5,626 forum posts
And I do mean extreme! I am asking for some input here from people who have had experience dealing with the problems to be described. (WHAT!!! The OGBO is asking for information????)
As most here know, I have dealt with a wide range of conditions from desert to Arctic/Antarctic. I have used (successfully, since I have never gotten any water-borne illnesses when in the woods and hills) a number of approaches (filters, chemicals, boiling, UV, and even - gasp! - purchasing commercially bottled water). I know to avoid situations like we have in my local hills where there are abandoned mercury mines that produce chemical runoff into the streams and reservoirs (yes, Almaden Valley, just a hop and skip from Silicon Valley, no jump needed, just go for a hike in Almaden-Quicksilver County Park).
The situation is this - we are headed for Africa for a photo-safari. We will be camping out for a couple weeks, and at least some of the water sources will be shared with critters like elephants, lions, etc, who stir up lots of mud and don't bother with LNT practices like disposing of their organic waste 200 feet from the water.
I have been trying various experiments like making muddy water by mixing sandy and clay dirt into water and trying various methods to remove enough of the material before treating. A Steripen, for example, requires clear water to work, and filters clog quickly. In my experiments, I have tried prefiltering with coffee filters and pre-filters from the filter manufacturers, as well as filter bags from a chemical supply house (supposed to remove stuff down to less than a micron), plus letting the water stand overnight to settle the sediment and decant. All of these leave cloudy water with some coloration, too cloudy for a Steripen, and murky enough to clog a pump filter after just a few gallons. Basically, none of the prefilters work to a sufficient level.
So, the problem is - how does one clarify the water sufficiently to have a multiweek use of a pump filter (hopefully reducing the daily scrubbing of the cleanable filters to a weekly or less level) and/or to let a Steripen work? Yes, boiling makes the water sterile, but there is this murky junk to drink - safe enough, but not aesthetically appealing. Chemical treatment (iodine or chlorine based) is effective, but again leaves the water murky.
Remember, this is an advanced question, not your basic, "how can I get pure water in the Sierra, Rockies, or Presidentials" question. Techniques that have worked for me on glacial till and volcanic ash don't seem to be working here.