After repeatedly coming close to, but not quite passing, our water tests, I finally became disillusioned with attempting to get our well to a zero bacteria level. We have managed to avoid e. coli, but there often seemed to be other coliforms that managed to infiltrate somehow.
Bleaching the well is always an option, but that didn't really sit well (get it? Well?) with me. So with that in mind, I returned to my camping roots and sought out options for filtering my own water as needed.
Having tried a number of different solutions as a backpacker, including MiOx systems, chlorine drops, and ceramic filters, I opted for the most cost efficient, lowest technology option. This was a ceramic filter. They last for thousands of gallons of water, are easy to care for (requiring occasional manual cleaning of the outer ceramic), and have a long track record of efficient, chemical-free filtering of potable water.
Not wanting to have to manually pump every drop of water though, I was very happy to find that gravity-fed solutions have been around for over a century now!
Online, the tubes of the internet seem to be saturated with the American "Big Berkey" canisters, which also heavily promote their "Black Berkey" filters.
Drilling a little deeper though, there seems to be some lingering questions as to whether or not the Big Berkey canisters and filters are actually made in the U.S. More importantly, though, quality control on the filters seems to be very questionable. Many, many reports of the filters coming apart without warning led me to worry about just how much they could be trusted. Of course, the Black Berkey filters don't appear to be ceramic - they seem to be straight up carbon with perhaps some other components. Having never seen one in person though, I can't really make a confirmed comment about them.
With these reports in mind, I opted instead to go for the original British Berkefeld system, which the Berkey system is a derivative of.
I couldn't get original an original Berkefeld cannister, but this didn't trouble me so much, as it is basically two stainless steel canisters which sit upon one another. Untreated water goes in the top, and filters though to the lower canister, from which a spigot dispenses it for drinking and toothbrushing. The canister isn't nearly as critical as the filter.
I did insist on original UK-made filters though, and wasn't disappointed. I purchased two, 9" ceramic Berkefeld filters. They seem to be very straightforward. Wipe off the ceramic dust with a wet rag, install in the upper chamber with a rubber washer above, and a plastic nut below, and then run one or two full tanks of water though before use.