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  • Writer's pictureTeena

Is Drinking From a Stream, River, or Lake Safe?

Can You Drink Lake, Pond, or Stream Water?

When you're thirsty, it's tempting to grab a drink from a river or stream. But is that safe?

I know people that got sick from drinking water straight from a lake or stream. You might think that if the water looks clean, it must be safe to drink. But even clean-looking rivers and lakes can have microorganisms (germs) in them that can make you sick.

People who get infected with these germs may also become infected with Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum. These are parasites that live in human digestive systems but can also affect other parts of your body as well.

When you're thirsty, it's tempting to grab a drink from a river or stream.

But is that safe?

The short answer: no.

You should never drink water directly from streams, lakes, or rivers without first purifying it with a filter or boiling process. Even then, there are risks involved with drinking untreated water from any source because of bacteria and other contaminants that could make you sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people get sick from consuming contaminated drinking water every year in the U.S., but this can be prevented by following simple guidelines when choosing your next refreshment spot:

What's in the water?

So, you've decided to go for a swim in a nearby lake or stream. But before you strip down and dive in headfirst, there are some things you should know about what could be lurking below the surface of your favorite swimming hole.

First: bacteria. Lots of them! In fact, there's such an obscene amount of bacteria in most bodies of freshwater that they don't even need names anymore--they're simply referred to as "bacterial colonies."

These guys thrive on organic matter like decaying leaves and animal feces that gets washed into streams from forests above them (and sometimes also from people peeing and pooing into them). They feed off this stuff. Then they reproduce by splitting themselves in half until there are too many little bacteria cells for any one body part to sustain itself. These dead ends die off while new ones take their place until eventually there's enough food available for everyone again and everything starts over again at full strength--which means more poop being deposited into rivers/streams/lakes every day!

drink stream water
Drinking Stream Water

Most Streams and Lakes Contain Microorganisms (Germs) That Can Make You Sick

You've heard the old saying, "It's better to be safe than sorry." The same can be said for drinking water from a stream or lake.

Most streams and lakes contain microorganisms (germs) that can make you sick if they are present in the water, so it's important to know if your water source is safe before drinking it.

Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasites. These germs can cause diarrhea (intestinal illness), Hepatitis A virus infections and Giardia lamblia infections among others if ingested by humans or animals such as dogs and cats who drink from these sources too!

You might think that all microorganisms or bacteria are bad but actually, there are some beneficial ones too--they help maintain our health.

Really! Giardia Looks Like Monkeys!

Common Fresh Water Contaminants Include Giardia, Cryptosporidiosis, & Norovirus

If you're a fan of water sports, there are a few things you should know about the potential dangers lurking in freshwater.

While most people are familiar with the risks associated with swimming in oceans or lakes--such as sharks and blood suckers--there are also some less obvious dangers lurking in our rivers, streams, and ponds.

Here are some common infections that can be contracted from drinking unfiltered water from these sources:

1. Giardiasis is an infection caused by a microscopic parasite (Giardia lamblia) that causes diarrhea and abdominal pain. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting; if left untreated giardiasis can lead to serious health problems such as malnutrition or even death.

2. Cryptosporidiosis is another parasite-based illness caused by drinking contaminated water; symptoms include diarrhea that lasts longer than two weeks.

3. Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach lining which leads to nausea followed by vomiting -- sometimes so severe it results in dehydration requiring hospitalization.

4. Hepatitis A virus causes inflammation of liver cells with symptoms including feverishness followed by jaundice (yellowing eyes), dark urine, pale stools.

5. Hepatitis B virus causes acute viral hepatitis -- feverishness followed by jaundice (yellowing eyes), dark urine & pale stools -- which may progress into liver failure if left untreated.

6.Cholera has been virtually eliminated from developed countries due largely to advances made through public health measures like chlorinating municipal drinking water supplies.

However, there have been recent outbreaks occurring mostly among refugees fleeing conflict zones where sanitation conditions were poor.

People Who Get Infected With Cryptosporidium Can Get Infected With Giardia Lamblia

Cryptosporidium and Giardia are both parasites that can cause diarrhea.

They're transmitted in the same ways and treated with the same medications, so if you've been diagnosed with either one of them (or both), don't worry: it's not a big deal!

Giardia Makes You SICK!

Giardia Lamblia Causes Gastrointestinal Symptoms Like Diarrhea and Cramping

Giardia lamblia is a single-celled parasite that can cause diarrhea and cramping. It can spread to other people through contaminated water, but it's easily treated with antibiotics.

While you're out camping or hiking, be sure to use safe water sources like spring water (or bottled) instead of rivers or lakes.

If you do drink from natural bodies of water, boil your water first: the Centers for Disease Control recommends bringing your drinking supply to a rolling boil for one minute before drinking it--and then letting it cool down completely before drinking.

Symptoms Usually Last Only a Few Days But Are Worse With Diarrhea

If you're planning on drinking from a river or stream, there are a few things you should know.

Symptoms usually last only a few days but they may be worse if you have diarrhea.

Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea (usually watery) and cramping (a sudden pain in your stomach).

  • Dehydration

  • Headache

Drinking from streams, rivers, and lakes can also make it easier for you to get sick from foodborne illnesses such as E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella poisoning

You should also avoid drinking water from streams, rivers and lakes. Water in these environments can be contaminated with bacteria like E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella poisoning.

The reason that this is a concern? When you're out on the trail and thirsty, it's easy to forget about proper hygiene when you're trying to get some quick relief from your thirst.

If you don't have access to potable water or bottled beverages (and even if you do), there are ways for hikers and backpackers alike who want to stay safe while enjoying their favorite outdoor activities:

  • Bring along extra purification tablets for emergencies--but don't rely on them alone! They won't work if there isn't enough sunlight or heat available during treatment; they also won't work if there's too much sediment present in your water source (think leaves/dirt).

  • Always boil any questionable source before drinking it--this means five minutes minimum at high elevation or 10 minutes minimum at sea level!

You shouldn't drink surface water unless you first purify it by boiling it for at least five minutes

The best way to purify water is to boil it.

Boiling kills bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that can make you sick. If you're boiling water in a camp stove or on a fire pit (and not backpacking), then make sure the water comes to a full rolling boil for at least five minutes.

If you're using an iodine tablet, wait one minute after adding the tablet before drinking your purified water as per instructions on the bottle of tablets. Do not use iodine if there are any signs of contamination such as taste or smell; these could indicate dangerous chemicals in the water which would be made more concentrated by adding an iodine solution!

Tap Water vs. Bottled Water

Municipal water is a good choice for drinking and cooking.

It's treated to ensure it's safe to drink, and it comes out of your tap ready to go.

Bottled water has been treated too, but it also has to be transported from its source (which means more fuel use), packaged in plastic bottles (which can take centuries or more than 500 years to decompose), then shipped around the country or across oceans before you buy it at a store near you.

This creates waste that ends up in landfills where they leach dangerous chemicals into groundwater sources that eventually make their way back into our bodies when we drink from those same wells!

Bottled water companies often advertise their product as being cleaner than tap water because they use filters on top of what city systems do--but this isn't always true; many municipal systems have stricter standards than private ones do!

Also: If there's one thing everyone knows about this planet right now? It's that we need less plastic packaging waste clogging up our landfills and oceans alike.

In's important to test the water you drink. That is the only way you'll know if your water needs to be treated.

I created a Patent Pending Homemade Well Water Filter because I had contaminated well water and couldn't afford up to $10,000 and a monthly maintenance fee of a commercial system.

It fixed my water and can fix yours too!

I created a course to walk you through the process of building a whole house - inline well water filter.

It will save you up to $10,000 and healthy and clean water!

Please reach out with any questions or comments!


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