Thursday, October 21, 2021


Water, water, everywhere. Do you have enough to drink?


Photo: alexander_witt on

By Bob Difley

The top three reasons — maybe four — why you may have to abandon your boondocking campsite are all the result of diminishing resources: (1) Your freshwater tank is sucking air, (2) Your black water holding tank is backing up into your toilet, (3) Your gray water tank is backing up into your shower, and (4) Your house batteries are flat dead.

Numbers (1), (2) and (3) are somewhat related. Most boondockers soon realize that (2) happens long after (1) and (3). So let’s forget number (2), since the alternative of filling the black tank is doing what bears do, but boondockers don’t.

So … common sense dictates that if you use less fresh water (1) then you can delay (3). Here are some ways to be stingy with your fresh water:

  • Collect running water while waiting for it to get hot in a plastic bucket or tub to use for rinsing dishes, cooking pasta, flushing toilet, etc.
  • When showering do the Navy shower: reduce flow rate, wet down, turn off, soap up, turn on, rinse off.
  • Rinse dishes in plastic tub of water rather than under running faucet.
  • Turn off faucet when brushing teeth and washing hands and face, then turn on to rinse.
  • Carry extra water in a 6-gallon Jerry jug to replenish your tank. Or buy a water bladder at a camping or marine supply store.
  • Stow the empty Jerry jugs in your tow or toad. When you drive it out for supplies or go exploring you can refill them at any water source.
  • Use a Sun Shower filled with stream water and placed in the sun to heat. Hang from a tree and use for showers and washing hands.
  • Rig up a rainwater collecting system that will feed water into your holding tank.

You will notice that even though all the above will save you water, the water used will still drain into your gray water holding tank. And I would bet that your gray tank is smaller than your fresh water tank, which means that if you don’t prevent some of that water from going into the gray tank, then that is what will determine when you have to leave. Unless you …

Collect your dish washing and rinse water in plastic tubs and dump on thirsty plants well away from your campsite. HOWEVER: Do not do this in an RV resort or tightly spaced campground, only when boondocking or camping in primitive, well spaced out Forest Service or BLM campsites — and dump it well away from the campsite. Wipe plates clean of food bits before putting in wash water (food bits where you dump the water will attract rodents).

If you do accidentally fill your gray tank before you are ready to leave, run some of the excess off into a bucket and dump that on plants  — again, twenty yards or more away from the campsite, and change to a different plant each time you pour the water out.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.




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Bob (@bob-difley)
4 years ago

I assume you mean attaching a hose to your dump outlet and running your gray water thru it, rather than into a bucket. That will work. There are, however, a few (minor) drawbacks: (1) You would likely have to carry and store a separate hose just for that purpose and make sure you didn’t mix it up with your water filling hose (a bucket would have multiple uses), (2) The hose would have to be long enough to reach well away from your campsite, and (3) You would need to replace your manufacturer-supplied sewer cap with one that had a hose fitting. Otherwise, if you prefer the hose, that would work fine.

4 years ago

You’re the expert. Please explain to me the difference between putting your grey water in a bucket and pouring it on a plant, and just using a hose to water the plants?