Birds, rainwater and your toothbrush
LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson
IF THERE is such a thing as rainwater tank envy, I bet many of us experienced it recently when our shire's water supply became polluted with salt. Overnight, our tap water became a far less pleasant drinking experience and having your own water supply became priceless.
If you are blessed with your own rainwater tank, I bet you've got at least one filter and a first flush diverter between the tank and your home, because you know what happens on your roof: incontinent birds and bats land there. Leaf litter and perhaps even the occasional nest can gather in the guttering. It's surprising how much muck builds up, as any householder tasked with cleaning out the gutters finds out.
All this gunk washes off with the spring rains, and without a barrier, straight into your water supply, ready to brew into a less than healthy concoction as the temperature rises leading towards summer. You want to prevent all that bacteria-and-parasite laden water polluting your water supply. If you've ever acquired a gastrointestinal parasite or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, you know just how challenging they are to evict and the intensity of symptoms they can produce.
So most people have a filter between the tank and their kitchen tap to keep what's lurking in their rainwater tank out of their drinking water. But there's another source of infection many householders overlook. If you develop some uncomfortable and inconvenient bowel symptoms your practitioner will ask if you filter your rainwater supply. The next question will be "and what about your bathroom tap?"
After all, every time you pick up your toothbrush, then rinse your mouth out after brushing, you could be using straight tank water - with all the muck from the guttering included.
We all get more active in the warmer spring weather, and any parasites and bacteria already present in your tank get more energetic too. Healthy intestines are capable of brushing off the occasional invading bug or parasite, but vast quantities from a polluted tank can overwhelm your body's defences. So perhaps, if you don't already filter your bathroom tap water, it could be time to. Or consider a "whole of house" filter where your water pipe enters the building.
You don't need anything more sophisticated than a ceramic filter, and they're remarkably cost effective, particularly when you consider how much it's going to set you back if a parasite takes up residence in your intestines.
* Olwen Anderson is a naturopath and counsellor and a columnist with the Tweed Daily News. She can be contacted at www.olwenanderson.com.au