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Many people have installed rain barrels to supplement their water use. They are a great way to water lawns and gardens. If you had, to could you drink this water? What sort of treatment would be necessary?
Rain water is inherently pathogen free. There are some bacteria present but they typically aren’t pathogenic. The problem with rain water is with the collection and the storage.
Because most rain water collection systems are not intended for drinking they are not good at preventing contamination.
Let’s look at the first stage of rain water collection. The rain itself. Rain water tends to have very little dissolved in it. Only substances already in the atmosphere are in rain water. These substances are gasses like oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide. Sometimes they are more harmful like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and ozone. A lot of these gasses will leave the water once it is collected and they are allowed to be released back into the atmosphere. What will usually stay in the water is a lower pH or higher acidity. This can be “acid rain” that dissolves things on contact (this is a problem in many areas), but can also refer to water with a pH less than 7 (neutral) and may never do any significant damage, which is much more common. Basically, because of the low levels of dissolved substances and the low pH, rain water is “hungry” to dissolve substances. Meaning it is ready to absorb contaminants from everything it touches. Read More…