By Russ and Tiña De Maris
If you’re still a fan of formaldehyde for your RV holding tanks, you may be in for disappointment. In California, the sale and use of the pungent potion as a holding tank chemical will be completely unlawful in 2022. That comes from the passage of Senate Bill 317, recently signed into law.
Who is responsible for the support of this law? Some might immediately think environmentalists, but in what may seem an oddity to some, the major support group for the new law is an RV park owners alliance, CampCalNow. With some RVers who genuinely love formaldehyde products in their black water tanks, you might wonder, why would campground owners support a ban? The reasoning was set out in a news release from the organization.
“This is a major victory not only for California campgrounds, but for the environment and for our groundwater supplies,” said Dyana Kelley, president of CampCalNow. “Our campground members were being held responsible for costly testing and penalties when groundwater was shown to have dangerous levels of chemicals from these products.”
While California features in the news in the “war on formaldehyde” other states will soon come into focus. The California group predicts that where California leads, others will follows, expecting that other RV park owner groups will likewise pursue legislation in their states. But why the fuss?
CampCalNow points out the danger of formaldehyde as a holding tank chemical is the adverse affect it has on septic systems. They point to information going back a couple of decades when the federal Environmental Protection Agency published these statements:
“When chemicals, such as formaldehyde, are added to septic systems they can cause bacteria in the system to die. When this happens, the septic system cannot treat waste effectively. Solids that are allowed to pass from the septic tank, due to inadequate or incomplete treatment, may clog the leach field. Furthermore, clogged systems may send inadequately treated sewage to the surface, threatening the health of people or pets who come into contact with it. Or it may percolate to groundwater, where the chemicals and untreated wastewater could contaminate nearby drinking water wells, rivers and streams.”
The California group isn’t suggesting that RVers give up the use of any holding tank treatments. They point to the use of tank treatments that use enzymes and beneficial bacteria which are reported to break up and consume the odor-causing matter in holding tanks.