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Drinking Water: Real Problems, Real Solutions  
User currently offlineAzstagecoach From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 152 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 6 months 23 hours ago) and read 2929 times:

First off, this is my very first post on a.net, and I am thrilled. I love this place!

We know the drinking water is a serious problem, and that "bring your own water," while practical, is not the long-term solution. Now I know there are plenty of threads about drinking water on planes, consisting mostly of advice not to drink the water. This thread is more specific, hence the placement in tech/ops. The goal is to get actual, bonafide potable water for drinking on planes, and for me, that would mean I could actually drink the coffee again too!

So three questions:

(1) will the new EPA regs solve the problem?
(2) if not, what WILL solve the problem?
(3) have there been any actual, reported incidents of serious illness due to drinking the water on airplanes? (not the same as "a friend of a friend...)

Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

azstagecoach

35 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineHangarRat From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 633 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (8 years 6 months 22 hours ago) and read 2909 times:

Actually, I never really knew there was formal advice against drinking the water on airplanes. I always took it as a common sense thing, as I'd no sooner drink water from the lav than I would from a Greyhound station bathroom.

As for things like coffee, the water has been boiled so it shouldn't be a concern. Are there concerns about other contaminants? Please elaborate.



Spell check is a false dog
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6388 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (8 years 6 months 20 hours ago) and read 2880 times:

Quoting HangarRat (Reply 1):
As for things like coffee, the water has been boiled so it shouldn't be a concern.

Boiling only kills pathogens, and IIRC, the minimum boil time to guarantee all pathogens and spores are really dead is 30 minutes. Boiling will not eliminate contaminates, such as lead or arsenic (arsenic is a common problem in groundwater in the Southwestern USA...).

I'd hope the airlines start taking care of this themselves, as it would be expensive if the EPA had to get involved...it wouldn't be hard for each airline to hire an environmental engineer and make sure that the "potable" water system was maintained to a minimum standard (by creating, and having the ground crew, adhere to standards, such as is already done with the fuel system. When was the last time an airliner crashed due to fuel contamination  Wink ).



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineDALMD88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2554 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (8 years 6 months 18 hours ago) and read 2826 times:

Potable water systems are periodiclly disinfected. I've either done it or seen it done on most of the letter checks I've worked on. I think it was about two years ago the FAA got real concered about the quality of the water and we started constantlly doing water samples. The result I saw was our proceedure fro disinfecting the tanks was improved. After about a year of the new proceedure the rate of testing has dropped. That tells me the quaility is pretty good. Some of the guys I work with would never touch the coffee on the planes, but I think it is safe. I think the water tastes better than some of the bottled stuff coming off the Europe originating flights. That Vittel crap from France is the worst.

User currently offlineTornado82 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 6 months 18 hours ago) and read 2823 times:

Quoting Azstagecoach (Thread starter):
The goal is to get actual, bonafide potable water for drinking on planes, and for me, that would mean I could actually drink the coffee again too!

I'm not speaking for all planes, but at least on the ERJ, the coffee pots are filled by using a gallon-or-so reservoir filled with bottled water. This reservoir is in one of the stowage areas of the galley. When you walk into the plane, you are practically staring right at where the reservoir is. Therefore, you can at least drink the coffee on an ERJ.


User currently offlineEilennaei From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 6 months 17 hours ago) and read 2805 times:

Although not directly applicable in an a/c, this might give you an idea.

You can feed water from any odd natural source in and get safe water after filtration. The microfilter only lets small (water) molecules through.

http://www.scan-water.com/
http://www.adlux.fi/public/eng/pdf/Test%20results%20eng..pdf


User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 6 months 17 hours ago) and read 2781 times:

The drinking water issue was first raised by The Wall Street Journal in November, 2002.

http://www.mindfully.org/Water/Airline-Water-Safety1nov02.htm

This is what motivated the EPA to take action.

Note that almost all airlines have an official policy of using only bottled water for drinking. However, flight attendants have admitted to using tap water when the bottled water runs out.


User currently offlineKaddyuk From Wallis and Futuna, joined Nov 2001, 4126 posts, RR: 25
Reply 7, posted (8 years 6 months 16 hours ago) and read 2766 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 2):
When was the last time an airliner crashed due to fuel contamination

Doesnt mean that fuel ISNT contaminated... The A346 weekly has a function to operate the fuel drain ports to get rid of water that has settled at the bottom...

Granted that fuel contamination is small, but it still exists...

I Have done the steralization of the water system. And even though i know i've done the job correctly, i cant guarentee that the handling company has steralized the water they put on the aircraft properly. That is why i choose to drink bottled water on the aircraft. Better still...

Feed me Vodka & Apple Juice anytime! :P



Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" never had Gonorrhea
User currently offlineCFIjames From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 87 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 6 months 15 hours ago) and read 2756 times:

I used to work on the ramp in Salt Lake City. We had a portable potable (say that 10 times fast) water tank. I can remember seeing a slight slimy layer of algae forming in there after sitting out in the desert sun for days on end. I know it got cleaned now and then, but it was not exactly Evian. (evian=naive) The potable water hoses at another gate were nothing more than glorified garden hoses taking tap right from wherever the airport gets its water. What i dont know is when/if the potable water tank on the airplane EVER gets cleaned, and I'm sure it would need to be cleaned often, given the fact that it never gets completely empty (even on winter RONs, it was emptied, but that moist little biosphere must really harbor bacterias and other nasties)
Now you have to think about this for a second, and draw your own conclusions. Usually there is one ramper assigned to do the water and LAV on the planes after the bags have been brought to the bag claim. Rules say that you always do the water first, then lavs after, but Im sure this doesnt always happen. I'm sure that not everyone wears the latex gloves while doing the lavs, they might just use the regular "bag throwing" gloves that they already have on. This is just BAD. I insist on bottled water, or no water at all. (although i like Kaddyuk's suggestion. Just bring me a rum and coke.)



There are 3 simple rules for making a perfect landing every time. Its a shame that no one knows what they are.
User currently offlineKaddyuk From Wallis and Futuna, joined Nov 2001, 4126 posts, RR: 25
Reply 9, posted (8 years 6 months 14 hours ago) and read 2732 times:

Quoting CFIjames (Reply 8):
What i dont know is when/if the potable water tank on the airplane EVER gets cleaned,

Its part of an A check... I'm not sure which ones... But i know its not every check...

They do get cleaned and filtered but i refuse to drink water on an aircraft that has not been boiled previously...



Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" never had Gonorrhea
User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined exactly 11 years ago today! , 3150 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (8 years 6 months 13 hours ago) and read 2708 times:

Another issue that you guys aren't bringing up has to do with the water source itself. Have you ever really watched how poorly those hoses are maintained and handled?


DMI
User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 6 months 11 hours ago) and read 2690 times:

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 10):
Another issue that you guys aren't bringing up

Right. The other issue is the FDA. The OP specifically asked about EPA so I didn't bring up the FDA.

The FDA has rules but very few inspections, not enough resources to inspect the airport water sources and food catering often enough.

The FDA is responsible for the ice brought on the plane. If you're afraid to drink the coffee, you should also be afraid to put ice in your soda.

The basic rules are don't drink the water, and don't order the fish.


User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3527 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (8 years 6 months ago) and read 2605 times:

I have clearly seen FA's filling up jugs of water in the Y galley and then serving it to pax in the Y cabin. Of course, the J cabin gets the DASANI bottled stuff. I don't drink water on planes so I don't really worry.


Support the beer and soda can industry, recycle old airplanes!
User currently offlineLongHauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4988 posts, RR: 42
Reply 13, posted (8 years 6 months ago) and read 2600 times:

I recently flew a trip YYZ-SJO-YYZ. On the way north, the Flight Attendants were reporting that the passengers were complaining about the water ... both from the lavs, and in the coffee. (same source). They said it smelled like diesel fuel.

Upon investigation, we found that they serviced the aircraft from a water tank that previously held jet fuel!!!

Until the problem was rectified it became policy NOT to uplift drinking water from anywhere in Costa Rica. It took about 6 weeks.

[Edited 2006-03-25 16:53:59]


Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4009 posts, RR: 33
Reply 14, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2575 times:

Our airline has a team of hygiene inspectors. They turn up every year and take samples from the water supply, the water trucks, and the aircraft. Our trucks have a cleaning schedule where the tank is emptied every week, cleaned and refilled. All the water trucks are filled from a special tap, that is outside my office! We actually drain the aircraft water tanks every night, and fill them up fresh in the morning. I have always drunk aircraft tea and coffee, do it every day, and so do our crews. Never noticed any ill effects.
Reading these and other posts, perhaps airlines in the Americas should take water more seriously.


User currently offlineHangarRat From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 633 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2560 times:

I guess when you get down to it, you're taking luck of the draw where ever you go. An eighth-grade girl discovered you're better off drinking from the toilet in most fast food joints:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=1641825&page=1



Spell check is a false dog
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17040 posts, RR: 66
Reply 16, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2554 times:

Quoting HangarRat (Reply 15):
I guess when you get down to it, you're taking luck of the draw where ever you go. An eighth-grade girl discovered you're better off drinking from the toilet in most fast food joints:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=1641825&page=1

Yet another reason not to drink ice with a little soda as the Americans do. Big grin The drink is already cold. Why do you need ice?



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 17, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2471 times:

Quoting Azstagecoach (Thread starter):
Now I know there are plenty of threads about drinking water on planes, consisting mostly of advice not to drink the water

I would advice the same too.  Smile

Quoting DALMD88 (Reply 3):
Some of the guys I work with would never touch the coffee on the planes, but I think it is safe

Neither would I.

Out here All the Operators offer packaged drinking water.The potable water is used only at the basins.

regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17040 posts, RR: 66
Reply 18, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 2447 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 17):

Quoting DALMD88 (Reply 3):
Some of the guys I work with would never touch the coffee on the planes, but I think it is safe

Neither would I.

The coffee has been boiled right? Should be pretty safe from pathogens. I don't drink it because it tastes bad, but that's anothe matter  Wink



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineAzstagecoach From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 152 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 2399 times:

Thank you for the responses.

(1) Has anyone actually become sick from the water?

(2) TristarSteve (Reply 14) sounds like his airline has a strict program to ensure water safety. Has anyone heard of other airlines doing this?


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17040 posts, RR: 66
Reply 20, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 2386 times:

Quoting Azstagecoach (Reply 19):
(1) Has anyone actually become sick from the water?

No idea. But just looking at those meals makes me sick. Big grin



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineAvionicMech From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 315 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 2375 times:

Quoting Azstagecoach (Reply 19):
(1) Has anyone actually become sick from the water?

We have had passengers become sick from drinking the water onboard, but that was nothing to do with the aircraft but the water that was put onboard in Brazil I think it was. It was reported by the crew before the plane even arrived back in the UK and before the aircraft flew again the entire syetm was cleaned and dis-infected and new water filters installed through-out the aircraft.


User currently offlineZizo6 From Kuwait, joined Jan 2006, 7 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2299 times:

why do we need potable water ? i have been told that it is not for drinking !!!

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17040 posts, RR: 66
Reply 23, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2291 times:

Quoting Zizo6 (Reply 22):
why do we need potable water ? i have been told that it is not for drinking !!!

The term "potable" means "suitable for drinking". And when I fly, I like to drink water. It's the hands down best way to prevent dehydration.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2252 times:

How could you know if passengers became sick from the water? Food poisoning illnesses usually take 24 hours or more to begin symptoms. You would have to find all the sick people to confirm that they all had the water in common (and none of them had the fish Big grin ), plus laboratory testing (stool samples, yuck!) to confirm the pathogen and trace it to the source.

The most widely documented cases of food poisoning on planes resulted from infectious people with open sores or other gross contamination working for the food catering companies. It's hard to find any documented and proven reports of people getting sick from water.

On one episode of the "Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase" podcast, a flight attendant confesses to brewing a pot of coffee without noticing that there was a dead mouse in the pot. She discovered the dead mouse only after serving the coffee to passengers.


25 HAWK21M : Isn't Packaged Bottled 125ml water distributed out there. regds MEL
26 Starlionblue : It depends. In the US it's mostly bottled poured into glasses. On long haul it's sometimes little bottles.
27 Kaddyuk : I'd rather go thirsty than drink aircraft water, its high in chlorine to kill the germs and often comes out cloudy... It tastes like soap and probabl
28 Post contains images KELPkid : In the US, the 1/2 liter (16.9 Fl. Oz) bottle is much more common...larger sizes are available, all the way up to the 1.5 liter monsters that I used
29 727EMflyer : Surprise, water is nasty stuff! Appearances can be deceptive though because sometimes the algae and slime that make you squirm are the same things th
30 Azstagecoach : This is exactly the problem though. Even when EPA tests the water they are testing for fecal coliform levels, which merely suggest the presence of ot
31 Starlionblue : I can accept that. But on the other hand dehydration is no picknick either. I could drink soda, but the amount of sugar in soda (or juice) is way abo
32 Post contains links HAWK21M : http://www.epa.gov/safewater/airlinewater/index2.html regds MEL
33 Tod : As long as your body is used to it. Very similar to drinking the water in a foreign country. You can't always drink what the locals can. Tod
34 Eilennaei : Algae require light to grow so they can't be alive long in a closed tank. I'd think bacteria and yeasts are to blame.
35 Zizo6 : We use Pallin test to check on chlorine level. although the refill point is the same but we get different readings from time to time and from unit to
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