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chris markley
(motorapido) - F
River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 06:47:11 MDT Print View

When backpacking in the mountains, i don't worry about drinking stream and spring water that I filter and treat with tablets. But what about Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River, on an upcoming 4-day kayak trip? After filtering with my Frontier Pro and treating with Aquamira tablets, will there be enough remaining pollutants to kill me or make me grow extra thumbs? Springs carry pollutants to streams. Streams carry more pollutants to creeks. Creeks pick up even more pollutants and carry them to rivers. Will I compromise my health drinking four days of filtered/tablet-treated river water? I'd hate to have to bring 4 days of bottled water in my kayak. I spent a fortune on an ultralight kevlar and carbon fiber kayak, and would hate to load it down with all that water.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
river water on 03/16/2011 06:58:11 MDT Print View

Chris... it really depends. If the river passes through towns and farmlands I'd be fairly confident that there are contaminants that your filter/Aquamira won't take out. I know that here, in Ontario, I wouldn't drink, even with treating, out of the Grand, St. Lawrence, Speed, Nottawasaga, or other rivers.... especially if they run through farmland where who-knows what chemicals have leached in from treating crops.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 07:58:12 MDT Print View

I'd research the river online and find out how polluted it is first and with what chemicals or heavy metals before you decide.

When I backpack in certain area of Eastern Washington I pack in all my water - due to the water in the area being rank with agri-chemicals.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 08:22:12 MDT Print View

Without knowing the river, here's how I see it...

It's spring, so the runoff is about as pure as it gets all year because things are as washed off as they're going to be and because colder temperatures dissolve things less. The filter and tablets eliminates the biological problems. There may still be some other things in the water, but unless you get sick immediately, it probably won't make a noticeable difference to your health over your lifetime.

L Miller
(LMiller) - F

Locale: Maryland
Re: River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 09:23:46 MDT Print View

The Susquehanna is lined by cities, towns and farmland for nearly its entire length. I don't have any scientific evidence to back this up, but I would not feel comfortable drinking that water with just a handheld filter. There should be enough places to restock on the trip so you don't have to carry the entire load from the beginning.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 09:32:14 MDT Print View

I agree with local restocking. You won't really be in the wilderness. Pulling off for refills is your safest and easiest bet.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 09:32:35 MDT Print View

Acid rain is a concern. This normally spikes in spring. With the increase in acid, goes the increase in soluability for a lot of things. In the east this sort'a offsets the decrease in soluability due to colder temps.

From Wikopedia:
Most of the pollution in the river is due to excess animal manure from farming, agricultural runoff, urban and suburban stormwater runoff, and raw or inadequately treated sewage. In 2003 the river alone contributed 44% of the nitrogen, 21% of the phosphorus, and 21% of the sediment flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.[9] It was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997.[10] The designation provides for technical assistance from federal agencies to state and local governments working in the Susquehanna watershed.

I think that for 4 days, it will not make you grow extra body parts. But, if anyone is pregnant, avoid it. With the potential radioactive element (iodine, cesium, etc) danger from Japan (infered from what they are NOT telling us,) I would suggest a good filter, probably with a charcoal liner.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: River water drinkable? on 03/16/2011 09:46:30 MDT Print View

I would haul the water. Weight isn't as critical in a kayak as in backpacking, unless you are in a really small boat. If I **had** to drink it, I would boil it well and filter it with a good carbon filter. You want bacterial, viral and pollution protection, so the Frontier Pro is out. Aquamira would be okay with the biologicals, IF you can give it a full 4 hours for treatment. Of course, *where* on the Susquehanna will make a difference too.

To me, boat weight is more critical getting it back and forth to the water. A little weight on the water helps drift through waves. Lighter is better if you have to start/stop/change direction as in whitewater travel. Sounds like an easy trip on the paddling side, going downhill with the current.

Cool link: http://www.srbc.net/programs/remotenetwork.htm


There is a nice wiki at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susquehanna_River . Doesn't make me want to take a sip!

"The environmental group American Rivers named the Susquehanna "America's Most Endangered River for 2005" due to the excessive pollution it receives. Most of the pollution in the river is due to excess animal manure from farming, agricultural runoff, urban and suburban stormwater runoff, and raw or inadequately treated sewage. In 2003 the river alone contributed 44% of the nitrogen, 21% of the phosphorus, and 21% of the sediment flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.[9] It was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997.[10] The designation provides for technical assistance from federal agencies to state and local governments working in the Susquehanna watershed."

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Susquehanna River Water on 03/16/2011 11:03:21 MDT Print View

I don't live too far from the Susquehanna River and I would definitely NOT drink it.

Depending on where you're planning to kayak you'll be passing campgrounds, state parks, and towns with docks where you should be able to get fresh water. Look at your maps carefully, make a few phone calls to make sure water is turned on (depending on when you're going), and plan accordingly. Not much different than backpacking: know where your next water source is and carry the amount you need to get you there.

chris markley
(motorapido) - F
Buying water along the way = too civilized on 03/16/2011 12:09:10 MDT Print View

You're absolutely right that the smartest, safest thing would be to buy water at various stops along the way. But I would prefer to avoid people during my 4-day paddle from Selinsgrove to Harrisburg, and just enjoy a very slow, leisurely, solo trip. But you're probably right about all the creepy stuff in the river. I will likely just stop here and there to buy water. However, even in the mountain streams where I use just tablets and Frontier Pro filter, and which I think are so clean, there is all that horrible stuff leaching out of mines from 100 years ago, and now all the fracking chemicals from the horrible Marcellus Shale raping of the land. Will we humans never learn? Will we ever stop the exploitation of our precious resources? Sad that a man has to fear the natural waters due to unnatural corruption.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Buying water along the way = too civilized on 03/16/2011 12:31:36 MDT Print View

My daughter had an e coli infection a couple years ago. Believe me, you don't want to go there. I appreciate wanting to get away, but you would change your mind quickly if you got a bad bug!

There are a number of books on epic kayak river journeys. It is a great way to travel, and get *in* the element. I have kayaked river deltas and estuaries off Puget Sound and it is a great way to see wildlife and a different view of the countryside. There's nothing like drifting quietly along and having a seal pop up a few feet away, or see herons standing frozen, waiting for a meal, or otters playing.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
fracking on 03/16/2011 16:14:14 MDT Print View

That's a nice stretch of river to float. With the gas fracking, I'm really just aghast at the complete lack of regulation. Did we not learn our lessons from acid mine drainage? I think of all the creeks near where I grew up and I'm creeped out by the idea that toluene and benzene and god knows what else could be in them soon. I share your anger.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
Re on 03/17/2011 19:37:34 MDT Print View

If anything grows make sure to post pictures.