“Can You Use Gray Water for Other Stuff?” This question comes up over and over again in the RV community. Some are looking to conserve water due to a desire to be environmentally friendly. Sometimes they may want to boondock or dry camp for long periods of time and not have to empty or fill their tanks. Some may want to park their rig on property and move it as little as possible. Whatever drives your desire to reuse gray water, you’ve made the right decision to research it instead of just going ahead and doing it.
Water Recycling Laws
The EPA supports using gray water but they unfortunately do not set a lot of guidelines as far as doing so. A handful of states have laws that allow gray water reuse and then there are the other states that really have no laws at all to either prohibit or support it. The decision usually comes down to the county and the campground you’re in, so you will need to check from area to area and ensure you’re not violating any local laws or rules.
Gray Water Reuse
If you find yourself in an area that allows the reuse of gray water, you can now ask the question, “what can I use it for?” Since gray water has no feces in it, it is generally safe in small amounts for multiple uses. There are some precautions you want to take to ensure that your gray water remains safe for other uses.
If you are washing anything such as cloth diapers in your RV, you need to then treat your gray water as sewage and dispose of it properly. Uses like these have then introduced human waste into it making it unsafe to reuse.
Stock your RV with nothing but natural soaps. Harsh chemical based soaps can have a negative effect on plants and animals, so you want to ensure there’s none of them in the water. Natural soaps have no chemicals in them and break down naturally so they won’t cause any environmental issues.
Keep food particles in mind. If there are food particles in the grey water and you spread it around your campsite, this can cause some pretty nasty odors. Not only will you have to smell these odors, but they will attract hungry animals that will start poking around your site searching for dinner. One way to keep these particles out of the gray tank is to collect your wash water from the dishes, and dump it in the toilet instead of down the drain. This way you won’t have rotting food in your tanks or around your site.
When you do use gray water outside, think about where and how you spread it. Don’t just dump it in a pool or puddle somewhere. Water standing on the ground is likely to be consumed by animals. Even with natural soaps, if the animal drinks any decent amount of this water it can make them ill. You also want to ensure you are far from any body of water so that it doesn’t run into it and cause a hazardous environment for fish or animals that use it as a drinking source.
There are several great uses for gray water that will allow you to recycle it without compromising yourself or the environment. As long as you take the above precautions, and check your campsite and area for laws prohibiting it, you can reuse the gray water and know you’re doing your part when it comes to water conservation!
Putting out the Campfire
As you know, you never want to leave a campfire going unattended. When it’s time to extinguish your flames, why use fresh water that could be used for drinking, when you can use gray water? Just put some in a bucket and put out the fire. This is one case that is likely to cause a puddle so you want to ensure that you have enough dirt you can put over it, so that it will cover any standing water on the ground.
If you have a garden, gray water can be great to water your plants with. Pour it into a watering can and quench your plants’ thirst! If you have fruits or vegetables in your garden, ensure you do not pour any of the water on the edible part of the plant. Even with the natural soaps, the gray water is likely to have bacteria in it that can not only cause damage to the food, but can hang out and make you sick when you eat it.
Keep Down the Dust
If you have a campsite that is mostly dirt and it’s dry out, you will probably find yourself in a dust cloud. You can use your grey water to wet the area and knock that dust back down. Get a garden hose with a sprayer or a watering can so you can ensure that you’re spreading the grew water around, and wet the ground in your area. Just as you did with the fire, ensure if there are any puddles left by mistake that you cover them up with some dirt so they aren’t left for an animal to drink.
Reroute it to the Toilet
With this kit from USI-RV you can set up your system to pull from the gray tank when the toilet is flushed. Keep in mind, you do need to get another water pump along with this kit to make it work. If you don’t want to deal with modifying the RV, there is the option of simply keeping some gray water for later use in a bucket. As we stated above, you may want to conserve the water from washing dishes and put it in the toilet so that the food particles aren’t sitting in the gray tank. This would also give you the flushing water you need so you’re not using the fresh water.
Conserving water is helpful not only to your budget, but to the environment too! Ensuring that you follow all the rules and regulations will help to make sure you don’t end up with a hefty ticket or fine. What are some ways you use your gray water when your in an area where it’s allowed? Let us know in the comments!