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WaterBoy & Health WaterBoy and Health

The health aspects of your water tank...

In both tank and stream water there is a vast array of micro-organisms, most of them are harmless to humans, however there are some common ones that can cause minor stomach upsets and diarrhoea. These usually only last a day or two, although the more serious can last months and require medical intervention but fortunately these are less common.

The organisms present fall into 3 distinct biological categories and these are:

Bacteria:
Commonly known as germs. There are many varieties of bacteria in your water and the majority are completely harmless but there are several varieties that are common and often cause problems. E-coli and Campylobacter are common and when ingested in sufficient quantities cause dysentery. The actual concentration of these bacteria in the water is a very good indication of the water quality. Obviously the fewer the better.

The conditions on the bottom of most tanks provides a good environment for these bugs and they multiply, feeding on the small quantity of nutrients available at the bottom of the tank. These nutrients are primarily provided by the breakdown of organic matter, a process that itself depletes oxygen, resulting in a low oxygen zone near the bottom that , in general favours the bad bugs. Interestingly, in spite of their tiny size these bacteria as well as the following 2 groups are subject to gravity and settle to the bottom of the tank. This happens in streams to a certain extent but the current in a stream helps to distribute the micro-organisms. In a water tank there is little current except when it nears empty and new water falls in from the top. So in a stream the safest water to drink is from the top of a deep pool with as little current as possible. The same is true of your tank.

Bacteria, as with the following organisms, are mostly spread in the faeces of birds and animals. In order to reproduce they need to find a host and water is a good method of dispersal for them. When the infected water is drunk by a person or animal diarrhea occurs and the cycle is repeated.

Protozoa:
This group of single celled organisms include the very unpleasant parasites Giardia and Cryptosporidium that live and breed in the intestines of mammals and birds. The symptoms of infection are stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, fatigue and general wasting. The method they use to disperse is in the form of tiny cysts, basically a capsule containing the parasite in a dormant form. It can then remain in water for a long time becoming active when conditions are right ie when it is ingested by a person or animal drinking it. It then breeds rapidly in the gut and continues to produce hundreds of thousands of cysts that are expelled in the hosts faeces to re-infect others.

It is quite difficult to test for these creatures as only one or two may be present in large quantities of water, however one is enough to start an infection. Luckily most tanks have few or no cysts present though it appears the chances are much higher if rodents or possums can access the roof or if the tank is filled from a stream.

Viruses:
Tiny enough to 'live' in individual cells they are very hard to detect and so little is known about their distribution. It is known that Hepatitis A can definitely survive in tanks and polio too though polio is no longer considered a threat due to immunisations. Bird Flu? Who knows, but it would seem likely as birds are the most likely creatures to be hanging around on your roof.

Impurities (i.e. dirt, leaves, paint flakes, insects):
Whilst not strictly a health issue impurities in your tank are more obvious, mainly because, unlike microscopic disease organisms, they can be seen. They also create problems such as blocking filters on dishwashers, washing machines, taps and showers which is annoying. As previously mentioned impurities quickly reduce the efficiency of the filters some people use to ensure our tank water is safe to drink. An interesting fact from a recent Health Department survey (2006) found 10% of people on tanks have these filters and a staggering 70% of those people had significant disease organisms AFTER filtering. This is probably due to an incorrect filter type and/or premature blockage of them due to impurities. This also reduces water pressure.

A WaterBoy unit will drastically reduce these problems immediately and permanently.

Summary
In conclusion it must be conceded that illness is a definite possibility as a result of drinking tank water.

That said it is also a 'lucky dip'. If your resistance is low it will be more likely and if you drink a lot of water the chances are increased also. Gastrointestinal illness may come from your water or  from your food.

Water testing can give you some indication of the state of your water but only at the time it was taken. The quality of the water can change rapidly with temperature, rainfall frequency and the seasonal behaviour of birds and animals.

We truly believe that the WaterBoy is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your water, both long and short term.

Other simple steps such as removing overhanging branches from your roof, removing access to your roof for animals and keeping your gutters clean will ensure you can drink as much and as freely as you like of the delicious, quality water, so essential to human health and without the doubts of its purity.

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