Green River - drinking water

I’m considering paddling the Green River in September for those who have paddled it, what was your solution for drinking water?

Did you carry all you needed? Filter? Boil? Some combination, e.g. carry drinking water, boil for cooking and other camp needs? I’ve read a few people that in some places the salt content is high and filtering doesn’t get it out.

On the Rio Grande
We carried drinking water and used treated river water for camp use. Treat by sprinkling a little alum on the surface of a five gallon bucket of muddy water. Allow to settle overnight, then siphon off the clear water. Use Aquamira or other chemical treatment to purify.

This treated water can be used for washing or cooking, but the treatment does not remove any of the salts.


On the Dolores, which cuts through salt
domes, I carried water for three days in the form of bottled water bought at Walmart, and carried in mesh bags tied down in the boat. I have a platypus bag, but there was enough gear in the boat that the platypus offered no advantage. As I emptied water bottles, I put the empties back in the mesh bags as flotation. I was paddling solo, no support rafts or sharing of load.

On the San Juan, as I recall we were on the river six nights with one resupply at Mexican Hat. The river water was not treatable. Support rafts carried water and ice, we were rather spoiled.

If you have to carry your water on the Green, plan to keep the load low and not subject to sloshing. I know the lower Green to the Colorado junction is flat, but if you’re on the Desolation/Gray section, you don’t want your load loose and moving around.

I think carry drinking water, and treat for camp use looks the best way. Saves some weight while meeting the required water.

I’m looking at doing the lower Green; Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons.

small amount of bleach in river water
purifies for use as wash water

we carried
We carried all water… two- 5 gallon jugs.

You could use alum, let settle over night and then filter…that will add some time to your week.

Carried drinking water
We carried all of our drinking water for trip down Labyrinth Canyon. Some was in 5-gal carboys and some was frozen in 2 Qt. plastic bottles (rectangular ones like cranberry juice comes in) as ice in the cooler and used for drinking as it melted.

For handwashing and dish washing, we used this two bucket system with a squeeze bulb. As another poster already mentioned, we used a bit of bleach in our dish water to disinfect it. Set it up as soon as you get into camp to maximize settling time. Rubber gloves are a good idea to protect your skin from the chlorine.[user]=64454757&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=0

Water treatment
We have a friend who works with municipal water treatment plants. On our last trip on the Green, he gave us a small bottle of something called AQ-101. Mix 6-8 drops per gallon, stir for 10 min, let settle for 20 min. It was pretty amazing, we mixed it in a 5 gal pail and in a half hour we had crystal clear water. We then used Aqua Mira in it.

Green R
I paddled the Green 20 years ago and we filtered all of our water. I don’t like to carry a lot of drinking water because of the weight. We used some containers to settle out the sediment, a prefilter, and then a cleanable pump filter. Drinking water with some fine particles in it for a few days will not hurt you at all. The total dissolved solids are largely clay particles that readily bind to everything you eat and pass through readily.


We paddle Labyrinth just last week.

We carried water in plastic jerry cans, I like the shape. We lay them flat on bottom center to keep the center of gravity low. The downside; Carrying all your water is heavy and bulky. But, if you tried using just a filter it would be plugged within a few pumps, the river is that silty.

On this trip we tried out the Alum method too, works great.

Scoop up river water in a small bucket,

Put a teaspoon of Alum in it,

Stir with a stick for one minute (in one direction)

Within minutes you’ll see the sediment dropping to the bottom,

After a half hour or so scoop the clear water out into another container, being careful not to disturb the bottom,

Filter as you normally would.

Trip report?

Just got off the Green
My second trip. Its much different in September when there is lower water. Last week it ran from 6000 to 12000 cfs.

In May we found waterseeps dripping water and fresh clear pools. ( we also had Winter Storm Zeus which brought up the river and made side canyons inlets and good sources of relatively silt free water). Side canyons where water settles out is rare in September.

We brought 12 gallons for two for freshwater over a nine day trip but did not use it all as there was other sources available.

I don’t care for the taste alum gives and thankfully we did not have to use it ( I have one pound! from We just used an MSR gravity filter. We did let any silt settle out in a spare dishpan before filtering but Horsethief Canyon had amazing silt free water as did Anderson and Jasper.

If you can get the Kelsey book which gives the approximate location of many fresh water sources. Take alum and take a filter and as much fresh as you can… and you will be all set for any eventuality.

I’m going to need a bigger boat
My Magic with gear and freshwater maybe too small.