General Question

talljasperman's avatar

"Are there still any rivers in North America from which you can drink safely without any treatment"?

Asked by talljasperman (21744points) May 26th, 2014

Straight without filtering.
Topics: water, cleaning, lakes, river , fresh Water

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

Seek's avatar

You could. It’s not recommended, because you never know when you’ll be drinking a parasite, and it’s not like our bodies are used to fighting off that stuff.

Look up Giardiasis on Wikipedia. Not. Even. Once. Especially if you like cheese. Giardiasis can cause permanent lactose intolerance, among all its other socially charming side effects.

here’s some expert advice.

kritiper's avatar

Depends on where you are when you plan to drink. At the point where it meets the ocean or where it first comes out of the ground.
ALL water, everywhere, contains pharmaceuticals, like birth control drugs.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

At one time you could drink water from just about any river in the US so long as it had just passed over rocks.
Nowadays the US water is so polluted it’s not recommended even to swim in most rivers here.

The real question is, “Are you able to safely drink water from your own tap or do you drink and cook only with bottled water bought in a store?”

cookieman's avatar

When I was a little Cub Scout in 1978, we went camping in the woods of New Hampshire. Everyone filled their canteens from a nearby stream with cold, clear water. No one got sick.

I wonder if we’d still be able to do that today?

zenvelo's avatar


Like @cookieman, I used to back pack in the Sierra Nevada, and used to carry a Sierra cup un my belt, so it would be happy and you’d just dip into a stream and get a drink of the best damn water. But by the mid 80s Giardia was endemic throughout the Rockies and the Sierra and the Cascades, the three cleanest sources of water.

tinyfaery's avatar

This was depressing.

GloPro's avatar

Hmmm. The center of the lake at Lake Tahoe. There are many tributaries in, but only one way out. There is no connection to the ocean or salt water. Completely landlocked and fed from snowmelt runoff at high elevation MAY be your best bet.

JLeslie's avatar

I bet there are still many many places in the US and Canada where it is safe, probably Mexico too way high up in the mountains somewhere. You just can’t risk it unless you know the water has been tested recently I guess.

@Seek Holy crap. I have to look that up. I have said so many times I think all the antibiotics I took, and even one was an anti-parasitic, cured my lactose intolerance. Not to mention my aunt developed lactose intolerance during a trip to India. Mine started around age 18 or 19 and finally went away about 8 years later. My aunt developed lactose intolerance in her early 50’s.

Berserker's avatar

Here in Qu├ębec, some people do gather water from creeks and drink it just like that. There are special creeks where people go get the water in big jugs and bring it home. I’m not sure if they boil it or not before drinking it. But apparently it’s safe to drink and the creeks are maintained for this purpose. So, close enough to the question I think. All that water apparently comes from mountains, and very little is done to it.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I think you could probably drink out of most of them and be about as safe as 50 years ago. The problem is that we are a little more well-informed now, so the very thought of drinking water where animals slobbered and peed, and dead fish rotted, would be enough to make me sick.

Seek's avatar

Giardiasis also goes by the rather entertaining name “Beaver fever”.

Because beaver shit water will make you shit water.

Insert sexual beaver reference.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Honestly, no water has ever really been all that clean. Not even before industrialization. That’s one of the reasons why beer has been so common throughout history, because even back in the day our ancestors realized that water was often not as clean as it looked.

gailcalled's avatar

There is a big area on Lake Placid where the large summer homes pump their drinking water directly out of the lake. Our pump is about 40–50 feet down in a lake that has depths in spots of 400’ and many underground springs. The water is very potable.Every spring the town of Lake Placid tests it.

We were advised not to drink the water that came down off the mountains in what looked like lovely clean streams because of the Giardia, known there also as “Beaver fever.”

When we took day hikes, we brought water. For longer trips, the kids took tablets they dissolved in the water.

PhiNotPi's avatar

I don’t think it was ever safe to drink water straight from a river. Even the Native Americans boiled their water.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Once again, running water going over rocks is the cleanest river water around (before all the poisons and pollution man decided to dump in said rivers).
No need to boil this kind of water which has been cleaned and purified naturally.

This of course was a few years ago, back in the 60s and possibly 70s.

Seek's avatar

Unless you see beavers. Or there are beavers you can’t see.

Rocks are not made of magical purifying angel tears.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It doesn’t work so well anymore thanks to the magic of mankind’s incredible penchant for polluting everything in its way.
But in the olden days (and this is what I learned form the Shawnee Tribal Chief, Joseph
Raincrow), the water is best downstream from the rapids (regardless what size rapids).

Seek's avatar

How can we blame people for a microbial parasite?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Which one? And how can we not blame people for pollution in the water which comes directly from manufacturing?
Giardiasis is not the only nasty in the water, you know.

There are places with Leptospirosis, Sepsis, and something I heard of called an incurable flesh-eating bacteria. These come from pollution caused by man.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Well if tribal chief Joseph Raincrow said it it has to be true.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Seek's avatar

Please, cite a source other than “This guy I met once said…” which agrees that water pouring over a rock is sufficient to kill protozoa.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, @zenvelo answer. The Sierras here where I live used to boast some of the cleanest and freshest mountain snow pack waters, but Giardia is everywhere now. Range cattle crapping in the alpine steams and rivers. My cat had Giardia a few years ago as an adopted stray and it was a bitch to treat, some really hardcore drugs to cure him.
However, that said, I had a well on an old property I lived on for 8 years that was 600 ft. deep in solid granite and that water was icy cold, delicious and very pure.

Never tested for anything even slightly bad and man, nothing like waking up to ice cold Sierra well water when going for the morning face splash. haha
This is one thing I hate about city water, the “cold” water comes out tepid, not cold and refreshing.

Dan_Lyons's avatar


“Once you have found a water source, you have two old drinking rules to choose from, depending on how healthy you are, how cautious you are and where you are.”

“The first is, when doubt about water, purify it. The second is, a lively bubbling stream cleans itself in 30 feet of flowing over rocks and sands.”

Seek's avatar

End Times Report (dot) com doesn’t appear to present any supporting evidence for its claim, nor any clarification as to what it means by “cleans itself”. Does “clean” mean “free of sediment”? “Reasonably clear”? “Tastes okay”? “Sterilised”?

gailcalled's avatar

@Dan_Lyons: WATER, by Jiyani” is the article you cite. Who is Jiyani and what exactly are his credentials, other than having a cool single name?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Hahaha. It has always worked for me. Never gotten sick drinking water downstream from the rapids/rocks.

Here’s a point of interest. There are a few of us in this world who don’t need to be told by others what is real in life.
When does the incessant need for someone to point to someone else and say, “Oh, it’s his idea and it must be true because he is a scientist and performed numerous experiments.”

Don’t you understand yet that somewhere along the line someone had an idea without needing to cite someone else? Do you really think that there are not people living now who are indeed themselves the point of reference?

But I already cited Chief Joseph Raincrow, who learned this from his father, who learned it from his father, who learned it from his father etc etc etc….

As for Jiyani, he Works at Water PurifiersStudied at Veer Narmad South Gujarat UniversityLives in Ahmedabad

And the website “end times Report” was the first website my goggle search turned up which corroborated my theory.

Also, I learned this same fact from my dad and my grandfather.

It is also somewhat obvious and a point of common sense.

gailcalled's avatar

Like the 1000-year old turtle who met and greeted generations of kahunas?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Yes, @gailcalled. That obviously made an impression for you to remember it. And did you know those turtles are telepathic and can communicate directly with most people? (At least people intelligent enough to be open to this form of communication with a turtle).

Seek's avatar

Aaaand, we’re done here.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Hey drink all the magical rock water you want, but don’t expect anyone else to just take the word of some guy who heard from a guy who heard from another guy that heard from some other guy.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I fail to see how water moving over rocks could effectively remove poop, pee, slobber and rotting flesh out of the water.

Coloma's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Ewwww….I agree. Infact, one of my local lakes just gave up 4 men that died after flipping their speed boat going 100mph a few weeks ago. All four were not found for a 7 to 12 day period because they weren’t wearing flotation devices. Mmm…don’t think I’ll be going to swim in that lake for a good long while. Bloated, rotting dead men in the water for almost 2 weeks. gag!

3 broken necks and one blunt trauma chest injury, aortic rupture. Nice going morons, because you were stupid enough to flip your cigar boat and molder away for 2 weeks in the water you’ve ruined my summer swimming. lol

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Not to mention countless dead fish.

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