I'll cover as much as I can remember reading from this thread and hopefully clear up all the questions that were posed.
Someone mentioned a discrepancy between sterilization and sanitizing. The real issue here is sterilization vs. disinfection. Sterilization is the removal and/or destruction of all ORGANISMS whereas disinfection is the INACTIVATION of PATHOGENS. All we need to achieve for drinking water is disinfection.
For ease of technique and uniformity let's talk only about chlorine bleach disinfection right now--I'll cover some other disinfection practices later. Standard chlorine bleach (eg Chlorox) is Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl) with a free available chlorine of somewhere around 5.25%. This is slightly less than half the strength of what your municipal water purveyor is using to disinfect the drinking water if they are using NaOCl disinfection.
Disinfection does not occur immediately as your bleach is poured into your water! It is a function of the chlorine concentration multiplied by the time in which the disinfectant is in contact with the water (CT). If necessary for anyone, I can walk through this formula so that you can pinpoint your disinfection time to know exactly how little time you need with how many mg/l (or teaspoons or whatever) of bleach to disinfect to a desired log removal. However, this is really not necessary here and for this small a scale of disinfection (maybe something like a maximum of 50 gallons of water??), we're talking about very little bleach over very little time.
So let's discuss practical disinfection. As unscientifically as possible!
To disinfect your drinking containers do not take chances. An extra gallon of bleach is a helluva lot cheaper than infections from giardia, or cryptosporidium. But realistically, those are not likely as you probably are not filling your water jugs from open surface source waters.
For each gallon jug (who uses gallon jugs?! what a PITA, go at least 2.5gal) give it a good slosh of bleach straight out of the bottle. Y'know, a big ol' glug. That's probably somewhere in the ball park of 1/4 of a cup of bleach. Top off the container with drinking water from your faucet and allow to rest in the bottle for AT LEAST 24 hours. DO flush your faucet first, however. The website someone posted says at least 1 minute. That's a good rule of thumb but, realistically, if the water has not been stagnant in the lines for 6 hours or more (like when you are asleep) there is little risk of residual metals (the concern is typically lead and copper that can be leached out of your plumbing).
Now that you've returned to your bottles a day later, empty them! Rinse with tap water. Rinse again with tap water! Stick your nose in there, be disgusted that it likely still smells of bleach and rinse that beast again! A nice guideline for rinsing things in these situations is the triple rinse. rinse, rinse rinse, use. Cool?
Now that you have disinfected and ready to use drinking water containers, you are probably wondering how to keep your water safe on the playa?
Simple, fill up your container and use it! It's only a week! Or maybe you are a volunteer or artist and it's even a month out there? Still, there is really no worry. Disinfected water (yes, your tap-water) will store safely in clean, capped bottles for at least 6 months. Should you choose to boil your water first (why?) it will store up to at least one year. (Yay!)
Unsure of your tap-water? Water coming out of your faucet will have no less than 0.20 mg/l of free chlorine residual--that is, the chlorine left over in the water after disinfection has occurred. If you are uncertain of this or skeptical, there are a number of test kits available relatively cheaply that you can use. Additionally, calling your water purveyor and asking what the chlorine levels are in your neighborhood is easy to do. The receptionist won't know what the crap you are talking about or may be able to tell you that you have a detectable residual. Ask to speak with a water operator or request that one be sent out to sample and test chlorine on site or nearby your home. This is quick and easy to do and will be no cost to you. If they try to shrug you off, tell them you are having severe chlorine smells or that you have severe discoloration in your water--more than likely they will coming running--their #1 job is public safety.
Finally, if you still question your tap water, add a couple drops of bleach per gallon of water, shake well, and cap. And bring a Brita or similar charcoal, aesthetic water filter or gatorade powder to hide the flavor.
So that's bleach. There are a couple other practical disinfectants out there but none compare with the simplicity, low cost, and efficacy of bleach.
Iodine--very effective disinfectant but turns water brackish and creates flavor and odor problems. I recommend only for dire situations as iodine tablets are light weight and cheap but not really practical for something as planned out as BM. Iodine is great for back-packing trips into deep desolation.
Ultraviolet--UV is an effective disinfectant but leaves no measurable residual to ensure disinfection has occurred. Additionally, UV requires fairly clear water or long exposure times to be effective. The bulbs and apertures must remain pristine to work properly. Playa dust would negate their effectiveness.
Ozone--Not practical for small scale, personal use. Unstable and a strong oxidant.
Chlorine Dioxide--Same as ozone in regard to this purpose
Chloramines--A combination of chlorine and ammonia. NOT recommended for personal use as the the mixing ratios need to be precise and if done improperly or if accidents occur, death and serious injury occur. Chlorine and ammonia, when combined outside of a solution, create cyanide gas. DEADLY. do NOT use this method.
Filtration--There a tons of quality filters out there that can be used to create safe drinking water. Your favorite outdoor gear store will have one. Note that these are different from something like a Brita filter. Brita and its competitors use a charcoal filter (activated carbon, probably granular) that removes aesthetic complaints--tastes and odors. These charcoal filters do NOT remove pathogenic contaminants.
I hope this clears up some fuzzy areas and brings a little light to what seems to be a realm of darkness that is safe drinking water.
I suppose this requires a disclaimer for people who make stupid a habit?
Disclaimer--I do not recommend nor condone use of any of the practices or procedures discussed above. They have been shared only for the purpose of discussion and I make no claims or guarantees to their accuracy or efficacy.