Friday, December 2, 2022


Ask Dave: What’s the best water purification system for my RV?


Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the RV Handbook and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses water purification systems.

Dear Dave,
“I will be traveling in a brand-new 24′ Class C Conquest RV with a 48-gallon freshwater tank. I would like a water purification system that has at least a garden hose input attachment for filling. Every time I go out, I want to rinse out then fill up the freshwater tank from home. I plan on being out for 6 months, come home, and camp locally during the summer months.

I’ll be camping in the brush and be dependent on river or lake water to refill the freshwater tank most of the time. So I’ll be using some type of electrical water pump with an output garden hose connection. I already know at least two rivers that have arsenic, lead, and mercury.

Can you recommend a system to use and what all I’ll need to implement it? This system will be installed permanently into the RV and will be used for all seasons so it will have to be a heated area and be drainable after use.” —Randall

Dear Randall,
The first thing I would recommend is to get a water testing kit such as the Intellitec or go bigger with the Safe Home version that will test several water quality issues.


As for filtering, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several inline filters that will filter out arsenic as well as reverse osmosis devices, distillation, ultraviolet treatment, or ion exchange. Boiling water does not remove arsenic and can actually heighten the concentration as it steams off water.

When using water pump to fill tank

I personally like to use an inline filter coming off the campground. However, since you are getting water from the river or lake, I assume you will be filling your freshwater tank and using the water pump. In that case, you should find a way to add a filter either to the filling hose or downstream of the pump you started using in your question.

Shurflo makes an inline model that is easier to install but it clogs up faster and has to be replaced, in my opinion. I like the residential type as you can get a specific filter for different water issues and the replacement filters are just a couple of dollars.

Even with filtration system, a purification system is advised

Even with the filtration system, I would suggest taking the extra steps to have some type of purification system before drinking or cooking with the water. Potable Aqua has tablets that make the water bacteriologically safe in 35 minutes. And there are several portable water filtration systems available depending on your budget and space available to install.

According to the CDC, a reverse osmosis system is highly effective in removing bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and chemical contaminants.

Distillation systems are also highly effective in removing the same components and seem to be more effective in removing arsenic.

Ultra-violet systems are also highly effective in removing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. However, they do not remove chemical contaminants.

Check with water system providers for options

I would suggest contacting your local Culligan or other water system provider to see what smaller or portable systems they have to offer. Since I only use the in-line filter, I have not had experience with which system works the best. Hopefully, our readers can shed some light in the comments on what they use, as there are several available.

Read more from Dave here

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.


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Rebecca Whitney
1 year ago

I have never thought about pumping water from river or lake into a fresh water tank.
The in line filters I know about I would not trust for that application.
The only filter I trust to filter water from those sources is AquaRain. It is a gravity filter. I’ll not elaborate, you can go to their website.
You have got me thinking about your situation. This deserves looking into. Thanks for Asking Dave!

1 year ago

I’m surprised no one suggested the Berkey purifier system. As mentioned above, one only needs purified water for drinking and food prep, IMO.

Rebecca Whitney
1 year ago
Reply to  TechiePhil

Berkley is a good system, however IMHO AquaRain beats the socks off Berkley.
Does Berkley have a filter system that can be connected to a hose?

John Barton
1 year ago

Walmart sells a pumped 50gpd ro unit for a little over $100.oo. Problem solved.

Rebecca Whitney
1 year ago
Reply to  John Barton

RO systems do not remove some bacteria and viruses. That is definitely something to keep in mind!

Sink Jaxon
1 year ago

Hey Randall, if you really are going to use a river or a stream for water supply in the boonies, don’t EVER explore what’s upstream…

1 year ago

We use the “fresh water” only for flushing and bathing. Because we travel with our furry companions, we carry only bottled water for cooking and drinking. Tummy upset in pets will make everyone unhappy.

1 year ago

Consider a Multipure system to attach to an internal faucet. Even on city water, I run all drinking water through the Multipure (either directly or into re-usable jugs) to keep us healthy. Good luck!

Thom R
1 year ago

Where is he dumping his tanks???? Next to the lake?

John Goodell
1 year ago

My recommendation is the obvious one: Don’t drink the water from rivers and lakes! I don’t care what high-tech or military water treatment you can get. You could easily carry drinking water, and maybe fill your FWT with filtered water for showering, toilet flushing, and cleaning.

1 year ago

The testing kit is fine if you are sitting in one place for months. Testing water at each stop means you may need different filters, or buy the most expensive one first.
We also use the refillable containers for drinking and cooking, or the 1 gallon bottles available in most stores. Then recycle the container.

Bob p
1 year ago

He can buy a lot of purified water at Walmart for the money he’ll spend on all that stuff. DW and I buy about 10 gallons of pure water in refillable jugs each week for drinking and cooking. The last time (2019-2020) we were in Fl for 5 months it was $.27 per gallon times X 23 weeks=$62.10. His plan is going to cost several thousand $$. It’s even less expensive buying by the large refillable bottle but we don’t have room for that. You don’t need pure water for toiletries, I wonder if he’s going to plan on dumping his tanks along side these lakes and rivers. Even when we are boondocking our holding tanks need dumping about as often as we need water refills.

Al K
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

Total came to $6.21 not $62.10 an easy mistake.

David Telenko
1 year ago
Reply to  Al K

Actually he is correct as he uses 10 gal. per week X 23 weeks = $62.10!

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