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Drinking cistern water

4crissy
September 22, 2010 08:12PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 25

Is it okay to drink the water from the cistern if I run it through a brita filter pitcher first?

Re: Drinking cistern water

popflops
September 22, 2010 08:17PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 416

We drink our cistern water without faucet filterization and it tastes fine. Of course, I've spent the last 11 years drinking well water and "city" water tastes like chlorine to me, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. :)

Re: Drinking cistern water

STXBob
September 22, 2010 09:44PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 1,883

I think Brita says that the water must be biologically safe to drink before you run it through their filter.

Re: Drinking cistern water

cheryl96s
September 22, 2010 10:33PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 458

No, No, Hell NO! Get your water tested first. If the water is not chlorinated, filtered and whatever else, it is probably not good to drink!!! YUK. think about it, the rain runs off of the roofs that have decaying leaves, bird crap, lizard crap and whatever else kind of crap. People have found dead iguanas, plastic buckets, rusting tools and pressure treating lumber in the bottoms of cisterns.
With that being said, yes , cisterns can be clean and have good drinking water....if they (owner) does things properly. Condos have rules about water safety/cleanliness- private residential homes do not- so I am told by lawyers.

Just my opinion.......

Re: Drinking cistern water

stxer
September 22, 2010 11:08PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 181

Quote
cheryl96s
No, No, Hell NO! Get your water tested first. If the water is not chlorinated, filtered and whatever else, it is probably not good to drink!!! YUK. think about it, the rain runs off of the roofs that have decaying leaves, bird crap, lizard crap and whatever else kind of crap. People have found dead iguanas, plastic buckets, rusting tools and pressure treating lumber in the bottoms of cisterns.
With that being said, yes , cisterns can be clean and have good drinking water....if they (owner) does things properly. Condos have rules about water safety/cleanliness- private residential homes do not- so I am told by lawyers.

Just my opinion.......


You make cistern water sound really scary. In fact the reality about water quality is somewhat different than you have stated.. Cheryl seems to have been influenced by the 'ehew god ..it's not clean" water quality group. There is no doubt that cistern water is potentially unhealthy, but so is public water and well water too... many of us have been drinking cistern water for years with only a little damage to our brains and bodies...lol.

I do not know the scientific facts, but, just like the public water that is pumped through pipes, if water is treated it should not make you sick. In fact cistern water is more in YOUR control than public water or well water. Hey, a little lizard crap might be good for you. Cheryl...do you really know where that bottled water you are drinking came from...an what is IN it.

Re: Drinking cistern water

Linda J
September 23, 2010 03:06AM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 3,886

We've drunk ours for 7 years without incident. Assuming your cistern is properly maintained, it is fine. But it's also a personal choice. Lots of people buy water 5 gallons at a time for actual drinking and still use the cistern water for cooking, washing dishes, etc.

Re: Drinking cistern water

fdr
September 23, 2010 05:25AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 907

I've drunk filtered cistern water from a number of different cisterns. It tastes fine, doesn't make me sick, but always seems to give me a bit of a sore throat the next day. If I stick to bottled water, I don't have this problem.

Re: Drinking cistern water
avatar

Bombi
September 23, 2010 08:16AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 1,979

For peace of mind do some testing. You can get home bacteria tests online. Pool test strips can give you a basic idea of the level of free chlorine. Add pure, unscented bleach to bring the chlorine level to around .5mg/L, this is the level needed to kill Coliform bacteria found in the previous description of the stuff that gets into your water supply. No lizard poop isn't good for you but I expect if ingested all the time that an immunity may be developed.
Here are the basics of keeping your water safe to drink.

[www.algomapublichealth.com]

Another thing to remember is to clean the debris out of your gutters at least 4 times a year and after a windstorm.

That said, I don't knowingly drink cistern water. RO and ultraviolet add ons are popular but generally found to ineffective due poor maintenance. I check my condo cisterns 2x's a week, more if it rains a lot. I check my home cistern once a week using free chlorine test strips.

This is another cistern water quality site [www.ca.uky.edu]

Re: Drinking cistern water

chefnoah
September 23, 2010 08:44AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 531

I have a Pur fridge pitcher and have been drinking it like a mad man for about 5 months now. I dump some bleach in after a big rain or if it starts to smell funky. I don't think about the roof being rinsed off :)

Noah

Re: Drinking cistern water

aussie
September 23, 2010 08:51AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 868

I won't drink it - not at least not without installing a water purification system between the cistern and the faucet. That's a nasty soup stagnating in the hole under the house.

Brita filters are not water purification systems. They are particle filters.

Bottom line, you either trust in someone else to purify your drinking water as you do when you drink city water and bottled water, or you trust in yourself to purify your own water. Read up! The fact that some people drink it without apparent harm is not proof that it is safe to do so.

Re: Drinking cistern water

beachy
September 23, 2010 09:00AM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 630

and sometimes you don't know what you're drinking...we have neighbors who buy bottled water for drinking, with a prominently displayed dispenser in the kitchen....but they use cistern water for making their ice cubes...never bothers me (and I assume they treat, as long time islanders working in the medical field) but hubby can't handle it...makes him sick every time...now he just drinks beer at their house...

Re: Drinking cistern water

4crissy
September 23, 2010 09:04AM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 25

I knew if I asked, I wasn't going to like the reply. Yuck!! Now that I know I am not drinking that water anymore, where can I get the five gallon jug and do they deliver lol. Thanks for the info.

Re: Drinking cistern water

stiphy
September 23, 2010 01:23PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 961

We drink it, filter it for sediment with a whole house filter and through a second filter built into the fridge that advertises that it removes gihrardia and cysts. Myself, my pregnant Wife, and one year old have not had any problems with it. I do chlorinate it from time to time and looking into my cistern the water looks very clean (aka clear).

The other post on the Hovensa spill though is worrisome to some degree.

Sean

Re: Drinking cistern water

Greg _STT
September 23, 2010 01:37PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 42

Just check in your cister fist to make sure there is nothing dead in there. Sometimes lizards get in there and die. If that happens you will usually smell it thought when you turn the water on. I drank out of my cistern all the time and never had any problems. However I would recommend bottled water instead.

Re: Drinking cistern water

rks
September 23, 2010 01:46PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 396

Now WAIT. There is NO reason to suspect bottled 5gallon water is any better than cistern water, and is possibly much worse. Do your diligence and check that your cistern is relatively clean, your downspouts are clean and have mesh filters, and so on. Clean water falls free from the sky, you have to catch it and ensure that it stays clean.

There is no oversight for the bottlers on island and, although they are frequently tested, they frequently fail with no follow-up. Your cistern may occasionally have some organic stuff from leaves but it is unlikely that you'll have coliform bacteria, as many of the 5gallon "purified water" bottlers do.

Worse still, many of the bottled water companies are located in the area of Hovensa and get their water from wells and cisterns in that area. Hovensa has a chronic groundwater contamination problem. It is unwise to trust the bottler's filtration and reverse-osmosis system to eliminate the potentially awful stuff in the ground water from that area.

I have a notoriously touchy stomach and have never had a problem with my cistern water, although we do use a pur filter.

Re: Drinking cistern water

formersttresident
September 23, 2010 02:24PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 6

I lived in STT for 4 years, and would never even consider drinking cistern water.

Re: Drinking cistern water

aussie
September 23, 2010 02:43PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 868

Quote
rks
Clean water falls free from the sky...

Even a cursory look online will show that rainwater can be full of contaminants. We like to believe that the water falling from the sky is clean, but it really isn't. Everything that the water comes into contact with can also affect its quality - roof coatings, materials used in containment and distribution systems, everything right down to how clean you keep your gutters.

Cisterns can absolutely be used as a source for potable water. Becoming familiar with water purification techniques can help keep you safe. Here's but one of a number of great resources on the net:

[www.nsf.org]

Re: Drinking cistern water

rks
September 23, 2010 03:00PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 396

But those contaminants are as nothing compared to those to which you are exposed via the bottled water supply stream in the islands.

Re: Drinking cistern water

aussie
September 23, 2010 03:16PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 868

I'm headed out to buy water and you don't exactly have me feeling good about it, rks! LOL :D

Re: Drinking cistern water

rks
September 23, 2010 06:07PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 396

Sorry Aussie! No one should be alarmed, but nor should anyone be hysterical about cistern water. Roof coatings sold in the VI (or at least on stx) are suitable for potable water. I'll take a few parts per million of sahara dust and lizard poo over a chance at any methylene chlroide, ethylbenzene, xylenes and chloroform, for example, all of which leaked into our groundwater from the old island chemical plant.

Re: Drinking cistern water

STXBob
September 23, 2010 10:31PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 1,883

There is all kinds of dirt on the floor of our cistern, and we still drink the water because we run it through 2 sediment filters and a UV filter, all of which we change regularly, and we get the water tested anually.

Re: Drinking cistern water

flatlander
September 24, 2010 01:10PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 16

We are only considering moving there, and very excited about the possibility. The water/sewage was one of our concerns and what we will look into prior to moving there if that's what we decide to do. Here in Ohio we live in the country on a few acres and had a well drilled when we built our home 8-years ago. The water of course was tested and passed with flying colors, but we still buy the 5-gallon bottles of water to drink. We also have a water softener. We did have a purifying water system but proved to be a hassle because the pump kept going out on us. Therefore, we bought a water cooler/heater and use 5-gallon water bottles, which is probably what we would do if we move there, or anywhere else for that matter.

Are water softeners use there? Since people rely on cisterns, what about washing clothes, car, watering plants? Do cisterns ever run dry? Also what about sewage?

Re: Drinking cistern water

mminstx
September 24, 2010 02:10PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 219

I wouldn't let my chihuahua drink cistern water. I guess it's your comfort level and how good your filter is. I just don't want to risk it.

Re: Drinking cistern water

mminstx
September 24, 2010 02:19PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 219

Oh, flatlander, to answer your question, when I lived on the East end of St Croix, the cistern just did not stay full with the rain, and I had to buy well water and have a truck refill it. They also had an option to buy purified, but it's getting mixed with the rain! For the past 10 months, mid-island, the rain has been more than enough. This was with a water hose and laundry in both places. Was there a leak in the old place? Don't know..have never heard of anyone using softeners.

Re: Drinking cistern water
avatar

Bombi
September 24, 2010 02:35PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 1,979

Rain water is by nature, "soft", not as many minerals in it like groundwater, vinegar is highly acidic and it breaks down the walls of the giardia cysts,

If it doesn't rain your cistern can run dry. Then you call a water truck and get a delivery.

There is some public sewage in more populated areas. Residential has subsurface disposal systems with a septic tank. Larger places may have a treatment system.

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