Water Management

Management strategies you can use to look after your water supplies

I want to be like water. I want to slip through fingers, but hold up a ship. Michelle Williams

Managing an upset stomach in the bush
An upset stomach is unpleasant at the best of times, particularly on a bushwalk. They’re relatively uncommon, however, being prepared with a handy trowel, plenty of toilet paper, antibacterial gel and baby wipes can make stomach upsets easier to manage in the field.

If possible, after a stomach upset, lie low for a day or two at a base camp. Adding gastrolyte tablets to water can be a good way of rehydrating, as bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting mean significant water losses.

Once back home, if symptoms persist, seek medical attention, where stool samples can be used to test for infection and treatment can be given.

Managing water containers
Having a well-organised water container system avoids mix-ups between treated and untreated water, particularly when the treatment process can take time to be effective, such as chemical.

There are a few options:

  • Colour coded or labelled bottles to easily identify treated from untreated water. This works well for treatments that take time.
  • A large source bladder with untreated water that is decanted into drinking bottles as it is treated. This works well for UV treatments or filtration treatments.

Stomaching distasteful water
Nasty tasting water can be unpleasant to drink but unavoidable in some scenarios. Sometimes water sources are heavy with tannins or have relatively high salt content, such as bore water. In these cases, the water is less palatable than water people are generally used to, and some people can find it hard to drink.

A few ways to solve this.
On the track:

    • Add light cordial powders or sugar
    • Set drinking goals by measuring the amount of water consumed. This can reduce the risk of dehydration
    • Filtering using a pump can remove sediment, tannins, heavy metals and bad taste.

At camp:

Backup treatment options
People generally develop a favourite way of treating water, and that’s what they carry. But it’s sensible to carry some backup in case things go wrong. Anything relying on a battery can run out. Tablets can get lost or waterlogged. Make sure there are some backups in the group, especially when walking in areas with lots of campers or downstream from houses, farms or industrial dwellings.