How often do we hear the health advice to stay hydrated? And how often we think: “that’s enough, I don’t feel like drinking more” when drinking the tap water? Some elderly people I talk to even say that they don’t drink water at all, only tea or juice. Why?
Sometimes I go to the local spring to get water. I can’t resist not to drink some while being there. It just tastes so good! To me, there is a huge difference in taste between tap water and a spring water. There is probably a big difference chemically, so this prompted me to do a bit of research.
The source of drinking water in most of Australia are dams in pristine catchments. This is fortunate. The sun kills most of the bacteria and the clay has time to settle while the water stands.
The only time when the water is murky is after a heavy rainfall when the dam has been previously very low. In this situation there could be an excess phosphorus causing algal blooms and Phoslock is used for this. Phoslock is an Australian product developed by the CSRIO in the 1990’s. It is a modified bentonite clay in which most of the sodium (Na) ions in the clay’s microscopic structure has been replaced by lathanum (La) – an element I have never heard of before. Lathanum is strongly reactive, it eagerly binds with available phosphorus and sinks to the bottom of the lake. As to the form of application, I think they just spray it onto a dam from an aeroplane. I saw a public note lately regarding aerial spraying in the Warragamba Dam area; maybe this is what they did.
On the sideline: Ironically, phosphorus is a mineral that we sorely miss in our Australian soils. If you add lots of compost to your garden and it is still not growing well, you have certainly lack of it. The best source is MAP (mono ammonium phosphate). We get it from Aca Ohlsson in Bringelly.
Then the water needs to go through a treatment plant. It flows through filters, to get rid of particles such as suspended plant debris or suspended clay.
The next stage is flocculation when alluminium chloride (AlCl3) or ferric chloride (FeCl3) are added to the water. Both are positively charged very reactive substances, which bind with microscopic negatively charged particles and bacteria and flocculate – it means they make clumps which sink to the bottom and are filtered out – or not.
Alluminium chloride is a nerve toxin and also irritating to skin or mucous membranes when ingested. Ferric chloride is a highly corrosive poison.
The rationale is that these substances will be “used up” in the flocculation process and end up in the drinking water in less harmful forms of iron, alluminium or chloride compounds. The practical reality is, however, that in the name of the public safety, a little bit more of these substances is used so that “we are on the safe side”.
The next stage is disinfection – killing the “bad guys”. This is the chlorine you can taste in the water. Chlorine is a strong oxidising agent: it means it burns whatever it touches, so it easily kills the bacteria. Chlorine is also a one of the main ingredients in the manufacture of chemical weapons. It was used in the battle of Ypres in 1915, for example. Also, chlorine dissolved in water was used by doctors to wash their hands since 1850’s and is still used as a part of Dakin’s solution for wound sterilisation today.
However, it is the free chlorine we need to worry about, not the compounds. When chlorine is bound to sodium, for example, we get the familiar table salt.
Again, the rationale is that “this little bit won’t kill you” and it is a small price to pay for sanitary water. The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of similar “this little bit won’t kill you” influences in our environment. This all adds up and it you have a predisposition to allergies or other weakness, one day you may suffer ill health without really knowing why.
The only way you can protect yourself from chlorine is to let the water jug stand on the kitchen bench for a couple of hours before drinking it. The chlorine will simply evaporate into the air and hopefully react with something else before it reaches your lungs.
The last thing added to your water is the controversial fluoride. Sydney water has been fluoridated since 1968. Vast majority (95%) of NSW residents have fluoridated water and this is required by laws and regulations. Only the lonely Byron Bay Shire Council has decided to go against the tide and not fluoridate its water. Good on you, old hippies! My heart goes out to you!
I won’t write much about fluoride. There is enough information on the internet about it now (it is 2018). My guess is that the way things are going, in a few short years the only information on the internet will be that the fluoride is very good for your teeth. The argument is heated and not respectful. I prefer to stay out of it.
Saying that, it is not easy to get rid of fluoride in your water. Sitting on the kitchen bench won’t help. You need a really good quality filter that says specifically that it can filter all of the fluoride out. By doing this, you filter out all of the other minerals as well. This is a problem. We don’t have enough minerals in our water and food and we need them badly. This is a big topic and I leave it for another day.
Some filter companies even offer mineral drops to remineralise your drinking water again. This is crazy!
The last thing: the water comes to you in pipes. If there are some copper pipes in your house, you will end up with a copper overload (you can look up the symptoms) and a zinc deficiency (because copper and zinc compete for absorption in the body). The only way around it is filtering or let the water run for a minute first to flush the pipes.
So, now you understand why I go to the spring. Nature filtered, safe, mineral rich, and more!
Do you know where is the closest spring to your home? If you live in a different area than the Upper Mountains, could you let me know?
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