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potable water from dump stations?


charlyhors

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We've been fulltiming for 10 months, and booning for the last 4, loving it! Here's a question I would like some thoughtful (as opposed to emotional) responses to. We've several times been able to find dump stations for free or cheap, but not potable water. Some dumps will have a sign saying the water is not potable, and some will have no signs. They typically have the cut off hose that people use to wash out their tanks. I would NEVER use that for drinking water.

 

But the flip side of this is that these water hoses do most often have a check valve to keep the hose water from backing up into the pipes, And we of course carry fresh water hoses and a inline filter that basically keeps out sediment and minerals (not microbials).

 

I have often thought that the signs stating the water is not potable are referring to the fact that it would be dangerous to fill your fresh water from the dump hoses. But I highly doubt that there is a separate source of "non potable" water being used at these places. My guess would be the only 2 sources of water for dump stations would be treated city water, or well water - which is typically microbiotically healthy, though perhaps having high mineral content.

 

What are your thoughts, and more importantly, reasoning, about filling fresh water tanks from a dump station after removing the dirty hose, running some fresh water out (assuming they have a check valve in place) and using your own fresh water hoses and mineral filter?

 

Other info - we drink and cook with store treated water in 3 gallon jugs, but do use the tank water for showers, teeth brushing, hand washing, dishes, etc.

 

OK, lets hear your reactions. I'm sitting down. ;-)

 

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I'm always leary of drinking any water unless I'm really certain of the source.

Locally, partially treated water is used on golf courses, green areas, etc.

I suppose a municipality could use such water at a dump station as well.

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Your reasoning is sound. In locations where "potable" and "non-potable" water sources are found I would be reasonably certain that the source water is identical... marked non-potable due to the proximity to the dump station and probability of contamination. Having faith that the check valve is doing it's job in a location that probably sees a bit of abuse and little maintanence, it's probably reasonable to assume that with proper care (sanitizing the water connections and anywhere your hands might touch) and your own hoses, that water could be used to fill your fresh water tank.

 

THAT being said... I would think long and hard about taking my nice clean potable water hoses and such into what I would consider to be a contaminated environment. Wherever my hoses touched ground would be running the risk of introducting contaminants unless care was taken to sanitize every inch before stowing it back into my rig. If there is any off scent around the water source then I would also be concerned about air born contaminants that could potentially take hold inside the nice warm, moist innards of my hoses.

 

To temper my opinion.. I full time and do drink and cook from my fresh water tank. As such, I am very particular about my water and very conciencious about not introducing any contaminants into my FW tank. Once established it's a major PITA to completely expulse bacterial or microbial's from your water systems.

 

With that understanding... I would never risk it. There are too many other "clean" sources of water out on the road that I can't think of any situation where it would be necessary to take the risk. You do have to get creative sometimes (rest stops, gas stations, motel/hotels, etc), but worst comes to worst.. any ol CG will let you fill for a very nominal fee.

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I don't know if you've seen a water bandit or might have one, but they sure can come in handy. I put a 3' long cut-off hose on one so it's fairly simple to slip the water bandit over a sink faucet or other non threaded water outlet and fill a 5 gallon water jug. You certainly can't fill your FW tank that way without a major hassle but it can get you enough to tide you over in a pinch.

 

Just an afterthought. ;)

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Knowing how hard it is to finally get the last bit of water out of my fresh tank, I would never risk contaminating it. You could find yourself needing to replace the tank and all the plumbing in your RV. Not worth it.

 

Linda Sand

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I have often thought that the signs stating the water is not potable are referring to the fact that it would be dangerous to fill your fresh water from the dump hoses. But I highly doubt that there is a separate source of "non potable" water being used at these places. My guess would be the only 2 sources of water for dump stations would be treated city water, or well water - which is typically microbiotically healthy, though perhaps having high mineral content.

While the chances are that in most cases you are correct, but is it worth the risk to you of discovering that you just filled your tank for one that isn't that way? And even if you are right, can you be sure that the one where you are now is not the exception?

 

I look at it this way. I never drive down a road with any expectation of being in an accident, but even so I still always wear my seat belt. I do that because it just isn't worth the risk involved.

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I wouldn't take the risk myself. Generally we boondock for 10 or 12 days and then head in to an RV park for a night or 2. Then we dump, take on water have long showers, do laundry, do some shopping, go out for a meal, and then head back out to the wilds again. Works for us.

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I would not use water from a dump station to fill up my fresh water tank unless it specifically says it's potable water. At those dump stations that have potable water, the potable water fill is separated from the water used for dumping by some distance. I have no problem filling the fresh water tank with this water.

 

We don't drink from the tank, though...not because we're afraid to use the water, but because I'm VERY particular about the taste of water (if it HAS a taste, I don't want to drink it!). We use bottled water for drinking, coffee, and cooking (and for the dogs). We refill containers from the reverse osmosis kiosks that charge $.25 per gallon or $1.00 for 5 gallons.

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We mever drink the tap water we get in Mexico. It is for showers only and we buy water in 20 liter refillable containers. Cross the border with 81 gallons and use that until it gets empty. We fully clean the system with high concentrations of Clorox (at recommended levels) several times before we use the water again for drinking.

 

Reed and Elaine

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