General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is my drinking water storage method safe?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9106 points ) January 4th, 2011

I use an RO system that is not NSF certified (I will likely replace it soon) to dispense water into a nearly sterile 5 gallon glass water bottle.

Then I place a dolphin water pump onto the top of the bottle. I take the whole apparatus and place it in an eight inch high plastic bin so when I pump the water any errant flow does not go onto the floor.

I use a glass one liter volvic water bottle, with a rubber stopper intended for drinking containers, to collect the water from the pump for drinking. I clean it with boiling water twice a week, and soap and hot water everyday. When I need water for cooking I simply pump the water directly into the intended pot, or other container for smaller amounts. When the 5 gallon bottle is empty I clean it thoroughly (but I would take advice on its sterilization as well).

The 5 gallons typically last at longest one month. During this time unfiltered air is pumped into the bottle at least seven times a week.

So, undoubtedly some amount of air contaminants must be entering my water supply.

These contaminants are the same ones that I breathe on a moment by moment basis, and in that sense are unavoidable. My concern is that in the closed moist environment there could be some risk that a pathogen may invade through the pumped in air.

Until I get a clear understanding of the precautions I need to take to avoid illness I have discontinued the use of my system, and have returned to french bottled water.

I am requesting advice about whether this is a safe set up, or if there is a better way.

Here are some things I think are relevant:

-water coolers at offices use a very similar method for displacing water, however the bottles are constantly rotated.

-I hear that refrigeration would limit the risk involved. So says the RO mfg.

Thank you for your answers!

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7 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

Wow. That’s impressive.

I just watched Tapped and I’m wondering if the move to french bottled water is subject to more safety regulations than tapwater. I also wonder about the transportation issues – where are you located, and how does it get there?

Ltryptophan's avatar

Oh, and fyi I also add minerals from a company called Concentrace, after I’ve pumped it into my one liter bottle.

I just like the taste of the french water. I trust the company, while I sort out my process.

I imagine french spring water is shipped on the ocean to us…

janbb's avatar

@iamthemob NYC water is supposed to be some of the best tasting and purest water in the world.

iamthemob's avatar

@janbb – I’ve actually set my new years resolution as giving up all bottled refreshments in favor of a tapwater-only diet of fluids for the year.

Well, liquor is an exception…;-)

@Ltryptophan – Does the french water come in plastic bottles? If it does, I’d be concerned with leeching. If you trust the company, great – I just want to make sure you’re aware of their source, filtering, bottling, to freight, overseas, and local shipping procedures.

Aside from checking on those, is there a reason why you need a full five gallons? If it’s for convenience, I would think it’s always safer to ensure that the water doesn’t sit still (even in glass) for longer than necessary.

Ltryptophan's avatar

It is for convenience, and my RO system pumps out about 2 gal./hr.

Right now I am sort of experimenting with the water that is in the 5 gallon container. It has been there for over two months. Every once in a while I check it with my TDS meter. I think that maybe if something is breeding in there it will start showing up on the meter or else visibly as algae!

Probably not the best idea for the pump but from what I am seeing there is very little happening.

Someone also told me that since the water has next to nothing in it, any pathogens would have a hard time supporting life.

I don’t like drinking from plastic, but it is only temporary.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Since you are concerned about the air why not pass it through a HEPA filter before it goes into the container. The good HEPAs will filter out bacteria. If you want to really go overboard, you can bathe the area with UVB radiation to kill everything DNA based.

I drink well water pumped from a hole 90 feet deep in my front lawn.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@worriedguy I think that what you are suggesting would require a clean room.

In that case I could just buy bottled water of the highest quality.

The pump is unsophisticated in the sense that a HEPA filter wouldn’t easily be incorporated into its design as a hack, etc.

I also considered placing a good stand alone HEPA filter next to the rig and running it for a while before collecting water from the bottle. I think that this would only slow the result of any possible contamination. Maybe that’s all I need is to slow it down just a bit till I can clean it though!

Regardless, I would still love to know if the normal air being pumped into the container is polluting my little personal well.

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