Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Drinking Non-Potable Water?

This weekend was a beautiful weekend up here in Northeast -- sunny, 70s and Memorial Day festivities all around.  Before the fun began, I wanted to slip in my long run for the weekend, and mapped out a 10 mile run along a pretty stretch of beach.  Of course, I ran on the road, not on the beach, though, and was not in my home neighborhood.  So, my hydration options were limited.  I took some water with me, but also ran in a populated area, and figured somewhere along the line there would be a water fountain, maybe at a beach or park entrance.

Turns out I was wrong.  There were no water fountains at the beach entrances, only air compressors (wierd huh?).  But -- there were a couple of houses that had their sprinklers running...ahhh nice fresh water.  Chugged up, refilled and away I went.  And then I reached the county park that was my turn around point for my run.  And it had a HUGE sign that said that water was NOT safe or intended for human consumption.  Umm, ok, so I won't drink that water.  But then I thought...if the water in those pipes wasn't safe for consumption...I bet the water in the sprinklers wasn't either.  Hmmm, that is not good.

But the water in the sprinkler system had to have come from the grid or somewhere -  the area I was in was on a saltwater beach and marsh.  A well?  Unlikely -- I mean I am not hydrologist, but I am guessing that a beachy island in a saltwater marsh doesn't have a lot of freshwater wells to tap into.  And, if the park tap water was not potable, there was non-potable water around that would make sense to use to also water a lawn about 50 yards away.  All these random thoughts ran through my head as I ran the second half of my run.

I also figured that there is simply no way that 10 ounces or so of that water could possibly be harmful.  I mean, animals must drink it (I saw a couple deer drinking it also).  And there must be any number of people who consume it someway somehow.  And seemed not to affect my run at all, at least other than provide a bit of mental diversion as i ran.  I am sure in the wilderness it is a superbad idea.  But I wasn't in the wild looking at a pool of stagnant pond scum; I was in the Hamptons.

Does anyone know effect of drinking non-potable water, that is provided by a municipality? 

And another super cool thing.  On  my route there was an automated speed limit checker thing that told cars how fast they were going.  And, it clocked me as I was running.  It was pretty awesome to see a machine clock me running at 08 miles per hour and flash that out it big, blinking numbers..


  1. One of my friends last year got a picture of one of those speed signs tracking the big group of people she was with in the Bolder Boulder doing 7 miles per hour. I loved that photo!

    Not sure on the water question....I probably wouldn't have drunk it unless I were really thirsty....You see those signs around here too.

  2. I saw one of those speed checking signs on the other side of town - when next I'm there, must get out and try for 15 kph!

    In the 90s we used to run this 24k loop through the mountains and we'd stop for 'fresh' water at the one creek crossing.. until the day one runner walked upstream a bit for a leak and found a dead cow in the water.

  3. Non-potable water is not safe to drink. All irrigation water is considered non-potable. Irrigation water could be tied into a potable source or from recycled water. I will explain both, first when tied in to potable water the irrigator must install a backflow preventer. Anything after the backflow preventer is considered non-potable. Why you may ask if it's coming from a potable source? Well you could get sick from dog urine if dog has peed on sprinkler head or from herbicide the local landscaper applied a while back or worse insecticide which messes up your nervous system. All these contaminants have the potential to backflow into the irrigation system; the backflow device is there to prevent it from going into the potable source and yes people it does fail so have it inspected at least once a year. If water is coming from a non-potable source for example recycled water you are in great risk of getting sick. Recycled water is used in irrigation systems too and cannot be tied to any source containing potable water. Why? Well recycled water is also know as treated sewage water (black water) you can also find this being applied after a septic tank in an irrigation system but could also be provided by the local water distributors. Well what's so bad about it if it's treated? The problem is, it regenerates. This is always marked in PURPLE signs don't ever drink anything coming from purple pipe. You would be drinking sewage water if you do. One more thing other sources of water like reclaimed water could also be in the irrigation system although reclaimed water is not sewage water is also non-potable. Reclaimed water could be coming from a lake or captured rainwater. Again reclaimed water could be treated with chemicals making it non-potable. So please restrain yourselves from drinking irrigation water is not safe and non-potable and who knows where it could be coming from. If your right eye is twitching and your left isn't is time to go see a health specialist. Thank you for reading my comment is long but very informative and should answer your question.

    ---- your find in Texas
    Licensed Irrigator
    Licensed Backflow Tester


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