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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 4:07 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
What do people do or recommend for water treatment on Far North canoe trips?

Does anyone know the water quality in the YT, NWT, NU and Ungava?

Do you treat your water?

If so, by:
Filter?
UV light?
Use chemicals to disinfect such as chlorine dioxide, chlorine, iodine?
Boil?
Solar radiation?
A combination (purifiers)?

Or use it straight out of the water body without any form of treatment?

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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 5:20 pm 
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Location: HFX, Nova Scotia canada
Worked in NWT on or above tree line. No beavers. Drank straight out of rivers and lakes. Always cautious regarding small streams. Might be a dead bear in the water around the next upstream bend.


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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 5:37 pm 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Quote:
YT, NWT, NU and Ungava


My experience is limited to Ungava, straight from the river there in spite of the shoreline on the lower George River being littered with bear poop.

For me in all those areas I would drink it untreated except for sketchy locations like a swamp.

When I do have suspect water or paddling anywhere in "southern Canada" I just boil, I've given up on filters and never used any chemical methods.

I tend to follow the old saying "the solution to pollution is dilution", in Summer the George runs at about 2,000 CMS that's a lot of dilution!
(yeah I know "pollution" isn't really the same as a small amount of bacteria)

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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 6:41 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
If you are in the Yukon you will want to filter your water unless gathering from clear small side streams. The glacial silt can be so concentrated that you will feel you are drinking mud. And its gritty on your teeth. At least let it settle.


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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 6:53 pm 
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If water is silty, I let it settle in a large pot before doing anything else. We generally filter, even in the North, just to preserve group harmony. There is always at least one person who is adverse to water right out of the river, no matter how remote.

When I did an ORCA tripping instructor course a few decades ago, I came away with the distinct impression that even drinking water in the South is pretty safe. You have to have a very high concentration of girardia to get beaver fever and that means drinking a lot of contaminated water over a long period of time. There was an article on the NOLS website that gave a case history of girardia contamination in the municipal water of Long Lake New York. Only a few permanent residents got sick after drinking the water all summer.

Even boiling water may be overkill. On that tripping course we were told that everything that can hurt you dies at 176 degrees F. which is when you get "fish eye" bubbles at the bottom of a pot.

Most of what gets blamed on water contamination is illness due to poor camp sanitation. I'm a bit of a camp nazi about handwashing, but I'm not so concerned about the drinking water on most rivers.


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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 7:06 pm 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Quote:
Even boiling water may be overkill. On that tripping course we were told that everything that can hurt you dies at 176 degrees F. which is when you get "fish eye" bubbles at the bottom of a pot.


Pretty much totally agree with this and always get a laugh at Health Canada Recommendations such as:

Fiddleheads should be boiled for at least 15 minutes! Yeah ok, fiddleheads CAN contain a toxin that is destroyed by boiling but 100% of all fiddleheads are inedible if boiled for more than 2 - 3 minutes!

Their recommendation for purifying water is more reasonable "1 minute at a rolling boil" but still probably overkill unless you are taking your drinking water next to the sewage outlet.

I get it, some people are hyper sensitive to bacteria so give it two minutes if you like.

A higher level of care needs to be taken when getting your water from a mud hole in Africa where houndreds of animals come to drink every day or a small beaver pond in central Ontario with an active lodge.

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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 8:21 pm 
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When I paddled the Yukon River canoe races, the water looks clear from Whitehorse to as far as the junction with the Teslin, but still could see organic chunks of fleshy debris from dying salmon carcases (so I believe) in the aqua clear water up to that point. After the Telsin the water brecomes the color of coffee, thick with suspended silt and you cannot see as much as a millimeter into it. You can hear it on the bottom of the canoe as if it is being sanded by the thick silt. It sounds like a mistuned AM radio. Below the White River confluence, the water is the color of coffee with too much creamer in it. For drinking water on the 6 days of the 1000 mile race, each night I first did a gross filter through muslin in a collendar over a 5 gallon bucket. Then I mixed in a combined flocculant and disinfectant chemical packet from Pur that settled the silt and killed any bad bacteria. In the morning the bucket had several gallons of clean water above 3 inches of sludge on the bottom. Two such buckets are enough to hyddrate my team of 6 voyageur paddlers for the day.

One time we happened to stop for a bio break where a clean mountain steream came bubbling down, so we filled up or bottles directly witout treartment. One paddler immediately noticed a flake of gold in her drink as she tipped her Nalgene over. I quickly marked that location on my GPS.


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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 8:59 pm 
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I’m always amazed at the amount of goose poo on the river banks and lake shores in the far north, so our treatments kind of depends on the abundance of local fauna.
If it’s moving water or shallow we do something to it like filter or boil it and we consider big deep lakes are good to drink straight up (get the water a ways away from shore). We generally treat it the same either above or below the tree line.
Gravity filter here and lots and lots of tea.


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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 9:05 pm 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Mollycollie wrote:
lots and lots of tea.


Yeah most of the water I consume on trips has be boiled to prepare anyway, tea, oatmeal, meal in a bag and very little plain water.

Unfortunately since I gave up one of my kidneys last year my nephrologist is pestering me to drink much more plain water and cut back on the ridiculous amount of black tea that I've been guzzling for the past 60 years.

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PostPosted: May 16th, 2021, 9:33 pm 
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Location: Edmonton area
Long ago I was camped along the Yukon at a tiny stream outlet a few miles downstream of Dawson for a few months, and my daily water came from that stream. It was only maybe 10 feet wide. One find day I became violently ill after a moose died km upstream, in the water, and it was zero fun. I was well sick before I smelled it and went looking.

Also at times there were lots of dead salmon along parts of the Yukon, so I do not recommend drinking raw water from anywhere. Boil, almost boil, filter, treat, or whatever, ensures that you are not sick as the proverbial dog somewhere remote. No fun soiling a sleeping bag while near delirious, especially in grizzly country solo.

I use an MSR AutoFlow gravity filter in camp, and while paddling I use a LifeStraw Go water bottle that I just fill from over the side and suck on a sippy thingy. Quick, easy, safe. I know we all subconsciously want to drink straight from the water that we paddle in, and in some places at some times it's not a problem. But sick from bad water way out there, is something that I want to avoid again enough to always do something to make my water safe. But of course, to each their own.

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PostPosted: May 17th, 2021, 8:32 am 
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Joined: January 8th, 2007, 9:56 pm
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Location: Wisconsin
On my first trip to the far north (Coppermine River, 30+ years ago) I drank straight out of the river and I contracted giardia. Ever since then I've filtered my water.


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PostPosted: May 17th, 2021, 9:02 am 
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Joined: December 31st, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Listowel, Ontario Canada
Brings up memories of a water filter add showing a frozen lake with a lone wolf squatting to do his business. The caption read "where are you getting your drinking water from" I use the Platapus gravity filter.


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PostPosted: May 17th, 2021, 9:47 am 
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Location: Kanata
Most of my tripping up north was on guided trips, so we always provided a filter for the guests to use. That being said, I would often drink straight from the rivers if we were floating downstream and I was out of water. Never did I, or any of the other guides, get sick from drinking unfiltered water. I did notice that silt would make things a little less solid than normal though, but nothing that caused any distress or feeling ill.
A few years ago I forgot the water filter for a 10 day trip on the Ogoki River. It was a hot trip. 90% of the fluids we drank was water straight from the river.
We all believed we'd be sick some time over the summer - there were four of us on the trip, none of us became sick.

rab


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PostPosted: May 17th, 2021, 1:50 pm 
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Location: Waterloo, ON
You will always hear stories of "we always drank straight from the river/lake/stream and we were fine". And then you'll start hearing from the folks who "always drank straight from the river/lake/stream for 20/30/40 years and never had a problem until...". The 2 deciding events for me both involved spring trips. One with a deer carcass hung up in a fishing hole and the 2nd with a moose carcass just around the corner from our campsite. The moose carcass was found the morning after we set up camp.

It's safe until it's not and you won't know it's not until after you had your drink.

The only safe thing to do is to filter, chemically treat, or boil your water. UV is a nice extra but shouldn't be your only treatment as 'bad stuff' can hide if there is any obstruction - silt, dirt, stuff - in the water.

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PostPosted: May 17th, 2021, 3:21 pm 
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Maybe you only hear the positive stories because those with negative stories and bad outcomes are no longer available to tell them


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