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I did a search on this and did not find the answer. I was wondering if it is really necessary (or strongly recommended) to filter the water used in a very basic water system? My setup is about as simple as you can get:

Refillable plastic water jug pumped with basic Johnson water pump to very basic RV type faucet (see pic below), then drained to grey water tank (or can set it up to just drain right out)

I live in San Francisco and our municipal water is very good and clean, and this is typically the water I will fill the jugs with. I have been drinking unfiltered water here forever and actually prefer it to most bottled water. However, I started thinking that maybe I should buy some sort of simple filtration system and filter it so that any minerals or other contents don't mess up the system over time, and if you do recommend filtering the water, is there a simple system you recommend? The other thought I had was maybe running some diluted distilled white vinegar through the system periodically would be sufficient?

I would be curious to hear thoughts from more knowledgeable and experienced members here. Thanks!

 

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We only added a filter to our setup (just before the faucet) because we were getting some plastic taste. I imagine it was from our water tank, since most houses also use PEX lines and don't have that issue. I don't think mineral buildup is an issue in vans, unless you are living in it full time and have incredibly hard water. Even then, most houses don't have filters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We only added a filter to our setup (just before the faucet) because we were getting some plastic taste. I imagine it was from our water tank, since most houses also use PEX lines and don't have that issue. I don't think mineral buildup is an issue in vans, unless you are living in it full time and have incredibly hard water. Even then, most houses don't have filters.
Thanks this makes sense but I wasn't sure if an RV / Marine / Van system like this would be more susceptible to issues.

Also I should add that I am just using for trips not living in it.
 

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The water quality inside of SF is actually quite a bit better than the surrounding areas (such as where I live in the east bay) as SF owns a lot of the N Ca water system sources.

After a fairly terrible experience with my youngest daughter getting sick at a CA state park drinking water from a "certified clean drinking fountain" - we will only drink or use bottled water on the road.
 

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The water quality inside of SF is actually quite a bit better than the surrounding areas (such as where I live in the east bay) as SF owns a lot of the N Ca water system sources.

After a fairly terrible experience with my youngest daughter getting sick at a CA state park drinking water from a "certified clean drinking fountain" - we will only drink or use bottled water on the road.
Just curious, how do you know the illness was from the water?
 

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I have used 5 gallon military style Jerry cans for years and have never filtered my water. As long as you're getting water from good sources and don't let it sit for weeks on end, then there's no reason to filter it. Most common filters aren't going to make bad water safe for drinking, but they will make it "look" and possibly taste better. Perhaps even covering up quality issues that may have been noticed had the water not been filtered? :unsure:
 

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Just curious, how do you know the illness was from the water?
At the time she was 12 and had gone on a trip with my wife.

Started having problems fairly soon after.

Visited a number of doctors, stomach biopsies, etc. This went on for 6 months.

Finally one specialist group said - well those tests are only about 50% accurate - take these pills for a couple weeks and if it is H Pylori it will be cured. If not, they won't hurt you.

Called back to the state park to tell them about it and they told us that lots of people had gotten ill. Apparently the testing and certification had been done incorrectly after a plumbing repair.
 

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At the time she was 12 and had gone on a trip with my wife.

Started having problems fairly soon after.

Visited a number of doctors, stomach biopsies, etc. This went on for 6 months.

Finally one specialist group said - well those tests are only about 50% accurate - take these pills for a couple weeks and if it is H Pylori it will be cured. If not, they won't hurt you.

Called back to the state park to tell them about it and they told us that lots of people had gotten ill. Apparently the testing and certification had been done incorrectly after a plumbing repair.
Wow, this is extremely rare in the U.S!
 

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If you're trying to prevent illness/make unsafe water safe for drinking you need a "PURIFIER" not a "FILTER". The terminology is significant here. Lots of purification methods/equipment available, not exactly easy or cheap though.
 

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As long as you're getting water from good sources and don't let it sit for weeks on end, then there's no reason to filter it. Most common filters aren't going to make bad water safe for drinking, but they will make it "look" and possibly taste better. Perhaps even covering up quality issues that may have noticed had the water not been filtered? :unsure:
I totally agree. However, depending on where you camp, you may not always have access to reliably safe water. Many remote campsites in the west have no water or potentially sketchy well water. Without sufficient storage capacity, you could get stuck with a less-than-reliable water source. There are gadgets that actually purify sketchy water for drinking, but regular RV water filters won't stop germs. I see a lot of YouTubers toting around those big clumsy Berkey water purifiers. Here in Canada, we have a less cumbersome alternative. We have a 5gal potable tank under the sink feeding one of these via a small high-pressure pump. This filter/purifier is designed for summer cottages/cabins that draw water from lakes and streams. Certainly not the only solution, but we like it.
 

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Wow, this is extremely rare in the U.S!
I agree - that is why we wondered about the drinking water source vs other causes but didn't pursue that direction more aggressively since the stomach biopsy test was negative.

Basically she missed attending the entire first semester of 6th grade and we home schooled her. More or less bed ridden from pain. 2 different children's hospitals before it was figured out. Both of them fairly well known for dealing with complex children's health issues. Pro stomach specialists in both cases.

Then came the even more interesting situation. We were purchasing health insurance privately and when it was time to re-sign up, the insurance company wanted us to "prove that she was cured" or add $500 / month to the policy cost because it would be a pre-existing condition. The doctors could not prove or diagnose that she was sick, so how could we prove that she was cured?

That is when I changed my attitude about how health insurance was operated and that pre-existing conditions should not be a significant factor in buying health insurance.

_

As you can imagine, the cost of bottled water for us is negligible compared to this life experience.
 

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I agree - that is why we wondered about the drinking water source vs other causes but didn't pursue that direction more aggressively since the stomach biopsy test was negative.

Basically she missed attending the entire first semester of 6th grade and we home schooled her. More or less bed ridden from pain. 2 different children's hospitals before it was figured out. Both of them fairly well known for dealing with complex children's health issues. Pro stomach specialists in both cases.

Then came the even more interesting situation. We were purchasing health insurance privately and when it was time to re-sign up, the insurance company wanted us to "prove that she was cured" or add $500 / month to the policy cost because it would be a pre-existing condition. The doctors could not prove or diagnose that she was sick, so how could we prove that she was cured?

That is when I changed my attitude about how health insurance was operated and that pre-existing conditions should not be a significant factor in buying health insurance.

_

As you can imagine, the cost of bottled water for us is negligible compared to this life experience.
JFC man, that's awful!
 

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Wow, this is extremely rare in the U.S!
I wouldn't be so sure. At least here in BC, not all campgrounds test their water and most of the ones that do, only do it once a year. Some still post boil-water advisories fairly often. Remember Flint, MI. Water quality is still a real issue in many places today. That's easy to forget when we live somewhere with good water and take it for granted.
 

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JFC man, that's awful!
The final chapter of the story involved the family cat, which kept her company during this ordeal.

As a "Christmas present" for the cat, our daughter bought some special canned moist food for her.

The cat food ended up being part of the batch that contained China supplied wheat gluten.

As it turns out, the value of the wheat gluten is based on it's tested protein content, and the test results also respond to the presence of melamine (yes the plastic).

Melamine sawdust is fairly common in China because it is the result of furniture making, so some very creative people sold melamine laced wheat gluten to the food company in Canada - which produces the vast majority of brands of canned cat food.

Long store short - our cat and MANY others died as a result and in the process completely ruined the carpet all over the house.

Nestle / Purina did nothing and just kept denying.

Now we don't purchase anything from Nestle and as little as possible from China. Obviously not completely avoidable.


___

A few years later the same thing happened to baby formula sold in China and quite a few kids had ruined kidneys.


Some life lessons come in waves.
 

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As you can imagine, the cost of bottled water for us is negligible compared to this life experience.
This is a key statement. That's why I have "fresh water" tanks (tap water), used for washing, showering. And then I have potable water in 4 litre jugs, purchased at home from trusted sources, enough for most road trips such that I won't ever need to buy any.
 

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don't let it sit for weeks on end
This is also a key statement. I've had water in one of my "fresh water" tanks go bad on me despite using home tap water (which has been reliably fine for drinking even). The issue reared up because I left about a quarter tank in a warm environment for weeks while my focus was working on other parts of the van.

Just a note, that after that incident, I bleached out the tank, flushed it with 2 full tanks of new home tap water, put in the WHO-approved amount of bleach for drinking water and somehow, because I guess some remnant of the previous contamination survived(???), the tank went bad again on my most recent road trip. I'm currently bleaching the tank out again and blasting the insides out with a powerful hose hoping to clean out and kill whatever survived and, fingers crossed, this won't happen again. Going forward I'm doubling the WHO-approved amount of bleach in it as I don't really intend to drink the water (it's for washing only).

Edit: It's actually my province's recommended amount of bleach, not WHO's, though I believe it's similar.

 

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I always drive around a bit when sanitizing my water tank and lines. A little sloshing around and then letting the bleach mix set for a minimum of 4 hours before draining and flushing.
You should pour bleach mixture through your hose also as it can/will have bacteria .
 
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