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Drinking water on the Camino

LizKhan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Hello fellow Pilgrims,

I will be doing my first Camino in Sept 2019. So I'm busy planning and budgeting right now. I'm talking to people who've gone before and reading these forum posts. They're fantastic. I'm keen to find out about the water situation . Is the local tap water drinkable ? Or does every one use those water purifying tablets ? I live in New Zealand and we drink the municipal water straight from the tap with no problems. I'm keen to find out what everyone does.

Cheers :)

Liz
 
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AlexanderAZ

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2017 (Sept/Oct): CF: SJPdP-->Fisterra-->Muxia (solo)
2019 (late Sept): CF: SJPdP-->Leon (honeymoon!)
I’m a water hog (consume lots). I carried 2L and had no issues refilling from spickets throughout my entire Camino Frances (no filtering or tablets needed) albeit most were from private sources.
 

LizKhan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
I’m a water hog (consume lots). I carried 2L and had no issues refilling from spickets throughout my entire Camino Frances (no filtering or tablets needed) albeit most were from private sources.
Thanks for that Alexander. I'm a water hog, too. While we're on the topic of hogging water, what's the bathroom situation on the Camino ? Are there public toilets along the route ? Or do you just go in the bushes ?
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks for that Alexander. I'm a water hog, too. While we're on the topic of hogging water, what's the bathroom situation on the Camino ? Are there public toilets along the route ? Or do you just go in the bushes ?

No public toilets but lots and lots of cafes on the route. You’ll have to purchase something though before you use their facilities (understandably).
 
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AlexanderAZ

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2017 (Sept/Oct): CF: SJPdP-->Fisterra-->Muxia (solo)
2019 (late Sept): CF: SJPdP-->Leon (honeymoon!)
No public toilets but lots and lots of cafes on the route. You’ll have to purchase something though before you use their facilities (understandably).

Thanks for that Alexander. I'm a water hog, too. While we're on the topic of hogging water, what's the bathroom situation on the Camino ? Are there public toilets along the route ? Or do you just go in the bushes ?

As a male, I had no issues with “watering the bushes”. (Can’t speak for the ease of females doing same). I drank wayyyy too much water to wait to use facilities between towns/villages.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis SJPP April 2016,
August 2017, May 2018
Camino Portuguese
2019, May Porto, Sept Lisbo
Thanks for that Alexander. I'm a water hog, too. While we're on the topic of hogging water, what's the bathroom situation on the Camino ? Are there public toilets along the route ? Or do you just go in the bushes ?
Wow you're planning ahead. Toilet situation is we use the bars, and I always bought something from the owners. I felt better. The Spanish govt May give a tax break as they don't seem to build public toilets. I always used toilets where available and tried not to go in the woods.
Buen camino....
Miki Goldie
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Wow you're planning ahead. Toilet situation is we use the bars, and I always bought something from the owners. I felt better. The Spanish govt May give a tax break as they don't seem to build public toilets. I always used toilets where available and tried not to go in the woods.
Buen camino....
Miki Goldie
I actually found several public toilets at the beginning of the Camino del Norte in Basque Country.
 

LizKhan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Thanks everyone. At the Albergues, are there facilities for a cup of tea first thing in the morning ? I might not be a nice person for the rest of the day if I don't have my tea.
 
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MaryLynn

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Thanks everyone. At the Albergues, are there facilities for a cup of tea first thing in the morning ? I might not be a nice person for the rest of the day if I don't have my tea.

You might have access to an electric kettle, depending on the albergue and if there are kitchen facilities. Sometimes there is a serve-yourself breakfast set out in the morning with coffee and tea available. The albergues are all different.
 

twh

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances May/June, 2018
Porto-Muxia-Finisterre Oct (2019)
cup of tea - yes the Albergues have kitchens with cups, pots/pans, cutlery, glasses etc... The kitchen areas vary in completeness but at a minimum they have a pot, a faucet for water and a stove/hob to boil your water. Maybe bring a camping collapsible cup to keep with you along with your stash of tea and you should be set to start each day with a hot cup of tea and a big smile. Most Albergues offer a light breakfast of coffee/tea, toast and jam/jelly/marmalade for 3.5 Euro. I'm not a big tea consumer so I did not pay attention to the tea selection offered, if any but I did notice tea just about everywhere there was also coffee. On my next camino, I will not buy the Albergue breakfast. Instead I will bring my own coffee/tea and prepare it at the Albergue for free using my collapsible cup and then an hour or so into my morning walk, I'll stop for a proper breakfast at a bar/restaurant. When you call for a reservation or while checking in to an Albergue, ask about kitchen facilities for boiling water.
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
I always take teabags and a vacuum flask, although that's mainly because I started walking the Chemin de Compostelle in France where there are often no facilities between (fairly scattered) towns. Now that I'm walking in Spain, where there's a coffee stall every 1/2 hour or so, I may dispense with the flask next time - but I'll definitely take the tea for first thing in the morning!
 

Rover

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis, Fall 2016
Hello fellow Pilgrims,

I will be doing my first Camino in Sept 2019. So I'm busy planning and budgeting right now. I'm talking to people who've gone before and reading these forum posts. They're fantastic. I'm keen to find out about the water situation . Is the local tap water drinkable ? Or does every one use those water purifying tablets ? I live in New Zealand and we drink the municipal water straight from the tap with no problems. I'm keen to find out what everyone does.

Cheers :)

Liz

I think this is a question we all ask ourselves, "is the water safe?" The short answer is "yes" it's safe. I completed the CF two years ago and had no problems. I filled my bladder at alburges, bars and public fountains. If the water is not portable, there were always signs clearly warning against drinking the water. No pills, filters, worries - enjoy your transforming experience.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I should add that I have drunk the local water (not to mention wine) all over Spain for many years with no ill-effects. Their tapwater is of a very high standard.
Same experience.
Many times I even saw local Senoras filling up huge canisters with village fuente water although I'm sure their household tap water was also good. Those fuentes are fed from sometimes centuries old wells of fresh water and locals surely know what's good :)
 

Jeff Titelius

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (León to Santiago) 2018
Hello fellow Pilgrims,

I will be doing my first Camino in Sept 2019. So I'm busy planning and budgeting right now. I'm talking to people who've gone before and reading these forum posts. They're fantastic. I'm keen to find out about the water situation . Is the local tap water drinkable ? Or does every one use those water purifying tablets ? I live in New Zealand and we drink the municipal water straight from the tap with no problems. I'm keen to find out what everyone does.

Cheers :)

Liz

I drank tap water all the time from hotels, cafes and from the potable water fountains along the Camino. You won't have any problems.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
There are a couple of stretches on the Francès where you might need to get bottled rather than tap, but frankly this is not a subject that you should worry about.

Water purifying tablets are not just suspect a priori, but they are very unnecessary.
 
Past OR future Camino
1340
Thanks everyone. At the Albergues, are there facilities for a cup of tea first thing in the morning ? I might not be a nice person for the rest of the day if I don't have my tea.
By the way most places that have coffee will have tea, sometimes in lush and exotic plenitude (e.g. mango, green and infusions). When I needed a break for the WC or a rest I usually stopped at a bar and asked for a té negro and something to eat, like a croissant or tortilla. Hot water refills can range from free to half a euro.

All the best,
Paul
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Spain is a first-world country. All municipal water systems are certified safe and are regularly tested. If the water comes from a tap at a home, bar, cafe, restaurant, hotel, albergue, etc., it can be presumed safe to drink.

Water that comes from outside 'fuentes' may or may not be safe to drink. Look for signs suggesting 'agua potable' or 'agua no-potable.' An international sign with a tap icon and a red circle and diagonal line through the tap icon is one good indicator that the water is NOT safe to drink.

One other sign that the water coming from that path-side spring might not be safe is if there is a pasture directly beyond or above, with cows or other animals in it. Many of the older fuentes found outside towns and villages are old, and the wells or springs are not deep enough to filter enteric waste. Consider what might have gotten into the water...o_O

Drink your fill before leaving your overnight accommodation. Carry one to two liters of water. Personally, i prefer multiple .5 liter water bottles arrayed around me to distribute weight effectively. You buy the bottles already filled with water. Reuse them until they are disgusting, then recycle them properly and replace with new...also already filled with drinking water.

Every pilgrim develops their own water carrying plan. Some folks prefer bladders. I am too lazy to clean them and the empty bladder weighs a lot more than my empty water bottles. Some folks like commercial water bottles. But they present the same challenges as bladders and can be heavier still.

Hope this helps.
 
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Pierre Julian

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Ingles, VdP, San Salvador, Aragonese & Northern. Sections of Portuguese & Mozarabic.
Thanks everyone. At the Albergues, are there facilities for a cup of tea first thing in the morning ? I might not be a nice person for the rest of the day if I don't have my tea.
As a tea drinker: tea bags in Spain are not as good as English (or Australian), so bring your own, and if you take milk, maybe some powdered milk or save up a few sachets of liquid milk from places like McDonalds! If your albergue has a kitchen, then no problem about boiling water (even a micro wave will do, but not as good). Lots of times I've been in albergues with no kitchen, and no bar open in the town, so had to walk a while until the next town - which is a bit of a trial. Spain is a coffee country and a decent cup of tea in a bar is difficult. A few weeks ago I asked for a cup of tea with milk and they brought me a cup of hot water with a teabag separate, and an extra cup of hot milk. The waiter and was surprised that really all I wanted was a few tea spoons of milk in my tea.
 

Pierre Julian

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Ingles, VdP, San Salvador, Aragonese & Northern. Sections of Portuguese & Mozarabic.
Hello fellow Pilgrims,

Is the local tap water drinkable ? Or does every one use those water purifying tablets ? I
Liz

Spanish water is great, whether from the tap in buildings, or the local outdoor fountains. Just be careful in Galicia, I drank water from an outdoor tap high up in the mountains - it was very hot and I was incredibly thirsty. It had no sign on it, and I thought that being so high, and no sign not to drink it would be okay. I really paid for it that night - I was so ill - but a big lesson learned about being careful. Galicia also seems to have less public water options than the rest of Spain.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Thanks everyone. At the Albergues, are there facilities for a cup of tea first thing in the morning ? I might not be a nice person for the rest of the day if I don't have my tea.

These albergues cater for a path that has 250,000 - 350 000 people per year.
The books you will buy especially MMDD will tell you what facilities they have .
And may i suggest you learn to enjoy coffee has everyone stops for coffee , especially around 6.30am when leaving the villages / towns.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
There are a couple of stretches on the Francès where you might need to get bottled rather than tap, but frankly this is not a subject that you should worry about.

Water purifying tablets are not just suspect a priori, but they are very unnecessary.
@JabbaPapa
What do you mean by "Water purifying tablets are . . . suspect a priori?"
I have water purification tablets, given me by the Red Cross as part of an emergency kit, which I took with me when I walked the VdlP last year, as lack of safe water can be a hazard on that route. Since they are very compact, I plan on continuing to carry them, although I do not expect to need them. I do not consider them to be in any way suspect.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
@JabbaPapa
What do you mean by "Water purifying tablets are . . . suspect a priori?"
I have water purification tablets, given me by the Red Cross as part of an emergency kit, which I took with me when I walked the VdlP last year, as lack of safe water can be a hazard on that route. Since they are very compact, I plan on continuing to carry them, although I do not expect to need them. I do not consider them to be in any way suspect.

OP was asking about the quality of water on the Francès.

Water purifying tablets are a bandage, not a solution -- as it is obvious that they do not render chemically pure that which is not, as they are not chemically pure themselves.

YES they can be vitally important in some locations with some severe water sanity problems, and particularly so for those individuals who are poorly resistant to the potential infections, bacterial or parasitical.

The Camino Francès isn't one of them.
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
As a tea drinker: tea bags in Spain are not as good as English (or Australian), so bring your own, and if you take milk, maybe some powdered milk or save up a few sachets of liquid milk from places like McDonalds! If your albergue has a kitchen, then no problem about boiling water (even a micro wave will do, but not as good). Lots of times I've been in albergues with no kitchen, and no bar open in the town, so had to walk a while until the next town - which is a bit of a trial. Spain is a coffee country and a decent cup of tea in a bar is difficult. A few weeks ago I asked for a cup of tea with milk and they brought me a cup of hot water with a teabag separate, and an extra cup of hot milk. The waiter and was surprised that really all I wanted was a few tea spoons of milk in my tea.
On a day trip from Granada to the Sierra Nevada a friend asked for "té hace con leche" and that's exactly what she got: hot milk with a tea bag in it and it did not look good!
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Sometimes the water from the fuentes is far superior to tap water. I found the water in Burgos to be dire and dumped it (and washed the bottle) at the first fuente.
For what it's worth the water in the fuente across the road from the Santa Clara convent (SdC) last week was far nicer than the water in the convent.
 
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Thornley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Also, if you’re feeling lucky...
View attachment 47497
This in Vega de Valcarce.
I’m not sure that this sign is absolutely clear, but I will not be filling my bottle here, thank you.
Paul

In this area Paul all you needed was a hat to collect enough h2o from the sky ...
We got drenched just before Vega until we reached La Faba .
 

MsBeckyO

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting 2nd November 2018
Hi, so I didn't buy water purifying tablets because I read here the water is fine, however, I'm following people on Instagram at the moment in stealth mode and apparently some are getting sick from water. Since I have a pretty weak stomach, just wondering if the drops or tablets are sold at the pilgrim office in SJPdP please?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Hi, so I didn't buy water purifying tablets because I read here the water is fine, however, I'm following people on Instagram at the moment in stealth mode and apparently some are getting sick from water. Since I have a pretty weak stomach, just wondering if the drops or tablets are sold at the pilgrim office in SJPdP please?
Yes, there are people getting sick, but I don't think that it has been determined that water is the cause. It could be a virus. Lots of people that I walked with last year got a similar virus. If you are worried, just don't use the public fountains. Fill up with tap water in the albergues.
 
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twh

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances May/June, 2018
Porto-Muxia-Finisterre Oct (2019)
I was told the water on the Camino was safe but when there are problems it tends to be in the wells on the Meseta. I filled my camel back from the fuentes, bars and albergues during the whole trip EXCEPT the 6 or 7 days on the Meseta where I filled the camel back with bottled water each day...just to be safe..ounce of prevention.
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Also if for some reason people don't trust the water anyway, please consider buying a filter bottle like the Brita Fill & Go Active or similar rather than buying and throwing away tens, if not hundreds of plastic bottles while in Spain. I use it because I think it improves the taste of tap water, and carry a water bag with tap or fuente water to top it up on hot days. Two of us have been on the Camino for a month and a half and only bought three bottles of water. Every little helps!
 

alhartman

2005-2017 Delightful 346 days in Spain and France.
Past OR future Camino
2017
@MsBeckyO Lots of causes of sickness--but water is probably the least likely. The stomach problem I have had or seen on the Frances were much more likely from food. And some from virus going around and spread in the Albergues. Iodine tables will not stop either of those vectors.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
One other sign that the water coming from that path-side spring might not be safe is if there is a pasture directly beyond or above, with cows or other animals in it. Many of the older fuentes found outside towns and villages are old, and the wells or springs are not deep enough to filter enteric waste. Consider what might have gotten into the water...o_O
Reminds me of a boat ride in NZ's Waitomo Cave. Someone asked the boatman if the water was good to drink. It was then described much like it was the best thing on Earth. The cave was located in farm country so I remained dubious. After leaving the cave, walking back along the cave's stream to where I was staying, there was, not much farther than a stones throw from the inlet to the cave, a dead cow in the stream.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2012
Hi, so I didn't buy water purifying tablets because I read here the water is fine, however, I'm following people on Instagram at the moment in stealth mode and apparently some are getting sick from water. Since I have a pretty weak stomach, just wondering if the drops or tablets are sold at the pilgrim office in SJPdP please?

@MsBeckyO, if you want to be certain of irritating your apparently 'challenged' digestive system give it an excessive dose of Chlorine or Iodine (or water 'purifying' tablets) they'll wipe out lots of your beneficial intestinal flora and leave it even more challenged o_O. I would place as much reliance on Instagram as a source of information as I would place on the safety of drinking from a fuente clearly marked agua no potable.

There appears to be a current, but not officially confirmed, outbreak of Noro-virus on parts of the Meseta at present. The usual route of transmission being aerosolised vomit and faeces and/or direct contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by individuals suffering from the virus. Touch a contaminated door-knob, wipe a tear from your eye, good-bye. If it is Noro-virus it will reach Santiago at about walking pace.

Most people who get sick on the camino routes get sick because of poor personal hygiene. Their own or someone elses.

Drink the tap-water and wash your hands! Or follow WC Fields advice and never drink water because of what fish do in it.......
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Never been sick on the camino and never drank the tapwater!
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
@MsBeckyO, if you want to be certain of irritating your apparently 'challenged' digestive system give it an excessive dose of Chlorine or Iodine (or water 'purifying' tablets) they'll wipe out lots of your beneficial intestinal flora and leave it even more challenged o_O. I would place as much reliance on Instagram as a source of information as I would place on the safety of drinking from a fuente clearly marked agua no potable.

There appears to be a current, but not officially confirmed, outbreak of Noro-virus on parts of the Meseta at present. The usual route of transmission being aerosolised vomit and faeces and/or direct contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by individuals suffering from the virus. Touch a contaminated door-knob, wipe a tear from your eye, good-bye. If it is Noro-virus it will reach Santiago at about walking pace.

Most people who get sick on the camino routes get sick because of poor personal hygiene. Their own or someone elses.

Drink the tap-water and wash your hands! Or follow WC Fields advice and never drink water because of what fish do in it.......
Have you ever heard this - W C Fields Drinks a Glass of Water?
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Reminds me of a boat ride in NZ's Waitomo Cave. Someone asked the boatman if the water was good to drink. It was then described much like it was the best thing on Earth. The cave was located in farm country so I remained dubious. After leaving the cave, walking back along the cave's stream to where I was staying, there was, not much farther than a stones throw from the inlet to the cave, a dead cow in the stream.
Have you ever watched The Man Who Would be King? Based on a Rudyard Kipling short story and acted by Sean Connery and Michael Cain as Danny and Peachy in possibly their best roles in their respective careers.

They play two retired soldiers in Victorian India who set out to make their fortunes by working their way up a valley, conquering villages and recruiting the villagers to attack the next village up the valley in search of their fortunes..

To do this the pair incite a tribe to attack the rival village who, among other sins, are accused of urinating in the river upstream from their village. Once defeated they enlist this new tribe into their army as well, inciting them to attack the next village up the river, whose inhabitants have also been pissing upstream . . .
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Lots of fuzz about nothing in this thread... The water in Spain is safe and good, if not, it is marked No potable.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Have you ever watched The Man Who Would be King? Based on a Rudyard Kipling short story and acted by Sean Connery and Michael Cain as Danny and Peachy in possibly their best roles in their respective careers.

They play two retired soldiers in Victorian India who set out to make their fortunes by working their way up a valley, conquering villages and recruiting the villagers to attack the next village up the valley in search of their fortunes..

To do this the pair incite a tribe to attack the rival village who, among other sins, are accused of urinating in the river upstream from their village. Once defeated they enlist this new tribe into their army as well, inciting them to attack the next village up the river, whose inhabitants have also been pissing upstream . . .
That's one of my all time favorite movies.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
I have heard about the illness on the Camino right now too. And a lot of people seem to believe that it is coming from bad water from a fountain or fountains near Carrion de los Condes. I don't know if this is accurate, or if it is from a virus or what. But even if it is from a fountain or a group of fountains, the tap water will still be fine.

Fountains that are normally fine can become compromised if there have been heavy rains and localized flooding that cause farm runoff to get into the fountain water source or if there is a crack in a pipe somewhere that has allowed contamination into the water. It happens.
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Safe, potable water is everywhere on the Camino, until you run out! Never pass up the chance to top off your water!
But DO make sure the fuente is working before jettisoning the dregs you have left. Coming out of Burgos one year I'd filled up with tap water in the refugio and it was very heavily chlorinated. Dumped it at the first fuente I came to only to find the tap was dry :(
Interestingly cities like London are installing public water fountains to counteract the amount of single use water bottles that abound at great cost to the environment and pocket.
Remember folks: Evian is just Naive spelt backwards!
 

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