If your water comes from a private source, such as a ground well or flowing spring, there are some important facts you should know.
v People drawing water from private wells are responsible for assuring that the water is safe for consumption.
v The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency only requires that municipal water sources be tested for about 80 of the 75,000 known contaminants.
v The standards for safe drinking water are established for a 175-pound healthy adult and may not be satisfactory for children, women who are pregnant or nursing, or adults with compromised immune systems.
There are many methods that can be used to purify water and each one is best for removing a certain type of impurity or contaminant but may not be effective at all for others. Some of the more common water purification technologies are:
v Distilliation – Water is heated to boiling and then cooled to condense the water vapor. Impurities are filtered out by the evaporation
o Effective for: bacteria, lead, nitrate, sodium chloride, organic chemicals and pesticides
o Pros: removes a wide range of contaminants, reusable
o Cons: slow, requires a large amount of water and energy
v Carbon Filtration – Water is passed through an activated carbon filter that absorbs odors, flavors, organic compounds and many hazardous chemicals
o Effective for: hydrogen sulfide, radon, chlorine, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, benzene, colors and orders
o Pros: removes objectionable odors and flavors
o Cons: won’t remove heavy metals and the filter must be replaced periodically
v Ion Exchange – water is percolated through a layer of resin beads that have a sodium exchange coating to “soften” water before using other treatment methods
o Effective for: nitrates, sulfates, fluorides, iron, magnesium, calcium and manganese
o Pros: removes dissolved minerals and metals effectively at a relatively low initial cost
o Cons: doesn’t remove bacteria – in fact, beads can become breading ground for bacteria
v Micro Filtration – water is passed through a porous filter to remove sediments and suspended materials
o Effective for: sediments
o Pros: removes all suspended impurities larger than filter pore size
o Cons: doesn’t removed dissolved contaminants
v Ultraviolet Radiation – low level ultraviolet light kills bacterial and viral pathogens but leaves no radioactive trace
o Effective for: bacteria, viruses
o Pros: sanitizes water
o Cons: doesn’t remove suspended particles or ions
As you can see, no single purification method removes ALL the contaminants from water and you may have to employ several methods to make your water safe for drinking and cooking.
There’s nothing like being in the wilderness, surrounded by nature- unless you need to answer nature’s call. Portable toilets are an essential tool for campers, Robinson Crusoe-style island users and hikers, and help keep your surroundings sanitary and uncontaminated. Even for island owners who intend to install full-scale utilities, some provisional washrooms may be necessary for initial periods, and for the labor that may be on the island for extended lengths of time during the development phase.One of the most complete solutions on the market is from Philips Environmental Products Inc., an innovative company that pioneered the foldable, dry-waste toilet. With a variety of applications ranging from disaster relief to boating and eco-friendly camping, the PETT Compact Dry Toilet System is ideal for island use. The toilet itself collapses to the size of a suitcase, and waste is collected in single-use bags filled with a sanitizing powder that solidifies waste and prevents odor and spillage during storage. A special tent is even available for privacy, making this a portable restroom that virtually anyone would feel comfortable using.
On a relatively closed ecosystem like a private island, owners are often uniquely aware of the value of recycling, reusing and cutting down on waste. When creating too much trash involves a trek to a mainland dump or the loss of valuable landfill space, composting becomes a necessary activity. And not only does composting make your island more eco-friendly, it also provides a handy way of creating rich garden fertilizer.
Good compost has a careful balance of “browns” and “greens”, or materials rich in carbon and nitrogen, respectively. Brown materials include fallen leaves, twigs, and bits of wood, all of which are often gathered up anyway in island clearing and maintenance. The green types of refuse needed for successful compost can be organic food castoffs like fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags, seaweed and lawn clippings, all of which decompose quickly, especially if chopped up a bit prior to being added to the pile. It is recommended that the best ratio of “browns” to “greens” is about 25-1. This compost guide provides a thorough list of all of the types of materials that make for nutrient-rich compost:
While compost can be created in a very low-tech manner, there are products available to speed up the process (and minimize odors, too). The Tunbleweed composter is a large bin that can be rotated to help facilitate decay, and with daily rotation produces about 4 loads of compost in the time it takes a stationary bin or pile to produce one. In hot summer months, you can have dark, healthy compost for your garden in as little as three weeks.
For those opting for a stationary compost method, this tool is invaluable in ensuring your compost gets the air needed to properly decay. The Turning Garden Tool is a long device with 7-inch “wings” at the end that spread out to move your compost pile around with minimal effort.
Like many types of low-lying waterfront property, islands may be prone to collecting pools of water that can not only disturb the island’s use, but pose a serious health hazard. Whether caused by storms, erosion or just naturally-occurring, these tepid pools can form a breeding ground for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes and flies. Swamp or marsh areas of the island may also be undesirable aesthetically, or interfere with intended construction. Getting rid of excess water is a simple project that requires some help from a durable water pump.
Water harvesting is one of the oldest ‘crops’ in the world. As long ago as 2,000 years, human civilizations have relied on rain to settle, sustain, and sow land of all variety. Deserts in the Negev, nomads in Africa, and elaborate Roman villas in Italy have all been designed to exploit the common aspects of rain collecting. The efficacy of the practice is testified to by the fact that water harvesting is still around today. The world’s largest existing water tank was built around 600 B.C. and remains standing and in use in Turkey. Remote areas are still dependent on some amount of rainfall for a variety of purposes…any one of which is part of the mosaic of human survival. Rain water allows for supplementary crop maintenance, dilution, human consumption, and support for a variety of livestock.Islands are common locations for water harvesting, especially using rainwater. Islands that are relatively close to a mainland often have water piped or carried in. Despite any distinctions between island and mainland rainwater harvesting, there are three common engineering elements: collection, conveyance, and storage. How these three interrelated elements are applied to their environment, however, vary greatly between urban and island environments. Read more »