Learning efficient water usage key to boondocking success

deschutes_nf_mckay - CopyIf you always camp in hook-up campgrounds and RV resorts, you may be missing some of the pleasures of camping; enjoyment of nature in the wild, wide open spaces, primitive areas, leaving the crowds behind, quiet, solitude, and no neighbors that are so close that you can hear them snore.

In dispersed Forest Service (FS) and BLM camping areas with undesignated campsites, you can get as close to or as far away from the action as you like. In Quartzite, for example, you will find clusters of campers around a single group fire pit as well as loners stretched out across the isolated reaches of the desert floor.

The easiest way to start camping without hook-ups – called dry camping – is by practicing in an organized campground that has water,  though not available as a hook up at your site, and a dump station (look for Forest Service and BLM campgrounds). Your continuous length of stay before dumping and water tank filling is dependent on your habits and your RV’s capacities. The larger the capacities and the more conservative your use of them, the longer you will last. When fresh water and a dump station are available, it simply means driving to the water fill and dump station and taking care of business, then returning to your campsite.

The wise use of water is a primary factor in determining your length of stay. With some clever deduction, you can conclude that the less water you use taking showers and washing dishes, the longer you will be able to extend your stay before having to dump your waste tank or fill your water tank. This does not mean that you should avoid showering for a week and use all disposable plates and utensils.

Therefore, to conserve water:
• Use campground showers and restroom facilities when available.
• Wash dishes in a dish tub and discard the dishwater into the campground gray water receptacle.
• Fill dishwashing tub from outside water supply.
• Drain gray water into a Tote Tank which can be rolled away and dumped into a dump station or toilet.
• Carry an extra hose(s). Maybe by joining them, you can reach the campground water supply to refill your tank.
• Carry a five-gallon Jerry jug or collapsible containers of water that you can dump into your water tank if you inadvertently run low.
• When using RV supplied water for washing or showering, turn the water on to wet down, then turn off. Soap up, then turn the water on to rinse off. You will save a lot of water – and pump running time – by not letting the water run.

The need to move temporarily from your campsite to dump and fill holds to “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” axiom. If you still have half a tank of fresh water but your holding tanks are full, that puts a definite crimp in how long you can extend your stay, and the further away you camp from facilities, the more practical it becomes to practice conservation. You should NEVER stretch out your stay, however, by dumping your holding tanks – not even your gray water tank – on the ground. Always use an approved dump station.

You’ll know that you have reached the epitome in the art of planning and conservation when your battery needs charging, your freshwater tank needs filling, and your holding tanks need to be emptied, all at precisely the same time. And if you are really good, it will be on the last day of your camping trip.

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