's public land, it's fine to go out to them -
BUT - make sure to reclose any and all gates!!!
No - you don't drink from the cow tank -
You get water from the outlet pipe as the windmill is pumping it up the well.
I have had some of the coolest, sweetest water at cow tanks.
05-10-07, 09:28 AM
It totally depends on where you are travelling. Taps and fountains with drinking water are very common in France, Spain and Portugal and in Morocco there are lots of wells. You may want to take precaution with the wells, but mostly if we saw a lot of people collecting water there we didn't worry. Local people will quickly tell you if water is not good! We do have a water filter for emergencies but rarely use it. Unless you are really out in the middle of nowhere there is almost always someone to ask. I would not hesitate to ask someone for water from their home if I was really in need. Have only needed to do that once though.
05-11-07, 02:26 PM
someone post a link to the gravity-based water filter. no pumping! its just a big bag and you only gotta hang it up and wait.
If you think that you may need to get water from sources other than a water tap, then I recommend bringing along some treatment.
For the occassional use, Katadyn MicroPur tablets or Polar Pur are lightweight and work just fine. Like all chemicals, just wait 30 minutes or so before drinking.
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