No Running Water
There has not been a time when a beautiful lake has not been a part of my life. Growing up, my family spent every summer at a lake in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Swimming and hiking and wild berry treats were part of our daily routine.
That cottage is still in our family, but Mike and I also own a small place at another lake a little farther away. The cottage at Swago is much more rustic and does not have running water.
We have an outhouse, bathe in the lake, and boil lake water to wash dishes. And we have neighbors who, over the years, have been gracious enough to allow us access to their crystal clear well water for cooking and drinking.
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Our neighbors are elderly now and aren’t at the lake as much as they used to be, and we can only access their water when they are there. That has meant hauling bottled water to the lake on our weekly jaunts during the summer, or during hunting season in late fall.
We have coveted a Berkey Water Filter System so that we could filter and safely drink lake water, so you can imagine my delight when The Berkey contacted me and offered to send a Big Berkey for my use and review.
The Berkey Means We Can Safely Drink Lake Water
Our lake is sparsely populated and there is life in the lake that only grows in clean water, which is a great sign. But that doesn’t mean we want to drink it unfiltered.
It’s certainly possible that contaminants from our outhouse or nearby septic systems could get into the lake. One large hay field is near the lake and is at a higher elevation which means that any manure that is spread on the field can potentially run into the lake. And lakes can contain viruses, bacteria, protozoan, and parasites which can cause illness.
We bath in the lake and are careful with the soaps we use, but I don’t want to be drinking those soaps. And the potential for bleach or detergents from those on the lake who have washing machines is possible.
The Berkey’s goal is to remove as many contaminants as possible without removing the beneficial minerals in the water. The micro-pores within the Berkey filters are so small that viruses and pathogenic bacteria are not able to pass through them. That really sets my mind at ease.
The two black filters that came with our Big Berkey will filter 6000 gallons so that we can safely drink our lake water for years to come.
What Berkey Water Filters Remove
The Berkey water filter can remove:
- pathogenic bacteria
- petroleum contaminants
- heavy metals
- coliform and e-Coli
- gross alpha emitters
You can view test results here.
Setting up the Berkey
Setting up the Big Berkey was easy and straightforward. The filters need to be primed and a tan priming button was included. The button is pressed onto the stem of the filter and then onto a running faucet. We did struggle to do this without being sprayed with water. Hand priming pumps are available to use if you don’t have running water. We primed ours at home where we do have running water before taking it to the lake.
There is no way to see how much water is in the bottom container, so you have to lift the top to check if it’s time to add more water. A sight glass spigot is available for purchase and I’d have to have one if we were using the Big Berkey full time. For weekends at the lake, we’re good.
The stainless steel wire stand would also be handy; otherwise the Big Berkey must be at the edge of the counter to access the spigot.
The biggest drawback I see to the Berkey is the space it takes on the kitchen counter since our counter space is limited. Still, for us to be able to safely drink lake water, that’s a small inconvenience. We really do love the Big Berkey!