Water Filter Benefits to the Environment

Water Filter Benefits to the Environment

Happy Earth Day! Today is a day that we celebrate the beautiful world we live in. We all have found little places of the world that we enjoy, whether it’s a beautiful sandy beach, the mountains, or a wooded trail. At Connect for Water, we often champion projects that bring clean water to those in need for health reasons, but did you know that water filters also help the environment? We’ve pulled together four different benefits of water filters to the environment and outlined them below. 

Less Plastic Waste

A key benefit of water filtration is that it cuts down on plastic waste because bottled water is not needed. According to the Container Recycling Institute, each day in the US more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away. Even if one tries to recycle plastic bottles, only certain types of plastic bottles are recycled in certain areas. The rest of the plastic bottles end up in landfills. As they are made of polyethylene terephalate (PET) plastics, they break down into small pieces as they decompose and contaminate soil, pollute groundwater and make animals sick. These bottles can take hundreds of years to decompose in the landfills, continuing to release toxins into the environment. If one water filter can provide clean drinking water for a family for 5 years, that is 4,175 water bottles saved from landfills.

Reduces the Carbon Footprint of Bottled Water Production

Another benefit of water filtration to the environment is a reduction in the carbon footprint of bottled water production. Since water bottles are made from polyethylene terephalate (PET), they require fossil fuels to be produced. In 2006, the US water bottle consumption levels required the equivalent of around 17 million barrels of oil. This is enough energy to fuel one million American cars for one year (Pacific Institute, 2007). This means that drinking bottled water is also depleting the earth of other natural resources.

Save Scarce Water Resources by Reuse

Did you know that you can also save scarce water resources with water filtration? With a water filter, it is possible to reuse water which reduces stress on the freshwater supply. Many areas where pure water is plentiful are delicate ecosystems that suffer when their water is removed like rivers and wetlands. Wastewater is typically the water targeted for recycling. Instead of sending the wastewater directly to the nearest river or ocean where it spreads contaminants, it is recycled and used for irrigating crops. 

Save on Soap and Other Cleaning Products

A final, and little known environmental benefit of water filtration is that it can help save on soap and other cleaning products. As many water sources are contaminated with oils and other minerals, filtering water before washing hands or cleaning surfaces will mean that less soap will be needed to wash away the dirt. Minerals like calcium and magnesium interfere with the cleaning action of soap. Soap is attracted to these minerals, producing fewer suds and being less effective (WaterTech, 2015). From this understanding, we can conclude that filtered water will also save soap and other cleaning products.

These are just a few of the filtered water benefits to the environment and they can just be added to the countless health benefits of clean water. This is why we continue to champion the cause for clean water around the world. Would you join us in this work to save the earth and help communities drink clean and safe water?

Water’s Effect on Malnutrition

Water’s Effect on Malnutrition

What If…

In the morning you wake up before the sun to walk miles to collect water for your family. As you approach the river, you are relieved to find that there are no cows around and you will not have to push your way through to the water. You bend over and your bucket is heavy as you lift it from the slow moving river. The water is discolored, but you still raise it to your head to take it home to your children.

You and your family are blessed to have a little bit of food and this water, but the bellies of your children are bloated and they don’t seem to be growing very much. They lack energy to go to school and run and play with the other children. You try to give them as much food as possible, but it just isn’t enough. What if this was your reality?

We often hear about malnutrition when organizations are working in developing communities. It is a wide-spread issue touching one of every three children in the world. According to the World Health Organization, “malnutrition is characterized by inadequate or excess intake of protein, energy, and micronutrients such as vitamins, and the frequent infections and disorders that result.” We think that the best way to help them is to provide nutritious food, but this is not the only thing we must do.

A little known fact is that clean water is key to fighting against malnutrition. When children have access to clean water, their bodies are able to absorb the key nutrients that will make them healthy. As published by WashAid, “half of all cases of undernutrition are estimated to be associated with repeated diarrhea, intestinal worms and other infections as a direct result of inadequate WASH.”

With this understanding, we are taking action to help children to grow up to be healthy and strong. We are working with our partners to make sure that clean water is a part of nutrition programs by including distributions of water filters. If you would like to help children around the world to enjoy health, become a water sponsor. Your $5 per month gift for a year supplies 5 children with safe water for over 5 years. This gives mothers peace of mind, knowing the water they work so hard to collect is enabling their children to go to school and run and play.

Understanding The Deadly Salmonella Bacteria

Understanding The Deadly Salmonella Bacteria

What a gift it is to have pure, clean water!

Not just for drinking and cooking, but to wash produce, scrub hands, brush teeth, and bathe.

Clean water is a basic human need, yet the UN’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health reports that 663 million people still lack ‘improved’ drinking water. That’s despite efforts being made each year to supply more people with better quality water.

One side of this reality is the diseases that routinely accompany contaminated water. A salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, is one common bacterial infection. It can happen anywhere, but this disease plagues developing countries with contaminated water supplies.

What are salmonella, salmonella infection, and salmonellosis?

These three terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but salmonella is the name of the bacteria, while salmonellosis and salmonella infection are the resulting illness.

This genus of bacteria is responsible for one of the most common forms of food poisoning worldwide. Globally, millions of cases of salmonellosis are reported every year. Many more go unreported.

Discovered by a doctor in the 1870’s, the bacteria became known as salmonella when a veterinary pathologist involved in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s microorganism research program found salmonella in hogs that were dying. The genus “salmonella” was named for this researcher, Daniel Salmon.

Most salmonella infections can be classified as stomach flu or gastroenteritis. The infection strikes the intestinal tract. The bacteria typically live in human and animal intestines, including birds, and then are shed through their feces. Even someone with no symptoms can be a carrier and infect others.

The way most humans become infected is through ingesting water that’s been contaminated with the bacteria, or tainted food – in particular raw/undercooked meat, poultry, eggs or egg products. Salmonella infections are more common in the summer than winter.

Where is Salmonella bacteria found?

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The bacteria itself is found worldwide. Humans carry certain types of salmonella. It’s found in wild and domestic animals. Poultry, swine, cattle, wild birds, and rodents can carry it, but so can reptiles – iguanas, turtles, and others. Even dogs and cats may harbor the bacteria.

What are the symptoms of salmonella infection?

Sometimes people with salmonella infection have no symptoms. Others develop diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fevers within a few hours to 3 days.

A complete list of symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

The salmonella infection generally lasts from four to ten days. It’s normally not life-threatening, and without treatment, most healthy people recover within two weeks.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Infants, young children, the elderly, transplant recipients, pregnant women and unborn babies, and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to have an acute form of the illness or be in danger if complications occur.

Diarrhea linked to salmonella can be dehydrating. Dehydration occurs when you aren’t able to drink enough liquids to replace fluid lost from diarrhea. Even after abdominal pain and diarrhea subside, it may be months before bowels are back to normal.

You may be dehydrated if you’re experiencing these or other signs:

  • Dry mouth and or tongue
  • Little urine output
  • Producing few to no tears
  • Sunken eyes

How does salmonella cause diarrhea?

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It’s insidious! Here’s Science Daily’s description of this cunning invader:

Salmonella is a pathogenic bacteria which penetrates intestinal epithelium cells which form the topmost layer of the intestinal tissue. Although the pathogens are killed in these cells, they succeed in provoking inflammation that destroys the intestinal flora and nullifies their protective function. Their comrades of the same species that remained in the intestine exploit this, and proliferate, and the affected person develops violent diarrhea.

Sometimes dehydration is severe enough to require medical attention or hospitalization. In those cases, blood or stool samples help medical personnel distinguish salmonella infection from other illnesses with the same symptoms.

How is a salmonella infection treated?

As noted before, some cases clear up on their own. Severe cases may require hospitalization to receive fluids intravenously. Anti-diarrhea meds may be prescribed or medications to relieve cramping, although the latter may prolong diarrhea that comes with the infection.

Antibiotics don’t help with uncomplicated cases of salmonella. They’re usually used for treatment when it appears salmonella bacteria have entered the bloodstream, and sometimes for severe cases or patients with a compromised immune system. Antibiotics could increase a risk of relapse.

Salmonella infections become life-threatening when complications develop. especially when the infection spreads beyond the intestines to the bloodstream. Once present in the bloodstream it’s called bacteremia. Bacteremia can lead to infection of any organ, like the brain, spinal cord, heart valves, lining of the heart, or bone marrow.

What is typhoid fever?

One variety of salmonella bacteria leads to typhoid fever, a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract and sometimes the bloodstream. It is caused by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria. It can be a deadly disease.

Typhoid is much more common in developing countries than in the U.S. where it is now considered very rare. In the 1800’s there were numerous outbreaks in New York traced back to one immigrant later identified as a carrier.

She herself was healthy, but she was the cause of many others becoming ill, some of whom died. Because there was no antibiotic salmonella treatment and no immunization for typhoid, she eventually ended up in isolation until her death. She was known as “Typhoid Mary.”

One other possible outcome of salmonella is reactive arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome), although only in a small number of cases. It causes joint pain, eye irritation, and pain when urinating, and can lead to chronic arthritis, a condition that’s difficult to treat.

What are the causes of salmonella infection?

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Most people become infected by eating foods or drinking water that’s been contaminated by feces. Some think this should be easy to avoid, but areas with poor sanitation and a lack of clean water are incredibly vulnerable. A home water filter can make the difference between illness and good health.

Consider just some of the situations that produce unsanitary conditions in the global south. They may drink contaminated water. People can’t clean their hands effectively after using the toilet or changing a diaper.

Raw produce brought in from fields may not be washed free of bacteria. Fish or other seafood could be harvested from contaminated water. Butchered meat might not be processed using safe methods. Food handlers may not have cleaned their hands thoroughly so feces could be left on food.

Cross-contamination during food preparation is likely if surfaces can’t be cleaned sufficiently. Lack of clean water unquestionably makes everything much more complicated.

What are commonly infected foods?

Raw meat, poultry, and seafood often are infected with salmonella bacteria if feces are present. Raw or undercooked eggs are often a culprit, even though eggs have a shell. Sometimes infected chickens produce eggs containing salmonella before the shell has even been formed.

If raw meats or eggs come into contact with foods that are eaten without cooking, like salads, bacteria will be ingested. Unpasteurized milk and milk products like raw milk cheese can be infected. The FDA has even found some salmonella outbreaks traced to contaminated spices.

Any foods can become contaminated if you touch animals (especially birds and reptiles) and then transfer bacteria by touching inside your mouth or eating without properly cleaning your hands.

Salmonella can even spread from person-to-person. Medicine.net explains that The organisms can be transferred from person-to-person by both direct (via saliva, fecal/oral spread, kissing) and indirect contact (for example, using contaminated eating utensils).

It’s easy to understand why sanitary practices such as safe food handling and hand washing are crucial, yet the difficulty of accomplishing them without clean water.

What are risk factors for salmonella infection?

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International travel in areas with poor sanitation raise your risk. Salmonella infection, including the varieties that cause typhoid fever, are more common in developing countries.

Owning a pet bird or reptile that may carry salmonella bacteria. Reptiles (which includes turtles) are not considered appropriate pets for kids.

Stomach or bowel disorders may leave you at higher risk.

The human body has natural defenses against salmonella infection, but certain medications or physical problems lower those defenses. Here are examples:

  1. Stomach acid can kill many types of salmonella bacteria. Taking antacids lowers the stomach’s acidity allowing more bacteria to survive.
  2. Anti-rejection drugs after an organ transplant
  3. Corticosteroids
  4. Inflammatory bowel disease makes your intestinal lining more vulnerable to salmonella bacteria taking hold.
  5. Recent antibiotic treatment may reduce “good” bacteria in your intestines, making it harder to battle salmonella.
  6. Immune problems, AIDS, Sickle cell disease, and malaria.

How Can You Prevent Salmonellosis?

Can you imagine the dilemma of those in developing countries who must function with no clean water? Keep their plight in mind as you consider a list of best practices to avoid salmonella infections.

Common sense dictates that avoidance of sources is the best defense against the infection. Beyond that, there are rules to steer clear of the spread of salmonella:

  • Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, changing a diaper, cleaning up after pets, before, during and after food preparation.
  • Cook food thoroughly, then refrigerate or freeze food without delay.
  • Those with diarrhea shouldn’t prepare food, care for hospitalized patients, the elderly or children.
  • Cook ground poultry and poultry pieces to a minimum temperature of 74°C (165°F), whole poultry to 82°C (180°F), other ground meats to 71°C (160°F). A probe thermometer is the way to verify cooking temperatures.
  • Place cooked foods on clean surfaces only, not where food was prepped, and not onto a plate which was used for the item before cooking.
  • Don’t leave food at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Use pasteurized milk and milk products.
  • Thoroughly cook eggs. Don’t use eggs with cracked or damaged shells.
  • Avoid homemade ice cream, eggnog, or unbaked cookie dough made with raw eggs. Products made commercially like eggnog and ice cream are made with pasteurized eggs, not raw.)
  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables in clean water before eating them.
  • When buying, bagging, prepping or storing food under refrigeration, keep raw meat separate from fruits, vegetables, already-cooked foods or ready-to-eat items.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats versus fruit and veggies.
Is Alkaline Water Good for You? It’s a Hard Question to Answer

Is Alkaline Water Good for You? It’s a Hard Question to Answer

How you ever stopped to think about the water you drink?

If you’re like most Americans, the answer is probably no.

Yet, between coffee, tea, a host of other foods and liquids, and, of course, plain old drinking water we consume plenty of H2O. Based on our daily needs, many of us probably don’t drink enough.

But that is merely the surface. Water comes in many forms, both natural and artificial. One such type that straddles this line is alkaline water.

When people speak of alkaline water, it is often followed by claims of fantastic health benefits including the prevention of diseases and possession of anti-aging qualities.

The enriched water even has a celebrity following that includes Beyonce and Tom Brady.

In fact, the alkaline diet continues to be a popular choice in the US, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, we need to understand the science of water and that starts with understanding pH.

What is pH?

Certainly, you know that water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

You also probably know that our bodies are about 60% water and the earth is roughly 70%. Even with our thirst and need for water and its prevalence, how much more do you really know about it?

Is your water too acidic?

Not acidic enough?

Does it even matter?

That’s where pH comes in.

pH actually measures the overall acidity of water. Working on a scale that runs from 0 to 14, where 7 represents neutral, if the pH measures less than 7 that reflects acidity. pH greater than 7 is basic or alkaline.

To better understand the pH scale we can relate it to everyday liquids or products we are most familiar with:

  • 0 – Battery Acid
  • 1 – Stomach Acid
  • 2 – Lemon Juice, Vinegar
  • 3 – Orange Juice, Soft Drinks
  • 4 – Tomato Juice
  • 5 – Black Coffee, Acid Rain
  • 6 – Milk, Urine
  • 7 – Tap Water, Blood
  • 8 – Sea Water
  • 9 – Baking Soda, Toothpaste
  • 10 – Milk of Magnesia
  • 11 – Household Ammonia
  • 12 – Soapy Water
  • 13 – Bleach
  • 14 – Liquid Drain Cleaner

As you can see from the chart, too much pH in either direction is not a good thing.

When it comes to measuring water in nature – streams, ponds, or lakes, for example – the pH measurement works as an indicator that environmental conditions are changing.

For instance, factories or mines that are near water sources could dramatically lower than water’s pH level, indicating pollution is present.

Even the oceans are not immune. pH levels have dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 since the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. Oceans are forecasted to drop another 0.3 to 0.4 pH units by the end of this century.

That may not seem like much, but considering the pH scale is logarithmic (5 pH is 10x the acidity of 6 pH and 100x the acidity of 7 pH), even the slightest changes can create havoc in ecosystems that are highly sensitive to the most minuscule of changes.

At home, fluctuation in pH levels results in a completely different set of issues.

Problems could include the corrosion of pipes when pH levels are low. If pH is high, which means it contains too many bases, you could end up with bitter tap water or a buildup of deposits in pipes or appliances that use water.

When it comes to pH levels in our body, if they are thrown too far off balance, it can be catastrophic.

The normal pH level for blood in humans measures 7.4 on the pH scale, just above tap water.

For most individuals, pH levels remain in the healthy zone – 7.35 to 7.45. However, when your pH levels get too high, it can lead to a condition called alkalosis. With too many bases, untreated alkalosis can lead to arrhythmia or coma.

When your pH drops too low and becomes too acidic, the resulting condition is acidosis. There are several different types of acidosis, and without treatment they could lead to issues in organ function including respiratory failure, chronic kidney problems, kidney failure, bone disease or in severe cases shock or death.

Considering the potential health issues that could arise from unbalanced pH levels, it’s little wonder individuals look for ways to avoid complications – in particular, acidosis.

Which brings us back to alkaline water.

What is Alkaline Water?

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Alkaline water possesses elevated pH levels. In most cases, the pH levels top out at either 8 or 9. The water is full of alkalizing minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.

The thinking is that higher pH (along with the high mineral content) negates the acidity within an individual’s body. Proponents for alkaline water claim it possesses plenty of other benefits as well.

One study in particular showed that alkaline water shuts down the enzyme that creates acid reflux. Another reported a reduction in blood pressure.

Other, non-scientific claims state that alkaline water improves your metabolism, slows aging, and can also decrease bone loss. Though there is a limited number of studies on the subject, some suggest there could be potential.

The key word, however, is “could” as the vast majority of studies remain inconclusive.

Skeptics tend to cite those unproven reports and the lack of further concrete research as proof that alkaline water does not carry any more benefits beyond that of tap water.

They also point to the possibility that over-consumption of alkaline water may lead to alkalosis, confusion, nausea, and vomiting, as well as hindering the body’s ability to break down proteins properly.

There is also the potential to create an imbalance in an individual’s pH level.

In reality, though, there isn’t much available to prove or disprove the benefits or shortcomings of alkaline water.

According to Malina Malkani, a registered dietician nutritionist who also serves as the spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

“There’s really not a lot of evidence either supporting of the health claims that are made about alkaline water or refuting the claims.” Malkani went on to say, “It’s one of those fads that people are making all kinds of claims about, you know, ‘It’s a miracle cure, and it’s a curative for so many different things, and it can boost your metabolism and prevent cancer,’ and there’s just a lot we don’t know.”

Is the Alkaline Diet a Better Alternative?

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With that information in mind, for those looking to improve their health by turning away from the acidity of a lot of popular food and beverages, the alkaline diet – also known as the alkaline ash or alkaline acid diet –  proves a good alternative.

However, if you’re looking for alkaline foods to change your blood’s pH level, it won’t happen. It will though affect the pH level in urine.

The real reason to subscribe to the alkaline diet is that it’s just plain healthy. It’s hard to go wrong with consumption of fruits and vegetables and a lot of leafy items like lettuce, celery, and kale.

Plus, it restricts plenty of junk and processed foods and reduces your intake of high-fat, high-calorie options.

Research and the menu of options do back up the alkaline diet theory of better health through lower acidity, even though it does not achieve it in the primary form that supporters of alkaline water would have you believe.

According to Katherine Brooking, who is a registered dietitian:

“There is some good news for fans of alkaline eating. The Alkaline Diet is plant-based and discourages added sugar, so it may help your weight and health, although not because of the pH,” she said. “People who eat balanced, plant-based diets tend to have lower risks of chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.”  

She does go on to note though, there are some key factors you’ll want to follow, just like any other diet:

“However, you’ll still need to pay attention to portion sizes, total calorie intake and exercise regularly.”

Is There Any Benefit to Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water is perfectly fine to drink, although it’s a zero-sum game. There isn’t enough research to declare Alkaline water as a substantial health benefit or significant factor in preventing diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

And it is not a fountain of youth.

While it is also prudent to be mindful of what goes into your body, the risk of complications from improper consumption of alkaline water should, at this point, be meet with its own skepticism.

That said, some research does show that the broader Alkaline diet does possess some positive attributes simply through the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, an increase of growth hormone, and the improved function of enzyme and apocrine/exocrine systems.

As with anything health or diet related, moderation and balance are crucial. It’s also necessary to seek advice from a health professional prior to starting any new diet or regimen – food or exercise.

Of course, few things in this world are better and better for you than a tall glass of pure water. And there’s no need to wait on the latest research or a doctor to confirm it.

Nature’s Bounty: What You Need To Know About Harvesting Rainwater

Nature’s Bounty: What You Need To Know About Harvesting Rainwater

At one time, no one could have imagined arguments over who owns the rains that soak the earth. But that’s part of what’s been happening with the universal, natural resource of rainwater.

Rainwater is free and eco-friendly. Utilizing it helps owners cut the cost of utility bills. It’s hard to imagine anything worth arguing about.

What is rainwater “harvesting”?

Harvesting is simply another name for capturing and collecting rainwater so the water ends up in some type of storage container, either large or small. Most commonly, rain is collected from the rooftop of a building or other surface runoff. The area from which water is collected is called the “catchment.”

Rain then moves downward through gutters or pipes to a holding area. The water is used for specific objectives, rather than allowing rain to just slip away, evaporate, or seep into the ground.

What are the advantages of rainwater harvesting?

There are many advantages to harvesting rainwater! Since it’s eco-friendly, environmentalists advocate for responsible methods in collecting rainwater to lessen the impact humans take on the natural world. Water conservation efficiencies such as recently improved low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads have helped, but have probably reached their limits.

The practice of rainwater harvesting conserves groundwater, cuts down on the amount of stormwater runoff which contributes to water pollution, reduces soil erosion, and can help decrease flooding in low-lying areas. Better control gained over the natural water supply can be especially helpful where water is restricted.

Finding ways to use rainwater in California, for example, would greatly help the predicaments of that drought-prone area. One climatologist estimates that more than 80% of the region’s rainfall ends up literally going down the drain from urban areas in Southern California into the Pacific. Trillions of gallons of fresh rainwater end up in the ocean.

Unfortunately, a great deal of time and a lot of money are needed to save significant amounts of rainwater on that scale. But, for average homeowners and homesteaders, rainwater collection is generally economical. Just one inch of rainfall on a 2,000 square foot area yields about 1200 gallons of water.

Most home rainwater collection systems are simple, easy to maintain, and the upfront expense involved pays for itself over time. Because using rainwater cuts down on utility bills, homeowners find rainwater to be of particular benefit.

The uses of rainwater vary, but it’s especially well-suited to applications other than drinking. For example, water used to wash clothes and vehicles, operate toilets, or water gardens needs no filtering or disinfecting. Harnessing rainwater is a perfect solution!

Water collected from rain is actually healthier for landscape plant life than water you get from a faucet because there’s no chlorine in it. Rainwater is often less “hard” than publicly treated water, so less soap or detergent is needed, and there’s no need for a water softener.

Some people do opt to use rainwater for human or animal consumption. When that’s the case, the safety of rainwater for drinking requires more careful preparation and monitoring. Extra filtering and regular testing are necessary to ensure there’s nothing harmful in the water.

Are there disadvantages to harvesting rainwater?

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It requires some effort and routine maintenance. There are initial costs involved to set up a system that’s effective. Costs will be significantly higher if the water is going to be used for drinking since filtering and disinfecting after collection is crucial. Anyone with immune issues should be especially careful.

Contamination and pathogens can be ongoing concerns. The water needs to be stored in appropriate opaque containers using methods that prevent algae.  Rodents could find their way into storage areas. Insects, particularly mosquitoes, could potentially use the stored water as a breeding ground.

There are possible issues with using a roof to collect rainwater. Asbestos roofs and lead flashing shouldn’t be used for harvesting water. Some roofing materials seep chemicals, or may have had chemical treatments to prevent moss from growing. Bird droppings, insects, and leaves can also potentially wash along with the rain into the containment system.

There are ways to minimize these problems with careful research done ahead of time. It’s not quite as important if the water is never going to be consumed by humans or animals, but all aspects should be considered ahead of time in case stored water might ever be needed as a backup for drinking. Having a low-cost home filtration system like this one that quickly connects to a tap and removes all bacteria from water is an easy way to have peace of mind when you plan on drinking harvested rainwater.

Unpredictable rainfall can be a disadvantage, too. Some areas simply don’t get enough rain to make installing a system practical. Areas that experience sudden high amounts of rainfall will only benefit if adequate storage space is provided. If containment is small and lots of rain appears all at once, storage runs out quickly and the opportunity is missed.

What are the methods of collecting rain?

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Harvesting systems for rainwater are plentiful. It can be as simple as installing a rain barrel at the bottom of a downspout or as complicated as installation of underground tanks with high-efficiency filters and pumps.

All types of rainwater harvesting system design have certain components in common. One group of engineers (Enduraplas.com) lists the 5 “must have” components this way:

  1. Collection Area – Your roof is an obvious component as you can’t harvest rainwater without a roof. This is the first point of contact for rainfall. The volume of water you harvest will depend on the surface area of your roof.
  2. Conveyance System – A Conveyance system is a fancy word for downspouts and gutters. The right piping and gutters means the water will run off the roof and into your tank without collecting unneeded debris. Other necessary components include mount hardware, brackets, and straps to fasten the gutters and downspout to the fascia and the wall.
  3. First Flush Diverter – When the first lot of rain hits your roof and runs into your gutters, the water often contains a lot of pollutants from the air and debris on the roof. The first flush diverter is a popular system that includes a valve that ensures the runoff from the first spell of rain is flushed out and doesn’t enter the system.
  4. Leaf Screens – Having the right filtration system in place is critical, especially if you are harvesting potable water that you’ll be drinking or using for your laundry. A sophisticated filtering system ensures harmful contaminants are removed. Leaf screens are installed along the gutter, in the downspouts and at the entrance of the water storage tank.
  5. Water Storage Tank – This is a key component. Your storage system may be above ground or below ground and include more than one tank. Some of the common materials used for rain harvesting tanks are poly, galvanized steel, and concrete.

Can I build a home rainwater harvesting system for myself?

Yes! Loads of ideas are available online. You can choose whatever method suits your budget and your needs.

Take a look at 23 awesome ideas one self-sufficiency group has put together. They share all kinds of details about harvesting rain, including the types and composition of barrels for rainwater collection – ranging from very basic (and cheap) to very sophisticated, larger systems.

Does legislation make it illegal to collect rainwater in some places?

In a few locations, the government has begun to question ownership rights over rainwater. Although individual states can impose regulations, the Federal government doesn’t restrict rainwater harvesting. Most US citizens are able to collect rainwater without problems. Some states even offer incentives for doing it!

Rainwater harvesting restrictions have been implemented in places like Colorado. Citizens there who harvest rain must use it on the property where it is collected, and then only for outdoor purposes such as lawn irrigation and gardening. State by state regulations are essential to research prior to implementing a system, so make sure to read up beforehand.

For one Oregon man, rainwater became a legal issue in 2012. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined, due to three reservoirs on his property where he collected and used rainwater.

State water managers referred to “three illegal reservoirs” on his property that he would fill with rainwater and snow runoff. Oregon water laws state that all water is publicly owned. If someone wants to store any type of water on their property, they have to first get a permit from state water managers.

In this man’s case, he claims he had the appropriate rainwater collection permit, but an Oregon administrative official maintains this landowner was actually diverting water (that should have ended up in streams) by building dams to make the ponds.

What’s the future of rain harvesting?

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Populations continue to grow, and incidents of drought and low water levels are on the increase. It’s natural to contemplate offsetting those dilemmas by utilizing our resource from the sky. As more people recognize how much water can be easily captured and consider the savings involved, we’re likely to see the practice increase.

Demands for clean water will keep increasing. Aquifers and groundwater are precious and need to be preserved whenever possible. Hopefully, state officials and individuals can come to an agreement on the highest priorities, and work together toward partnerships that benefit everyone.

Just How Much Water Do You Really Need To Drink? More Than You Realize

Just How Much Water Do You Really Need To Drink? More Than You Realize

It seems like a new fad diet emerges every day. Weight Watchers, South Beach, Keto, Carnivore, Mediterranean, Paleo, and the Raw Foods diet all claim the ability to deliver good health, weight loss, and that body you’ve always dreamed of.

Each diet promotes and vilifies different foods. “Eat this, but don’t touch these.” The vilified foods of one diet are the promoted foods of the other. With so many conflicting ideas out there it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t.

But one thing that’s consistent across the board no matter what diet you’re looking into is the importance of water. The exact numbers aren’t always the same, but the idea that you should drink plenty of water every day is a universal idea.

Some diets say you need at least 64oz a day, some say you need to drink your body weight in ounces in water every day, others say you only need half of your body weight. You’ll also obviously need to drink more water if you’re physically active and sweat a lot throughout the day.

So what’s the reasoning behind this? Why is water an essential part of any diet?

The short answer is to avoid dehydration. But there’s more to it than that.

Let’s take a closer look at dehydration, why it should be avoided at all costs, and the role water plays in it.

What is dehydration?

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Dehydration happens when your body doesn’t get all the water it needs. This occurs when your body loses more water than it takes in. If you aren’t replacing your lost fluids, you will become dehydrated.

When you’re deficient in water, you become dehydrated, and your body loses its ability to function correctly. Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on how much fluid is missing from your body.

Anyone can become dehydrated, but young children and the elderly are at the greatest risk of dehydration, and it’s side effects.

Symptoms of dehydration

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So how do you know if you’re dehydrated? What are the symptoms? The symptoms vary based on the severity of the dehydration. And young children can have slightly different symptoms as well.

Mild or moderate dehydration symptoms:

  • Thirst
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Infrequent urination
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps

Symptoms of severe dehydration:

  • No urination
  • Extremely dark yellow urine
  • Extreme dry skin
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion or irritability
  • Fainting

While all of those symptoms can be found in anyone suffering from dehydration, there are a few symptoms unique to young children. They are:

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • Dry diapers for 3 or more hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks, or a soft spot on the top of the skull

If you have any symptoms of severe dehydration listed above, you need to stop reading this and see a doctor. Severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately.

How dehydration alters mood

One of the most overlooked symptoms of dehydration is the impact it has on your mood. In a new study of 25 healthy women, along with increased fatigue, and headaches, mild dehydration dampened moods. The women weren’t athletes or couch potatoes, but somewhere in between.

The women were given tests measuring their concentration, memory, and mood when they were dehydrated and when they were not. Overall, women’s mental ability was not affected by mild dehydration, but they did have an increase in the perception of task difficulty and lower concentration.

Causes of dehydration

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Now that we know if we’re dehydrated or not, let’s figure out what causes us to get dehydrated in the first place.

The first, most obvious causes of dehydration is not drinking enough water, losing too much water, or a combination of both. Most people simply don’t drink enough water, no matter what the reason.

Other causes of dehydration include:

Diarrhea – Diarrhea is one of the most common causes of dehydration and dehydration-related deaths. This is a major problem in developing countries whose citizens don’t have regular access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea prevents the large intestine from extracting water from food, leading to dehydration.

Vomiting – Most people suffering from the flu and related sicknesses are also suffering from dehydration without realizing it. Vomiting leads to a loss of fluids and makes it harder for you to replace them by drinking water because your body can’t keep it down.

Sweat – Dogs pant to cool themselves, humans sweat. When we sweat, our bodies release a significant amount of fluid in order to cool us off. Hot and Humid weather, vigorous physical activity, or even a fever that induces sweating can further increase fluid loss due to sweating.

Diabetes – High blood sugar levels related to diabetes cause increased urination and fluid loss.

Burns – Even though this is unlikely to happen to most of us (thankfully), severe burns can also cause dehydration. When you sustain severe burns, blood vessels can become damaged, causing fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues.

When to see a doctor

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There are several instances when you should seek medical attention for your dehydration. Most of the time we can correct our dehydration by drinking more water, but if you start noticing these symptoms, you need to see a doctor:

  • Increased or constant vomiting for more than a day
  • Fever over 101 F but less than 103 F
  • Constant diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Noticeable weight loss
  • Decreased urine production
  • Weakness

If you notice the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you need to go directly to the emergency room:

  • Fever higher than 103 F
  • Confusion and dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Severe headaches
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Fainting
  • No urine in the last 12 hours

Severe dehydration is nothing to joke about and needs to be treated immediately. In extreme situations, your doctor will give you an IV to start replacing your lost fluids. They also treat the symptoms you were suffering from when you arrived.

Best ways to avoid dehydration

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The best way to cure dehydration is to avoid it altogether. When you become dehydrated, your body loses its ability to function properly, so we should do everything in our power to prevent dehydration from occurring.

The first and easiest step to prevent dehydration is to drink water. Drink water before you feel thirsty. If you wait to drink until you’re thirsty, it’s often too late. If you’re wondering how much water you should be drinking, the best thing to do is ask your doctor.

There are several factors that will influence how much water you need to drink on a daily basis, and your doctor will be best prepared to give you a figure to shoot for.

Other ways to avoid becoming dehydrated are:

  1. Eat foods with high amounts of water like fruits and vegetables. If you don’t like drinking bottle after bottle of water, watermelon, cucumbers, and pineapples are great sources of water.
  2. Avoid or limit drinks with caffeine like coffee, teas, and soft drinks. Common ingredients in these drinks, like sugars, will actually dehydrate you instead of replenishing you. If you’re thirsty, the last thing you want to do is grab a sugary drink. You need a bottle of water.
  3. Avoid or limit drinks with alcohol. Alcohol actually increases your urine output, accelerating your chances of becoming dehydrated.

Dehydration during pregnancy

We mentioned earlier that young children and the elderly are at a higher risk of dehydration. Pregnant women also need to be very aware of their water levels and the symptoms of dehydration.

Pregnant women need even more fluids than your average person because water plays a critical role in the development of their unborn baby. Water helps form the placenta, which is what the baby depends on to receive the nutrients it needs. Water is also used to form the amniotic sac later on in the pregnancy.

So if you or your wife is pregnant, it is especially important to drink enough water during the pregnancy. Again, if you aren’t sure how much to drink, check with your doctor. It’s always a good rule of thumb to drink more than you think you need.

Drink your water

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Dehydration is nothing to laugh at. It seems like something that is easily avoidable and curable but left untreated, it can cause severe issues, including death. Look out for the warning signs, and drink water as the first sign of feeling thirsty. Don’t wait that long, drink before you’re thirsty. When you first start feeling thirsty, you’ve already begun the descent to dehydration.

Drink as much water as possible. Teas, coffees, sodas, and alcohol don’t treat dehydration, they actually accelerate it. There’s nothing better than an old-fashioned glass of water.

And please, see a doctor if necessary. Dehydration can cause permanent damage and death. Drink your water. Don’t jeopardize your life because you should’ve drunk a little more water.