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All About Water It's all about water

We need water to live. Without food a person may live for a month to 6 weeks but without water survival is down to a matter of days. Adults lose about 2-3 litres of water per day depending on age, weather and exercise. To replace lost water and to maintain good health, dieticians recommend that we drink around 8 glasses of water per day.

Of course, maintaining good health demands that our drinking water not contain anything to jeopardise that. Yet, in the journey to the tap, the water cannot help but pick up impurities. Their effect ranges from aesthetic (i.e., the water has an unpleasant taste, appearance or odour) to harmful and even life threatening. For instance, in 2000, contaminated water in Walkerton, Ontario, resulted in more than 2000 people becoming ill, with 65 being hospitalised and 7 dying. Two major bacterial contaminants were discovered: a disease-causing strain of E. coli which caused a sometimes fatal condition called "haemolytic uraemic syndrome" and Campylobacter, a bacteria from human and animal waste that causes gastroenteritis. (See Waterborne Outbreak of Gastroenteritis Associated With a Contaminated Municipal Water Supply, Walkerton, Ontario, May-June 2000)

Public water authorities in each state use a selection of approved chemicals to treat drinking water (see Public Water Supplies). Despite this treatment, there are still situations where the water may be contaminated (see, for example, "Drinking water failing the test" and so Boil Water Alerts are issued.

Even private water supplies are not immune from impurities. Contaminated water supplies have been responsible for major outbreaks of severe gastric illnesses such as gastroenteritis and infections caused by the Cryptosporidium and Giardia organisms (see Private Water Supplies).

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