Water, water every where but not a drop to drink.

Water is on my mind.  I’m starting to see talk on the chemical spill in West Virginia with references to water filtration.  This motivated me to do some research and find some answers.

– Chemical spills are a huge challenge as a business and as a resident.  They can contaminate earth, water and air leaving behind a swathe of illness, death and long-term impact. –


– Brian Clark Howard National Geographic PUBLISHED JANUARY 14, 2014

Some 300,000 West Virginians have endured severe water restrictions thanks to a chemical spill in the Elk River, triggering an ongoing environmental investigation.

Although the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCMH) spilled into the river is not a typical environmental contaminant, the 5,000 gallons lost in the incident have lessons to teach, say experts, about our vulnerable and aging water infrastructure. –

First question: Was it safe to filter that water and then drink it?  No, I think not.  There are only a few chemicals known to be removable by filtration systems.  The national sanitation foundation (NSF) has approved filtration systems that remove contaminates and chemicals but read and research for the whole story.  A carbon filter used in conjunction with a reverse osmosis filter that are approved by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) will remove a great number of issues. Yet these filter systems are limited.  They are built based on known contaminates; known sanitation system weaknesses.  I don’t find any notations that 4-methylcyclohexane methanol falls into the known contaminates. I would have erred on safety and not used the system without having the ability to test the water on a regular basis for all components of the mixture that is 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.

Second Question: Would a camping filter or backpacking filter (ketadyne, lifestraw, etc.) remove chemicals from the water?  No. Please read the manufacturers notes very carefully.  I am convinced that a ketadyne or lifestraw will not remove chemicals based on the manufacturer’s websites. I would not have used either based on the information supplied by the manufacturer.

Water, water every where but not a drop to drink. –

On January 11, 2014 a chemical spill into the Charleston West Virginia water system left 300,000 residents without water. This event was devastating to business, agriculture and environmentally.  After 5 days of – do not drink – the water supply was deemed safe to drink. –

300,000 residents impacted is a lot of water.  My math says they required a minimum of 600,000 gallons of water a DAY.  5 days = 3,000,000 gallons of water minimum.

What would you do?

In such a situation the two things I’d recommend is:

One – water storage before hand – particularly if you have children, elderly, are immune compromised or have animals to care for.  This event was 5 days but truthfully I’d err on safety and stay on stored known safe water at least 2 more. I might even go so far as to remain on safe water until I could find a way to test the tap water. I’d prefer to see enough water stored to last at least a month.  This equates to about 4 – 55 gallon drums of water – stored for the average 4 person family.

I am sure a family of four can manage on 55 gallons a week. At burning man 4 of us went through about 7 gallons of water a day with minimal cooking using water and no washing.  We drank fruit juices and our pre-made food was very water based which supplemented this.

Second would be evacuation.  Yes, I’d leave. I’d get my family to safety.  In this case to a place with fresh water.

Third is what West Virginia did. They called for help. By declaring a state of emergency they mobilized federal resources. FEMA, Red Cross and other community support mobilized and trucked in thousands of gallons of water from more than 3 states. We can assume that this will happen but it shouldn’t be what is planned for.

Prepare for Your Business and Your Home.

– A solid business restoration plan needs to address these types of business casualties. Plans will vary by business.

A home business plan may include stored water followed by a timed evacuation.

A restaurant, coffee-house, any business with food or at risk clients such as children and elderly, farms, etc … they would need an in-depth plan which includes an alternative water source. –