Water from Lake Erie and the Hudson

Because Lake Erie and the Hudson are polluted with things other than disease-causing microbes (ie chemicals, some of which are carcinogens), are they still safe to drink from with a typical backpacking water filter, or would it be a better idea to pack water and refill at parks/towns?

You are joking right?
No a filter only strains out small mircro-organisms has no effect on organic chemical pollutants and heavy metal salts.

Safe or not
several communities supplement their water supply there. Personally, I wouldn’t.

Just curious
Why do you choose Lak Erie and the Hudson? They are seperated by several bodies of water which are all polluted as much.

if your backpack filter has a charcoal
component, like many tap water filters, it may remove the chemical contaminants as well as the biological contaminants.

Check the labeling.

My tap water has TPE and hexavalent chromium in it, so who knows, the water from Erie might be better than my tap water.

Thats why we filter everything we drink.

Cheers, Kaps

It would be better to use other sources,
but considering that you would be using that water only a few days of your life, it would be better than dehydration.

drink up
there are probably more chemicals in your tap water than in the lake, and higher concentrations too.

Tap water from a municipal supply is treated with chlorine.

PCBs are the Breakfast of Champions!
Someone recently told me the Erie Canal water(that connects Hudson to the Lake)is really some of the best drinkin’ water around.(;-)(Inside joke.)

Daughter lives in New Orleans, lower
9th ward near the Industrial Canal. She filters the water, but I drink it right out of the tap. At my age, there isn’t time for it to give me cancer.

water filters
A good microfilter will be sufficient for chemical removal for a short duration(a few weeks, couple months?) in my opinion.

For instance the MSR miniworks, which uses a ceramic filter element down to 0.2 microns, says in the manual that it is “effective against chemicals/toxins”. But it goes on to say not to use the filter on water from “mining tailing ponds or large agricultural operations”.

I take this to mean that the filter is effective at removing a large enough percentage of chemicals to make water safe to drink (by tap water standards) when filtering your average toxic water, but not hypertoxic water. I’d say if it looks and smells basically like water and not cesspool gravy, your good to go.

(and no lake erie cesspool jokes, it’s my favorite lake!)

and one more thing
least the Hudson has so much sediment flowing in it , it will clog up the filter in a very short time .

If yer planning on trip on it I maybe able to help out w/some info , just ask .


I have some really lush farm land
in the Great Salt Lake Desert I’d like to sell you.

After you read the brochure I’m sure you would buy anything.

The question is what data do they have on their filters?

A simple ceramic filter will not remove small organic chemicals and heavy metal ions.

you sure?
I know that MSR spends quite a lot of money on research, employing a full-time microbiologist on staff developing/testing/refining filter products. They have to deal with litigation for sure, so for them to put in writing that a filter is effective on chemicals says a lot.What you get out of a simple looking hand operated microfilter pump (either ceramic or synthetic) is usually better quality than your tap water.

What i ususally do to treat water in any of the great lakes is filter, then treat with chlorine dioxide. If it looks very silty, then just prefilter with a cotton bandana to remove the big stuff and then go to town with the pump.

Relax, you’ll be fine. No sense in lugging around a boat load of bottled water. Do you know how many people live on/around/near lake erie? And do you know what most of their water source is? Bing! The lake.

What about the Strontium 90?
Do you think an MSR filter will take that out?

Yeah, this summer my brother and I are doing about 900 miles from MI to NJ via the Huron River, Lake Erie, Erie Canal and the Hudson. Never been on those bodies of water for a long enough time to have to worry about drinking water from them (out where I am at school in the Pacific NW, just finding non-salty water is the problem!).

If you have any tips on the area, I’m all ears.

Here is what Seadart is saying.

– Last Updated: Mar-08-10 11:17 PM EST –

A filter that removes particles as small as 0.2 microns is just as effective at removing chemical contaminants from water as the open door of an airplane hanger is at keeping out the starlings that make their nests in the rafters and poop on you as you walk underneath them. You are probably right, as others have said too, that drinking this water (especially on a part-time basis) presents no real danger, but I'd hazard a guess that municipal water suppliers do a lot more than filter this water. Many chemical contaminants can be removed from water by treatments which take advantage of their chemical properties, but no filter is fine enough to "screen out" molecules from water. A few pretty dangerous compounds consist of molecules that aren't all that much bigger than the water molecules themselves! Think about that.

By the way, you mention that MSR has a microbiologist on staff. We were talking about chemical contaminants, not microbes, so here's another analogy to put this in perspective. Filtering microbes out of the water is as easy as using window screens to keep birds out of your house, and filtering out viruses is more like using that same window screen to keep out mosquitoes. Actually, I'm not sure a filter has yet been made that will actually screen-out viruses. I think chemically inactivating the viruses is what the best camping filters do (it's hard to use the word "kill" regarding viruses when they may not actually be properly defined as "alive" in the first place). To go back to the original analogy, making a filter to capture things a million-times smaller than a mosquito when a window screen is the best material you have is a lost cause.

An no, I DON'T believe everything MSR says about their filters, especially when heard second-hand. Everything I've ever read MYSELF in various magazine reviews says that camping filters don't do a thing to remove industrial pollutants, unless they also use activated charcoal, but even that system only works on certain compounds, and using the airplane-hanger door analogy once again (since the water passes through pore space in the charcoal filter), consider that lots of water can make it through a charcoal filter without even contacting the charcoal itself, so a single pass can't be expected to be completely effective.

Why would you . . .
. . . want to take that out? Don’t you want to glow in the dark? I drank unfiltered Mississippi River water for about 2 1/2 months, treated with chlorine bleach. No ill effects except for slight webbing of the toes and a persistant tick.

Public Water
While most of the municipalities upstream of the salt wedge (ends at about Newburgh, NY) take their drinking water from the Hudson finding places to get tap water shouldn’t be too hard. It’s not like the mid-upper Hudson is truly out in the wilds. Should reduce some if the wear on your filter to boot.

If your passing Hyde Park you can always give a call and I’ll pop down to open the Boathouse.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.


find other water
I have been backpacking for 30 years and never treated my water but I have never chosen to drink from anything other than fast brook. Whenever I hike I check the map for shortest and fastest possible cascading brook and then upon inspection I decide whether I take the chance of drinking it or not. Whenever possible I do boil it to make food or tea…

If I were you I would map out sources along the way where you could buy water or get water that doesn’t come from a big river near human, animal and industrial discharges.

a little more info
Sorry i gotta bump this up again. This is an interesting topic.

So, the reason i brought up the microbiologist is becuase i got to meet her and she was really cool. She came to my shop to do a free clinic for people on water treatment. This is her job. Not too bad. One of the interesting things that she talked about was how a filter can remove things that are actually smaller than the porosity of the filter. So in the case we’ve been talking about - a .2 micron filter can remove some things smaller than .2 microns. It can do this becuase of electrical charges. Say a heavy metal or toxic chemical ion is going to have a net positive or negative charge attached to it. This means that it’s going to be attracted to other stuff in the water with the opposite charge, say a particle of dirt or a microorganism. So these tiny chemical atoms, while many orders of magnitude smaller than the filter size, will get removed because they are clumped up on to each other and other items that are big enough to be caught in the filter.

I thought that was a pretty sweet. Goes to show that you can’t always assume the obvious.

A .2 micron filter, interestingly enough, is small enough to physically screen out 99.99 percent of viruses. Some by way of the method described above and some that are big enough to get stuck on their own. That sounds like a lot. But when you consider that there can be millions of viruses in one drop of water and it only takes one virus to make you sick, then that extra .001 percent is huge. So yeah, if you are worried about viruses then nuke em with chemicals or UV light.

I know some of you either won’t believe me or choose to argue and slam people because it’s fun. That’s cool, that’s your thing. Whatever.

But to the OP: get a good filter. Get some aquamira or other chemical treatment. And drink bottled water when it’s around. But if you have to filter some water you’re going to be fine.