Thursday, November 30, 2023


Keep your RV drinking water safe

By Bob Difley
There are two kinds of RVers: those that drink raw water right out of the tap and those that don’t. If you are one that doesn’t, you don’t have to concern yourself with waterborne illnesses. Of course, depending on what you do drink – wine, beer, tea or coffee – you may be confronted with other issues.

For those of us that do drink water and spend a lot of time on the road and in questionable locations, the following measures have kept my wife and me free of typhoid, diarrhea, pathogenic microorganisms and intestinal parasites. As explorer Owen Lattimore noted while traversing the Silk Road in camel caravans, “Water alone, unboiled, is never drunk. There is a superstition that it causes blisters on the feet.”

• Fill your water tank only from water supplies that are confirmed potable sources, such as municipal, campground and tested well water sources.

• Every six months sanitize your tank by pouring in one-quarter cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water in a full tank. Let stand overnight. Drain, fill and rinse at least twice, or until chlorine odor is gone. Better yet, fill with water and bleach when leaving campground and let it slosh around in the tank as you head home.

• Keep the ends of your water hose out of the dirt and off the ground when filling your tank.

• Attach the ends together after voiding it of all remaining water and store in a plastic or cloth bag.

• When possible, use your own water hose to fill your tank. You don’t know how previous RVers have handled the supplied hose.

• Do not fill your water tank from the water supplied at a dump station for rinsing down, unless you are sure it is a safe water supply and you use your own hose.

• Wash your hands after using a dump station before using the water hose to fill your fresh water tank.

• Filter the water coming out of your kitchen faucet either with an under-sink inline filter (such as an Everpure), attach a water filter (e.g., Brita) to your kitchen faucet, or keep a Brita-type pitcher of water with built-in filter in your fridge. These filters will also remove grit and bad tastes like you get from some desert water supplies.

• If you use the pitcher, remember to use the filtered water for washing veggies, making coffee, tea, cold drinks or ice cubes, and if you’re slightly nervous about your current water tank supply, for brushing teeth as well.


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Don (@guest_251413)
2 months ago

Just did a search on Berkey Water Purification systems. All of their models are “Currently Out of Stock”. Interesting….

Diane McGovern
2 months ago
Reply to  Don

Hmmm. I just looked on Amazon and there are a couple of models that are marked as getting low so order soon, but the rest didn’t have that notice. So, I checked on the Berkey website and there are a couple of models that are marked as out of stock, but not the rest. So, I’m not sure where you were looking. Have a great day, Don. 😀 –Diane at

Bill (@guest_200285)
1 year ago

Boiling water does not prevent diarrhea. Heat stable antigens are not destroyed by boiling water. Boiling prevents live pathogenic bacteria from colonizing your gut causing serious disease.
the major concern here in the USA with potable water is chemicals that are contaminating the local water supply and that includes chlorine by products as a result of water chlorination. A good water filtration system is a really good idea.

DW/ND (@guest_200272)
1 year ago

For over 50 years we have had a well and the attendant odor of sulphur on occasion; so I have sanitized the water tank annually with no problem. Only once in a campground in SD did we have a serious water problem – however we had a case of back-up bottled water. Now at home we have a new rural municipal type water system which is obviously chlorinated so not much need for further chlorination. At 80 gals to fill and flush once (to clean out anti-freeze), let alone two or three times, seems a large waste of water! I also have a water test kit – simple to use and inexpensive.

By the way, I read or heard, Michelin is going to be releasing a new tire in 2023 or 24 made from plastic water bottles! Also there are park benches at Old Mill State Park in NW MN made from water bottles! Technology wins again! Drink up!

Edward Wilkinson (@guest_200610)
1 year ago
Reply to  DW/ND

You are doing a process known as shock treating for your tank. It is not redundant after the tank has been sitting between camping seasons, or has gone through many fillings and drainings. Again, it is for your tank cleanliness. Because you put mildly chlorinated water into your tank you are not shock treating. It takes a whopping amount of chlorine, as the author suggests, in order to complete a good cleaning. If you forego this, it is up to you of course. But all it takes is one time for you to have some potentially pretty horrific gut disease make you home sweet home.

Rich (@guest_200240)
1 year ago

34-yrs on the road for us. after the first few years i quit “sanitizing” the fresh water tank. we always filled from municipal, state or national park or campground taps. and we never had or used a water filter for the first 15-years. we used one after that because the new RV came with one. no illnesses and we’re still alive. it’s like the newbee camper that dons a virtual moonsuit to dump the tanks.

be safe, not obsessive.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rich
Paul (@guest_200255)
1 year ago
Reply to  Rich

Exactly our experience. Have not had a waterborne illness in 20 years.

Walker (@guest_91785)
3 years ago

When sanitizing my tank, I generally pour the recommended amount of bleach into the source-end of the fresh water hose that I normally use. Then, by attaching to my water source, it sanitizes the hose, and the inline filter, along with the water that ends up in the tank.

Irv (@guest_200252)
1 year ago
Reply to  Walker

If your inline filter has charcoal in it, it’s removing most of the chlorine before it gets to the tank.

Vanessa Simmons (@guest_88727)
3 years ago

I am shocked at the number of people still buying bottles of water! What a waste and drain on the environment. I use a filter on the hose and a filter pitcher. Drink water all across the country and have never been sick. Have a lifestraw for taking with me if on a hike and might need to drink from unknown water sources.

Linda (@guest_200229)
1 year ago

I agree! Have never had an issue with my water.

Leonard Rempel (@guest_200244)
1 year ago

100% what we do as well. Even if people “recycle” water bottles, probably half end up in the ocean anyway. If anyone cares about future generations this is an easy one to safely switch over from plastic.
Be an environmental friend, not it’s enemy! IMHO.

Judy Parker (@guest_88699)
3 years ago

After buying gallons of drinking water and getting fed up with schlepping it around, we began an in depth search and ended up with a Berkey water filter. The initial cost is a bit pricey as are replacement filters, but they can filter up to 6,000 gallons of water, so the per gallon cost is pennies over time. They have a maintenance kit for ~ $35 and in it is the dye you can use to check the water occasionally to indicate when filters need to be cleaned or replaced. And, if you’re not using your RV, it is free-standing, so may be used in your home until you travel again. We’ve been using it two years and it’s by far the best solution for us.

Mary Hazel (@guest_200274)
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Parker

I love my Berkeys- 15 years at my cabin and last few in RV. Easy and effective

Bill Fisher (@guest_202378)
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Parker

We also use a Berkey (Traveler) in our RV (and at home), along with sanitizing the complete freshwater system in our fiver at least once a year. We stopped buying bottles of water.

Phil & Peggy (@guest_88647)
3 years ago

All those concerns we put behind us when we installed an RO system with a triple pre-filter. We can take on water anywhere and know it’ll be fresh and clean of everything when it hits our FW tank. (The only downside was finding bath soap that the super clean water would rinse off.)

Jim (@guest_200261)
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil & Peggy

ROS water washes off all soap. That “slick” feeling on the skin after showering is not soap. The soft water has no (or few) minerals so you are feeling pure, “smooth” water.

Cindy (@guest_88646)
3 years ago

It seems to me that no matter how carefully you drain a hose there is always water left inside along with any dirt or contamination that might have gotten in, meaning bacteria is growing when you aren’t using it. When you put bleach in your tank, maybe do the same to the hose, connect ends and let it sit also. Or buy a new one. They aren’t that expensive and it’s better than all that bacteria in your drinks. Either that or boil any water you plan to drink. Personally, I preferred bottled water (gallon refills) because the taste is more consistent.

Paul (@guest_200256)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cindy

Just flush the hose thoroughly with fresh water from the potable water source before connecting to the RV. No need for bleach.

Chuck Dunn (@guest_88645)
3 years ago

We have the Berkey Water Purification which takes water purification to a extreme level. I know my water is safe and not water which has been kept in plastic for who knows how long. And it tastes good.

Jim (@guest_88630)
3 years ago

And never fill your fresh water tank at a campground that has the word “Sulfur” in the name…..

Montgomery D. Bonner (@guest_88615)
3 years ago

Don’t forget to wash hose bib down with some kind of soap for at least 30 seconds, you don’t know who touched it before, or how clean their hands were. We have seen pet owners allow their dog to pee on the post, and also people dump sewer and then use hose bib without washing hand. Stupid will kill you or make you very sick, make sure it’s clean first. We use tank after making sure water is safe. That flushes it out several times while camping. We shower every other day inside rig if public showers are available, this keeps water clean and fresh in the shower plumbing. We wash clothes also several times. I don’t use ice maker much, so we run treated water through it while camping and then use the ice for keeping food cool/cold once we empty fridge and take stuff home. When I winterize it this next time, will make sure antifreeze is in fridge line, then turn off supply to it, since we don’t use it enough.

Claud Addicott (@guest_19375)
5 years ago

On the road, we start out with several gallon containers of store bought water. When we stay at a campground that we hope has good water, we filter and boil some to refill the gallon jugs – generally in the mornings while making coffee. We boil in a large pan, and use some of the same water to make the coffee in a French press.

If we are away from a seemingly safe water supply for any length of time we prefer to buy more water. If not possible, we do carry a camping water filter that is supposed to make even polluted water safe – but we still boil it.

Overkill? Probably, but we’ve never had a water related health issue.

CB (@guest_17986)
5 years ago

We installed a UV water purification system from just for drinking water as well as a coconut shell carbon taste & odor 0.5 micron filter from and our water is always clean and safe – UV is what many water treatment and water purification systems use these days and a small unit can be installed for less than $150 with annual bulb replacement at about $35 per bulb – safe clean water from almost any source – no need to fill landfills with plastic these days. You can research these products online.

sylke m patton (@guest_45518)
4 years ago
Reply to  CB

We are newbees :)))
thank you for sharing your Info
I LOVE fresh water !
Happy adventures !!!

Sylke and James from TX / Germany

David Hartman (@guest_89047)
3 years ago
Reply to  CB

We purchased a UV stainless water bottle. Charges off USB cable. Takes 90 seconds. Just push a button. Charge last for weeks. Fits in cup holder. 16 ounces. $ 50

George (@guest_17893)
5 years ago

I use two 5 gallon water jugs (one at a time) and installed a separate water system just for drinking water. Total cost about $100 but peace of mind is priceless.

Mike & Louise Bacque (@guest_17887)
5 years ago

As a full-timer, you’re article served as an excellent reminder of the do’s and don’ts. Any water taken onboard our unit is filtered through a two stage system, even municipal sources. Just last year we were headed to Corpus Christi, TX when they announced a water advisory for the entire region due to the potential of an industrial back flow into municipal water lines. (Turned out negative but it took a full week of testing). So, one never knows what’s in the water even if supplied by a municipality.

PeteD (@guest_17848)
5 years ago

We always carry bottled water for drinking. We take several gallon jugs and a couple cases of bottled water and resupply when necessary. One bad sip of water can ruin a day or two.

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