Friday, January 30, 2009

Water...And something I noticed about jobs.

The other day the water filter lady came by to change our water filter.

The problem we have here with water is a perfect example of the survival mentality required for the post economical collpae lifestyle.

Water is life. Anyone knows that. You don’t live long without it and people usually take it for granted, survivalists know that particularly well.
You should beep several galons of water stored at home for emergecy use.
But what happens with our tap water here in Buenos Aires?

We occasionally loose service for a while, specially in summer, and in some places people have been without water for over a week ( yo should try that) but we do have tap water.

Well, at least 65% of the people in the Buenos Aires southern suburbs has.
Of course I pay for my tap water, only difference is that my bill, unlike you lucky guys, has a small warning ( smallest letter size, of couse) at the bottom:
"This water should not be consumed by pregnant women or children under 3 years of age."

That’s nice. Contaminated tap water. How is this possible?
Our government simply approves a terrible standard for our water. So the water company has a right to provide bad tap water, that would be illegal in any serious country.

It’s of course dirty with small particles and full of dead microorganisms. Dead because of the chlorine.

You see, instead of actually going through a real purifying process, they just filter it a bit and dump lots of chlorine so as to make it potable, or at least so that no one dies from ecoli and sews them.

Nice thing about cancer is that unlike polluted water, it’s almost impossible to prove that your cancer was provoked by the excessive chlorine in water, or the heavy metal or arsenic.

So, the filter I have filters everything, but also absorbs the chlorine out of the water, but it requires replacement every 3 years, you can’t just retro-feed it to clean it, because the absorbed chlorine stays in there and eventually it stops absorbing it.

The replacement cups filter the bigger particles and gets replaced every 3 months or so.

The lady came by to replace the filter and also left me a year supply of cups, and a couple other parts like little hoses the filter needs and may brake ( not likely but I keep some spare parts just in case)

The woman that came was actually the daughter of the woman that came last year, and this leads us to the second part of this post.

She’s a radiologist but lack of job made her start working with her mother.

This happens a lot these days. People that had different profesions or trades and went back to work with teh family due to lack of job.

In the old days kids just went their way, but now in many cases young people try to pick up the profession or trade of their parents.

Now, with the unemployment, it looks like an attractive alternative.

You often find father and son/daughter working together that are doctors, lawyers, accountants, or working in the same family business or trade.
The plumber, electrician or painter will usually come with his son that is slowly following dad’s or mom’s steps.

Just take this into consideration when or if you are about to choose a career or occupation.
Knowing that money will be better if the son picks up the family trade or business makes such profession much more attractive.

Just think about it, take it into consideration, and talk about it with your father or suggest it to your children.



Anonymous said...


What kind of water filter do you use?

FerFAL said...

I use PSA.


Prefiltering Cup (disposable)
Active carbon
Sivler impregnanted


Anonymous said...

This is why having a few of the Berkey Black filter elements for a DIY homemade filter makes sense. Can be found for $99 a pair on internet, and to me, is money in the bank. If you don't need it, someday, someone you love will.

I have a James Cup in bug out vest, but fumes from it ruined a nearby magnesium spark rod. Live and learn.

Thanks Ferfal for a great article.

Stuki said...

Don't be so hard on the waterworks :) Final filtering is best done as close to consumption as possible anyway, to minimize chances of water being contaminated between filtering and use.

As long as the waterworks dump in enough chlorine to make the water safe to wash any post filter pots, pans and glasses with, and to prevent you from getting sick from showers etc. they've done a a huge service already.

While awfully convenient to have potble water right from the tap, it requires good control over post treatment distribution. If destitute slum dwellers, for example, plug into water mains between the plant and you, or even steal the pipes, which from what I understand may well be a problem in BA, who knows what can enter the water. Better it be sufficiently chlorinated, and that there's an explicit understanding on behalf of customers that they should perform final filtering at home. That way unforseen incidents such as above is less likely to end tragically.

Anonymous said...

3 years is a pretty long time to go between filter changes unless it's one heck of a big carbon reservor tank.

Normally chlorine saturation would occur within six months at a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute (commercial use applications mostly). This does depend on the level of chlorine added to the water. Many activated charcoal filters are just that, filters, not purifiers. You'll need one that filters down to .5 microns for it to get the real nasty stuff out. And yes, .5 microns is smaller then .2 microns. The silver impregnation just helps in reducing growth within the filter housing.

Never only go by what the instructions say or what it claims, if you start noticing chlorine in the water then the activated carbon has reached its saturation point and won't filter out anymore even if you disassemble it and let the carbon dry in most cases. Activated carbon filters also become compacted and that may limit how much is removed from your water, a good rule of thumb is to once a month 'shake' the filter housing containing the carbon to uncompact it. Some home units are designed with a built in bypass system that once the filter is plugged up, or saturated, it by passes the filter and just dumps straight tap water.

Just some random thoughts. Clear water is my #1 priority ever since getting sick from bad water during a camping trip.

Anonymous said...

Hi FerFAL,

I had to ask this question:

Based on your experience in Argentina, when the currency collapses, what happens to debts denominated in that currency?

Like say I had a $20,000 debt, and the currency became worthless.

Could I take some gold and exchange it for huge sums of the failed currency and pay off that debt just like that? Essentially paying the debt of for a fraction of what it was when I took out the loan?

What if a family member has a large debt and they can't pay? Is there any risk there for other members of that family?

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Hi, very interesting viw point. We have a Real Estate company in Argentina that helps overseas investors to buy a property in Argentina. Check it out: Real Estate Argentina

Anonymous said...

Royal Doulton and some other company that makes Berkey water filters has gone bankrupt in Britain, so you may want to stock up on Berkey ceramic filters before they quit making them.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've got filtration too. Berkey with some carbon filters.

That is not really what I wanted to express though. I really appreciate that you talked about the fathers and son apprenticeship. I realize this is for economic reasons more then something choosen.

Here in the US, our family bonds and the rolls that we naturally fit into seem so displaced. We are suffering from the neglect and it's not "Politically Correct" but as a woman I'd rather be the touchstone for the family then Superworking soccer Mom..

WaterEngineer said...

I work as a water engineer in emergencies - refugee camps, war zones, etc.. There is basically nothing wrong in using chlorine - indeed this has been the standard sterilization route for water in the West for the last century. Very small systems use high concentration powder, medium systems liquid and large urban systems normally use gas chlorine. There are limits with regards residuals after treatment. These are designed so as to sterilize pipes in case of leakages sucking dirty ground water back into the pipe system - something which happens frequently, and to allow sterilization of any contaminated outlets - i.e. taps. If the water smells strongly of chlorine at the tap, allow it to sit for a while and the chlorine will eventually gas off. Normal contact time for the chlorine from being added to the water to sterilization is usually 30 minutes. Another reason for there being a residual of chlorine after this process is to ensure that enough chlorine was added to begin with to actually kill all bacteria. Testing for chlorine residual is simple - a basic swimming pool tester is more than adequate.

Ceramic filters are good but need to be maintained. The real problem with them is that they produce water only very slowly. The candles can be removed and gently scrubbed to clean them. I have kept the same filters going for considerable lengths of time by doing this. They can even be put into lightly chlorinated water with no damage to them - just rinse them off in fresh water after.

A good, standard way of producing drinking water which is very basic, and which can produce fairly large quantities quickly, is a slow-sand filter. This works by a biological filter developing on the surface of the filtrate medium - the sand - which actually eats any bacteria in the water. These are standard filters used around the world - in the case of dirty or turbid (meaning not clear) water, a gravel roughing filter and/or also a rapid sand filter can be used - these basically take out any suspended solids in the water. Removing turbidity if it is dissolved solids, especially organics, is more complicated and can require aeration as well as filtering, before going into the slow-sand filter.

Slow-sand filters can be built from household size up to large, village level sizes.

Information on design and use of slow-sand filters is widely available on the web. They are easy to construct, easy to use and pretty much low maintenance.

Another, very basic way of sterilizing water of bacteria is of course to boil it - at least 3 minutes at a low boil. This is not sustainable in the long term, but can produce drinkable water in small quantities relatively quickly - even turbid, or dirty water can be treated this way. It might not taste perfect but, unless it has a load of chemicals in it, it won't harm you. And don't forget, ceramic filters will not remove that many dissolved chemicals either!

Hope this is of use