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Subject Topic: Eau non potable.
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Message posted by naturalblonde on 04/10/2017 at 8:15pm
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What exactly is 'eau non potable'?     I know it means 'not drinking water', but why is it different and where does it come from?

We have spent the last 10 days or so in France using Aires and had this discussion with other motorhomers.
Do towns and villages really have two separate water sources? or is it a con to get us to pay 2e or more for 100 litres of water?

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Message posted by lizex on 04/10/2017 at 8:48pm
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No, towns and villages don't have two sources of water and it isn't a scam. Think of it a bit like not drinking water from the hot tap if you've got a loft tank. It means you can do stuff like brush your teeth with it but you risk having a tummy upset if you drink it. Or swallowing a spider, as me old mum used to say!

As we have precisely the same water standards in the UK you do sometimes see 'not drinking water' signs here too. I work in a big office in Bristol and we have them by the washbasins in the Ladies.

Message posted by clf86ha on 04/10/2017 at 8:57pm
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I always thought it had more to do with the piping it was processed through and its safety/taste.

Message posted by Opensauce on 04/10/2017 at 8:59pm
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Yes there is apparently a separate supply. I googled & found several French language websites which I read using google translate that explained it all. Search terms I used was 'why is eau non potable'

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Message posted by naturalblonde on 04/10/2017 at 9:18pm
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Thanks Opensauce - I've just read answers to this question on several French websites and even in French it sounds a bit scary-bacteria, heavy metal, nitrates etc.

On this trip we stopped at an Aire by a lake in the Limousin where the water had been drained because of contamination from waste matter from nearby uranium mines. Until recently people at campsites around the lake had been swimming in it!    We definitely didn't take any water from this Aire, potable or not!

Message posted by Ewen c on 04/10/2017 at 10:07pm
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One French website said the cold water taps in toilets is potable but the water in the toilet bowls is best avoided.
"Quelle drole d'idee". Vraiment.

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I used to be YES.

Now I'm HELL YES!

Message posted by Anglais on 05/10/2017 at 7:16am
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In our village there is single source which comes from a spring situated some 2 kilometres away, this is piped to a pumping station and then to a holding/header tank supplying the the network. Water pumped to the holding tank is treated with chlorine. Part of the untreated water is diverted to an outlet which was in former times a wash house and then into the river, this is indicated to be "non potable". Having said that many of the villagers regularly drink it and seem to suffer no ill effects. The water is tested regularly and the results published by the Mairie

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Message posted by Val A on 05/10/2017 at 8:29am
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Ourr village has a spring, too, and the Chateau d'Eau (pumping station) is on the hill behind our house. Water is treated with ultra violet light and the over run goes into a channel which feeds the allotments. This is non-potable and our cat prefers it to tap water.

Message posted by Geoff48 on 05/10/2017 at 8:44am
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I used to be a facilities manager, pre retirement, in the UK. There are various UK regs, Potable water storage tanks conform to WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) Potable Water Standards and Regulations for the safe storage of drinking water. Its the materials used in the manufacture or the tank that come into contact with the stored water that determines the classification.

Message posted by KeithChesterfield on 05/10/2017 at 8:51am
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As far as I've seen on Aires the non-potable water supply is used for those cleaning out and/or emptying cassettes.

The rubber hoses that are attached to the taps have been pushed and poked into and around high bacteria areas that would not do you and your stomach much good.

Spouts of cassettes are regularly lifted up to the tap and it doesn't bear thinking about what manner of mess they have been subjected to.

One pipe is used to come underground from the mains supply and then branched out to each tap.

I can't believe there are two pipes running from two separate tanks to the potable and non-potable taps but it's the use each tap is put to that determines which is which - and not the original quality of water piped to the site.

Water on all the sites we've used has been of drinking quality but I would imagine the insides of MH fresh water tanks, and the pipe work, on many vehicles is not as clean as it should be.

We only drink water direct from the taps after it's been boiled (cups of tea or coffee) and we use bottled water to drink fresh clean water.

Message posted by Geoff48 on 05/10/2017 at 9:12am
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Hope they have non return valves.

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Message posted by KeithChesterfield on 05/10/2017 at 9:24am
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If, as you laze on your chair on an Aire, you watch the Johnny Foreigner at the borne you may notice him (always a male) wash out his cassette with whichever pipe comes to hand - potable or non-potable.

One good reason to carry your own connections and pipe to use direct from the taps and certainly not rely on the communal pipes already connected to the tap.

This may also happen in the UK and is not just a foreign problem.


Message posted by Geoff48 on 05/10/2017 at 9:44am
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You may have noticed that not too long ago in the UK the Caravan and Motorhome club had to retrofit non return valves on their non potable water outlets standpipes cdp's etc. to reduce the chance of cross contamination. When abroad I do buy bottled water for drinking and use tap water for all other purposes. I also do this in the UK, not for any bacterial reasons but for the difference in taste. My wife is very fussy about the taste of tea - I tend to avoid hot drinks when in the caravan.

Message posted by Kelper on 05/10/2017 at 12:42pm
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We never buy bottled water, home or abroad ...

Tap water, and chill in glass bottles, straight from campsite taps (potable) ...

Caravan tank water is only used for rinsing, occasionally for cooking (if boiled), hand washing, cleaning etc.

Message posted by Opensauce on 05/10/2017 at 1:13pm
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So if somebody posted "I drank eau non potable & I was ok" would you drink it? Or would you take notice of the sign instead? It's a genuine question. What does UKCS think?

Message posted by Keyboard warrior on 05/10/2017 at 1:24pm
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I drink bottled water in Aquitaine because of the high calc content and tap water in Ariege because it is from the mountain.
As a side note water costs me 2.50€ per cubic metre in Aquitaine,in Ariege 10€ for the year regardless of consumption.


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