Water purification

How to get clean, drinkable water from your lake


Water purification

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For drinking water, many of us haul bottled H2O to our cottages. But with reports of bisphenol-A, recyclables in landfills, and delivery trucks producing CO2, what’s a thirsty cottager to do? The good news is that even if you want to go small-scale (instead of installing a whole-house filtration system), clean, lake-sourced water is at your lips.


Most portable countertop systems use a ceramic filter to block bacteria and beaver-fever protozoa, and a carbon filter to remove organic compounds. Pumped through by hand, one to four litres per minute are potable right away. Slower bucket-sized gravity filters produce up to seven litres per hour, but no pumping is required. Or, buy tablets or liquids that, when shaken in water and left to sit, unleash microbe-killing oxidants. Tablets are low cost, as little as $12 for 50; some high-output filters clock in at $1,500.


If your cottage has plumbing, you can hook a “treatment plant” to the supply pipe under the sink, or opt for a faucet-mounted countertop system. Countertop ones treat about four litres of water per minute, undercounter systems about 10. Most combine treatment methods, including reverse osmosis, which removes heavy metals, pesticides, minerals, and some microbes; carbon filters, which remove odours and heavy metals; and UV light, which zaps micro¬organisms. Filter cartridges and UV bulbs do need periodic replacement, but the systems are low-maintenance energy-misers, and cost as little as $300.

This article was originally published on October 22, 2009

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