What do you want to H2(kn)O(w)?
One of our lovely guests on ITIKI this year was a dear ‘old’ friend of mine who just happens to be one of Australia’s leading experts on water management, Dr Annette Davison (BSc (hons), M Env Law, PhD, GAICD etc etc). Annette is founder and director of Risk Edge whose mission is to help its clients optimise their businesses through identifying risks and harnessing the opportunities that creates. Annette is a very smart lady, not only has she has chosen me as a friend, as you can see she has lots of letters after her name…
Annette and her husband Steve (a highly regarded steel scheduler – yes it’s a thing!) joined us for a few days in Gocek Bay in southern Turkey and over a glass of water or two (well wine is mostly water isn’t it???) we got to talking about matters of water and waste management on a yacht and decided to take a look at ITIKI’s systems from a water safety and risk management perspective. This is the sort of thing that can happen when a couple of scientists have access to alcohol and too much time on their hands. I have to say though, it has been a very interesting exercise. We had not considered our water management system quite so holistically until now. While it has evolved to its current configuration, rather than being designed that way up front, it seems my own science and public health background, along with Keith’s diligent research and a healthy dose of common sense, have helped us reach a pretty good outcome
Background and description
Regular readers will be familiar with ITIKI, our Fountaine Pajot, Helia 44 evo (that’s a 44’ cruising catamaran) currently cruising the Mediterranean. When we are not on the move we spend our time at anchor in some gorgeous location or other; it’s a rare occasion when we go into a marina or town quay these days, only if we don’t have a choice due to lack of safe or convenient anchorage in impending bad weather.
On ITIKI have has two freshwater storage tanks with a total capacity of 700L, plus a 45L hot water tank. To help preserve the freshwater that we make, we have a seawater tap in the kitchen for rinsing dishes (before washing) and as well as saltwater flushing heads. The fresh water in the tanks is used for:
While we could fill our tanks with shore water, and certainly had to for our maiden voyage, we are now exclusively filling them with desalinated water, thanks to our Rainman® 240V desalinator. With water temperatures in the mid-20s, this baby will generate 120L of freshwater per hour. The only ‘“downside’” being that with our current electrical set up, we need to use the generator to run it (although 12V models are available).
We also have a dockwater or tank bypass system, which was fitted at the end of season 2018 in Tunisia. If we are in a marina, town quay or boatyard, we can connect the available town water supply to ITIKI’s plumbing system and turn off the freshwater pump to bypass the tank water. That means filtered town water now comes out of our taps and can be used directly for the above- mentioned purposes, (except maybe for drinking). We can save our precious desalinated water when we are docked. The town water is passed first through a (string) particle filter and then through a 5 micron carbon block filter, before going into our plumbing system. Under the kitchen sink there is another inline filter housing where we have the option to add another carbon block filter, generally a 1 micron (absolute). This is capable of removing faecal coliforms and parasitic cysts as well as certain chemical contaminants, (theoretically) making the town water fit for drinking.
Below: A schematic of ITIKI’s water management system. When you break it down
like this it is really surprising how many moving parts there are
Water in our ‘“local’” environment
At home in Australia we take safe drinking water for granted. We are quite happy to drink unfiltered Sydney Tap (otherwise known as Warragamba White!) and have no issues with the taste and purity.
Similarly, for much of our cruising ground in the Med, town water is covered by EU standards. Of course, it must be of potable quality (being not only safe, but aesthetically pleasing).
Whether or not there is 100% compliance with these standards at every country, in every marina, every town quay on every tiny island in the Med/Adriatic/Aegean throughout the entire year one would never know for sure. We have also visited some non-EU countries this season (Tunisia, Montenegro, Albania and Turkey) and know nothing of their water safety standards. We note in many places the locals wont drink the tap water and (sadly), we see a lot of (plastic) bottled water being consumed as a primary source of drinking water. Whether this is due to marketing tactics from the bottled water companies or valid public health concerns we are not sure. We note that in some places standards for bottled water may actually be lower than those for public town supply, if they exist at all.
Our one night in a marina in Marmaris, Turkey, the town water completely failed the sniff test, even after passing through our multiple filters. It had a very strong chemical smell. We certainly didn’t drink it, but still used it for washing ITIKI and our clothes. We have a 20L container with a tap that we can fill from the desal tank and use for drinking water when we are connected to dockwater. This is actually our “emergency” water supply, and saves us constantly switching back and forth between the two.
The other problem we have found with the town water in the Med, despite being potable, is the high level of limescale or calcium carbonate. While we were on the dock in La Rochelle commissioning the boat, we had to use the town water for all purposes. By the time we left La Rochelle, there was a heavy coating of limescale inside the kettle. Heating tends to bring it out of solution quite effectively and it deposits itself on metal surfaces. While limescale is not a significant health problem in drinking water, it is a problem for stainless steel pipes and appliances. My main concern is for the hot water tank and in particular the heating element. The build-up of limescale on the heating element of the hot water tank could ultimately lead to its failure and the need for it to be removed and replaced - an expensive exercise. ITIKI’s hot water tank only fills from the water storage tanks, which are now full of desal water, so even when we are using shore-water, we don’t have to worry about limescale build up here.
This paper describes the physical set up of our water system, provides some background on how we manage our water and the logic behind some of these decisions. But, how do we ensure our overall water safety and quality standards are maintained? By developing a water safety plan (WSP) of course!
In a nutshell, developing a WSP involves applying a systematic and holistic approach to evaluating the potential hazards in the water system, then identifying mitigations (or controls) and contingencies to effectively manage the risks.
So, with the WHO guidelines in mind we developed a WSP for ITIKI. The results were very enlightening and will lead to some well-informed but minor modifications to our approach to water management. So settle in with a nice, refreshing, cold glass of desalinated water and take a look for yourself.
Click on the file icon below to download the WSP:
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.