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Clean drinking water at the cottage

Planning a relaxing vacation at your cottage this summer? You’re probably thinking about what books you want to read, what clothes to pack, what friends and family you want to see and meals you want to enjoy. But are you also thinking about the water you want to use and drink?

You should. Nothing can take the Zen out of your getaway faster than having an unreliable or unsafe water supply. If your cottage relies on lake water, here’s a look at your options for pumping and filtration.

Getting water in the cottage

For a no-fuss supply of water to your cottage, Wade Woodward, owner of The Pump Shop in Haliburton, Ont., recommends a submersible lake water system. “The pump is right in the lake,” Woodward explains, “and it pushes the water to the cottage’s pressure tank.”

The pushing action, he says, is a more efficient way to move the water than the sucking method used in the older jet pump systems. “We maybe do one jet pump installation a year and that’s it,” says Woodward. “It’s really only good for people with really tight budgets and a small cottage that’s close to the water — maybe 20 or 25 feet.”

The submersible lake water system, on the other hand, is not only more efficient, but also low maintenance. “You don’t have to prime it, you don’t have to remove anything,” says Woodward. “In the winter, you can let the pipe freeze.” Come spring when you open your cottage, getting water is as simple as flicking on the pump’s switch. Depending on the size of your cottage, the system costs between $4,000 and $6,000 and lasts 20 to 30 years.

Clean and safe

Of course, getting water to your cottage is only half the battle — making sure that water is clean and safe to drink is also vital. Options vary, from hauling bottled water to drink to using reverse osmosis or chlorine and chemicals. But some of these methods can be cumbersome or time-consuming, and not everyone is comfortable dealing with potentially dangerous chemicals.

One of the most popular water treatment systems is the UV light, an environmentally safe way to disinfect water without adding chemicals. A basic UV light costs about $350, while a more powerful version costs about $700, and both types will sterilize the water and kill such parasites as cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia.

That said, UV devices are more effective when water is partially treated and flowed through sediment and carbon filters. Plus, UV treatment won’t improve the smell or taste of your water.

Aesthetically pleasing

But ozone will, explains Adam Doran, vice-president, marketing and sales for Aclarus Water Systems in Peterborough, Ont. The Aclarus system uses ozone — a naturally occurring substance — to instantly disinfect water. “We call it the axe murderer,” says Doran, “because it just splits bacteria in two.”

It also kills viruses and cysts, tackles iron and other metals, sulphur, chemicals and pesticides and produces water that is clear and free of bad taste and odour. The system is efficient, says Doran, producing safe water on demand at about 5 cents per 1,000 litres. Maintenance, he adds, is a matter of changing the system’s filters every three to eight months, based on your water usage.

The system costs from $5,000 to $7,000 — depending on the cottage — and takes about four hours to install on your pressure tank. Afterwards, says Doran, “you have safe, bottle-quality water from every tap.”

That leaves you to simply relax and enjoy your time at the cottage. As Woodward says, “It’s all about peace of mind.”