Darrell Nicholson

Raritan’s Vacuflush Distributors Offer Free Lake Water Cleaning Tips 

Raritan Engineering your Vacuflush suppliers would like to share with you this week information regarding how to make lake water drinkable.

Reader David Brezina, who sails a Tartan Ten out of Montrose Harbor, Chicago recently had a question for Practical Sailor regarding drinking water. Like many Great Lake sailors who race seriously, or who own boats that were once raced, his boat has had its permanent water tank removed. After all, when you sail on a virtually limitless supply of drinking water why bother with a water tank?

Brezina wondered if the General Ecology QC2 filter we reviewed in August (see “Effective, Affordable Water Filters,” PS October 2013) would be enough to make the lake water safe for drinking.

The short answer is “probably,” but to be safe we’d take a couple extra steps. Theoretically, a filter that meets the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) P231 standards will be sufficient to make Lake Michigan drinkable (see “Making Sense of Water Filter Certification,” PS August 2016). A more effective (but more expensive) choice would be to use a filter that meets the more stringent NSF 53 standard. Although the General Ecology filter that you are referring to is not certified to either standard, the maker has had it independently tested “over the years” to ensure it meets or exceeds NSF 53. Many Great Lake sailors use manual or battery-operated water purifiers that campers and hikers use in the back country. These products, typically certified to P231, are usually low-volume systems like the Steri-pen (See “SteriPEN Portable UV Water Purifier,” September 2008). 

Your Vacuflush Suppliers Give Answers to the Concerns You Might Have Toward Drinking Lake Water

Your Vacuflush manufacturers discuss how although these portable systems have proven effective in making lake and river water safe for drinking, a cost-effective way to be even more certain that your drinking water meets safe drinking water standards is to follow the three-step process that we outlined in our series on treating onboard drinking water. 

First, you need to prefilter the water to remove dirt before it goes into the tank. The 1-micron Baja Filter that we wrote about in 2015 is a favorite tool for this, but we looked at various other filters that will prevent solids from getting into the tank (see “Water Tank Filters,” PS June 2015). Clean water is required for the next essential step, chlorine treatment.

Chlorine treatment will kill viruses and bacteria. Although regular liquid chlorine will work, it isn’t ideal for storing aboard. We found pool and spa chlorination tabs to be a convenient alternative for chlorinating tank waters (see “Keeping Water Clean and Fresh,” PS July 2015). 

Although this multistep step process might seem like overkill, it is very similar to that used by municipalities that draw their water from the Great Lakes. It is still possible that naturally occurring algae blooms can introduce toxins that these steps won’t catch, but this is very unlikely. 

Fortunately most areas of the Great Lakes remain relatively pristine and are a safe sources of drinking water that is easily treated on board a sailboat. 

Visit us at Raritan Engineering and see how we always take care of your marine sanitation needs. 

via Making Lake Water Safe to Drink Onboard