Data on water issues
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Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
Data on water issues on 04/18/2010 18:56:13 MDT Print View

Any suggestions on where to find data about what bad guys (protozoans, bacteria, viruses) exist where I'm taking trips?

I'm pretty exclusively in the N. Rockies high country, and am looking at water treatment options, and my choice depends on what the threats are.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Data on water issues on 04/18/2010 19:26:08 MDT Print View

I suspect you may not find a lot of data except in city watersheds where the water is sampled regularly by the city. I'd like to see some data, too, but I don't think that any governmental agency takes samples in the backcountry unless a major problem is reported (see next paragraph). I know that the Forest Service has eliminated the expense of testing the water for most of their front-country car campgrounds by removing the water system altogether and posting signs that the water is unsafe for drinking. In the wilderness, you're definitely on your own!

In the Rockies, you'll find a lot of livestock--lots of horse use, of course, as well as still-existing grazing allotments (a legal use in wilderness areas, BTW). You have to remember that without horses (still the primary trail users) and livestock grazing, very few trails in the Rockies would exist, and that nearly all trail maintenance is done by horse outfitters (at their own expense). In addition to the livestock issue, in popular areas not all humans dispose of their excrement properly. I understand that Lonesome Lake in Wyoming's Cirque of the Towers was one of the earliest places affected by that problem, which is why they've banned camping within 1/4 mile of the lake.

At least that will give you an idea of what might get into the water! There's also the silt in glacier-fed streams to consider, which may or may not be a problem where you're going.

I had a friend who carefully filtered his water until the last two nights of a 9-day trip, where the spring was coming right out of the hillside. Guess what he came down with (confirmed by lab tests) about 10 days later? It turns out that that's an extremely popular area for hunters to camp in the fall, and evidently the ground water was polluted.

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/18/2010 19:29:00 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Data on water issues on 04/18/2010 19:29:32 MDT Print View

"...that nearly all trail maintenance is done by horse outfitters..."

If you could point to more information on this, I would appreciate it. Thanks.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Data on trail maintenance on 04/18/2010 19:46:56 MDT Print View

No data; based on verbal information from locals in or near Wyoming's Wind Rivers; I was inquiring mostly to get a comparison with the situation here in the Northwest.

Here in the Northwest, the Forest Service has hardly any money for trail maintenance. It is nearly all done by volunteers plus a few groups like Americorps. Those volunteers are hiker groups (like the Washington Trails Association) close to the roads, but for trails that are too far from the trailhead for hikers to pack in the needed equipment, it's the Backcountry Horsemen groups (which include professional packers) who do the job. For places like Oregon's Wallowa Mountains, far from population centers (and therefore from few volunteers) the burden is basically on the professional packers, whose livelihood depends on the trails they use being open (the ones they don't use are basically abandoned). I can give you specific trail examples if you want.

This is, of course, straying from the original post about water data!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/18/2010 19:47:39 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Data on trail maintenance on 04/18/2010 20:26:06 MDT Print View

And ze horses can pack in heavy items such as saws.......

Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
what do we know on 04/24/2010 13:45:13 MDT Print View

No sources of data on water-borne nasties for the N. Rockies?

Does that mean that methods that address all 3 types is warranted (viruses too)?

I've always used a pump filter which has been perfect over the last 20 years, and would like a justification for treating for viruses.

Any help?