Saturday, March 25, 2023


Boondocking etiquette regarding emptying gray tank

Here’s a question from a reader of about boondocking. 

Hi Bob,
I boondocked (in a BLM dispersed camping area) recently near a group of people in tents and they dumped their dishwashing water on the ground several feet from their campsite as well as allowing the water from their sun shower to fall on the ground. Yet, since I have a motorhome, I am required to contain all my wastewater in a holding tank and carry it to a dump station. Can I instead just run a dump hose from my gray tank out away from my campsite and empty it onto the ground without running the risk of getting a ticket? —Clifford

Hi Clifford,
The correct (and preferred) answer to that question is NO. Do not dump your black or gray water tanks on the ground. In reality, boondockers hedge their bets on that question. You are not likely to get a ticket if you dig a hole as far away from your campsite as your hose will reach to dump your gray (NEVER your black) tank into. Let the water seep into the ground, then refill the hole. Put your hose away. Even if a ranger saw you doing this he would likely not issue a ticket. You WOULD likely get a ticket if you dumped your tank all over the ground, didn’t dig your hole deep enough or didn’t regulate the flow enough so that the water overflowed the hole, or you left your hose out, signaling to all passersby what you were doing, which would likely lead to repercussions.

The best practices plan is to not dump your tank, but if your gray water is coming up into your bathtub the day before you intend to leave you may have to dump some (but not all) of your gray tank to avoid a sloshing, disagreeable mess in your bathroom. You can reduce the amount of water going into your gray tank by practicing water conservation, like washing and rinsing your dishes in a tub (with biodegradable soap), then carry the tub a good distance from your campsite and pour it on a thirsty plant.

Read more about boondocking at my BoondockBob’s Blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) .



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1 year ago

It’s only illegal if you agree with the laws otherwise it’s not illegal.
What’s the point of seperating black and grey if it’s not to dump the grey more easily?

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

Just about everyone dumps grey water from time to time. We can easily do a couple of weeks on the black tank (sometimes more depending on where we are) but not so with the grey (and we practice mega-water conservation!). I’ve got one of those “as seen on TV” collapsible hoses that stretches quite a ways. I hook that to my dump hookup and if there’s a nearby ‘rabbit hole’, there goes the grey. It takes quite a while to drip out, and I usually do it at night so as not to attract any unwanted attention. If no hole is available, I dig one. This has worked for years. But when it comes to the black tank we pick up our stuff and head for an RV park, a gas station or truck stop that offers dump facilities, or wherever we find a dump available. Creativity is the key here.

Edward Price
5 years ago

I live near San Diego CA, (where water is expensive), so all of my home’s GREY water goes into about 2000 gallons of storage tanks and eventually waters my shrubs and fruit trees. The problem with a campground encouraging GREY dumping into shrubbery is that, sooner or later, some moron will dump their BLACK, either in place of their GREY, or just dump both. Just one time, and that’s plenty of reason to change management’s mind.

5 years ago

The concerns are sanitation (NEVER the black tank!) and flooding/erosion from 50 gallons at once (so never dump grey “wide open” except into proper dumpsite pipe).

It is mildly acceptable to drip water at a rate that IMMEDIATELY soaks in, provided your grey water is not chunky with grease or stinky food debris. Never leave significant food debris at tge surface. Digging a hole as above is better, but most CG owners object to digging anywhere near sites.

My solution is to carry a couple hundred feet of cheapie hose dedicated to my macerator. So far, no one has objected to my avoiding moving trailer by pumping to APPROPRIATE places (dumpsite or dug hole WELL away from campsites).

5 years ago

when we would park at my sister’s she always had us run the gray water over to her shrubs to water them.

Harry Salit
5 years ago

You say don’t dump but I know of one 1000 Trail cg that has designated areas for dumping the gray water. Also a cg owner in New Mexico encouraged us to empty our gray tanks under her hedges!

5 years ago

Lots of thirsty plants out there.

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