Don’t Listen To Slate: Science Supports Stream Water Treatment

Giardia found in untreated water

Science Supports Stream Water Treatment

The ridiculous “raw water” craze is going to get people really sick. We all know about the importance of filtering water, whenever possible, prior to drinking it.

Apparently, some backpackers are taking very poor advice from people who should know better. Please, do not drink water straight from a source that may not be clean. Carrying a small filter with you is so easy. There’s no need to take the risk.

Best hiking filterThe risk might be low, but the alternative is maybe months of debilitating diarrhea. It’s your choice. While we like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, there’s no doubt that human beings are actually quite awful at assessing risk. So I can understand why Ethan Linck thought to contextualize the risk of drinking from backcountry streams with data. “Life is triage, a constant series of negotiations between risks of varying severity,” he wrote. “And how we talk about those risks matters.”

Yes, it does—which is exactly why his piece in Slate last week was so damaging. It was anything but a careful, scientific evaluation of the risks. Wes Siler over at Outside Magazine already pointed out a myriad of issues with the article, but I want to zero in on the actual data, because Linck claimed to be looking at the matter scientifically. Instead, he cherry-picked sources to argue against doing one of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself from some truly awful diseases when you’re backpacking: treating your water.

Source: Backpackers, Don’t Listen To Slate: Science Does Support Stream Water Treatment

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For more information about the types of diseases that can be passed from water, read our article 6 Worst Waterborne Diseases in the United States.

Have you been sick after drinking unfiltered water? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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