Drinking Water-Part Two

>> Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The state of Kentucky has been in the news for the past week due to the worst ice storm in the state’s history.  Thousands are still without electricity and many are without drinking water.  We don’t often think of the vulnerability of our water supply but due to a loss of electricity many communities are without water because their water pumps won’t work. 

Do many of us have some sort of means or plan to cope with such an emergency?  I discussed in Part One a bit about water distillers and a great deal about a reverse osmosis system.  Both are great if we have power and/or water in the pipes.  Distillers take power to heat the water to produce steam which is turned back into pure water.  Reverse osmosis systems require a flow of water.  What do we do if neither is available?

There is a system that has been around for over 150 years, has been used in over 140 countries by missionaries, the Red Cross, the Peace Corp and others.  It requires no power or does not have to be attached to the water pipes.  It uses good old gravity and ceramic filters. 

Although the British Berkefeld brand is known worldwide their best known unit it what most have probably heard of, the Big Berkey.  We purchased one this past summer and although it can be used on a regular basis we will continue to use our reverse osmosis system for most of our drinking water, unless we have an emergency.  Since the only well on the property has a high sulfur content we are concerned about the possible loss of our public water.  We capture rain water from the roof but it has various contaminants in it which we would prefer to filter out.  The Big Berkey does a beautiful job.  But it does require manual filling and draining.  The RO system is more convenient as long as the public water is flowing.

Berkey The photo to the left is one taken from an advertisement.  As you can see the unit is compact.  It holds a bit over 2 gallons of water at a time.  Our unit has two black filters, although for processing more water an additional two could be added.  The filters can be cleaned and reused for many, many gallons of water.

Jan      25th-26th 002In the picture on the right you can see the two black filters.  There is but a bit of water in the tank.  The Big Berkey is able to not only remove most contaminates it can filter water from the most polluted rivers and lakes if necessary.  When Henry Doulton first developed ceramic filters for removing bacteria from drinking water it was used to remove the contaminants from the water of the Thames River in London, which was contaminated with raw sewage.  At that time cholera and typhoid epidemics were rampant because people were drinking the contaminated water.

If we should lose our public water supply we are prepared to filter rain water, sulfur well water or creek water with our Big Berkey.  What will you do if you should lose your water supply?


Juri February 5, 2009 at 1:49 AM  

Thanks so much for this information! We have no public water and depend on our well (and pump) for everything! I had never heard of the Big Berkey, but I will now certainly look into it!


Big Berkey February 5, 2009 at 5:33 AM  

Good Article. The Big Berkey has been a lifesaver for me. I sent it to some of my family members affected by the coal ash spill in december for these same reasons. Great product!

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