Grey water tanks in vans/motorhomes

Submitted: Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 11:33
ThreadID: 98211 Views:9870 Replies:4 FollowUps:12
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Hi all,

Has anyone noticed a requirement to contain your grey water in your van or motorhome? Some van parks have actually welcomed grey water being directed to trees or grass on some sites. Others have provided a sullage pit to direct your hose into. I guess this issue is more about where overflow from parks is directed to town ovals and maybe some free camp areas. Now I know of several motor home owners that do have grey water tanks, usually 200 or so litres. I personally have never come across a "standard" (yeah whatever that means..lol) van that has one and when the allowable payload is taken into account 200lts of water plus the tank and fittings is a fair weight. I have a standard 6'x4' box trailer, no brakes, that has a legal payload of 550 kg. My 22'x8' van has a legal payload of 450 kg.
So two questions. Is it possible to have a vans legal payload increased, what is involved? If you were to catch and store your grey water where do you dispose of it? Do you just open the dump valve a little and let it go on the road as you go?
Maybe this problem is another result of the sheer number of people hitting the road for holidays and or just a lifestyle change.

Cheers
Pop
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Reply By: Member-Heather MG NSW - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 12:55

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 12:55
Hi Pop,
I will be interested to read the replies you get from others on EO with regards to this.

If the water was being drawn from your clean water supply then draining into a grey water holding tank, would it add to the payload or would you just be transferring it from one tank to another? So would it add to the weight any?
Just something I have been wondering which is pertinent to your question I think.

We have been thinking about being able to collect our grey water in places such as National Parks campgrounds and places which only allow 'self contained vehicles' and have been considering using collapsible 20 litre water containers as an alternative. Do you think this could be a cheaper solution? They are only around $12 each from places like Bunnings apparently.

regards,

Heather
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 12:59

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 12:59
Hi Heather

I paid $5 for my collapsible container from Big W a few years ago and i have since seen them in camping stores for the same price. They can also be purchased from Hong Kong on eBay for $5 plus a couple of dollars freight.

We have not been anywhere so far that we were required to remove our water completely from the site. We use a bucket and cart it somewhere suitable where people don't camp - like into the bush.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:25

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:25
Hi Heather, MH, as new vanners we have settled on carrying a 20L plastic container,
with lid, & place it under the van grey water outlet. It fits in the front boot for cartage.
We prefer this to using one of those black waste hoses that most use. The concept
of a rinsed, lidded container far outweighed the rolled up hose that,by design, must
still contain water & remnants of whatever that water contained. Sure, I have to
carry it to a point of disposal, but, hey, at my age, the eccy does me good, & sometimes a dry plant or two gets the benefit.cheers....oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:29

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:29
Hi Oldbaz

Likewise we rarely use our grey water hose even in a caravan park. Unless we are staying for a few day, it is easier to empty the bucket. At a caravan park the sullage pit is close by if there is one.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Member-Heather MG NSW - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:02

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:02
Hi MH and Baz,

We are happy using our sullage hose as I shower in the van, even when staying in van parks (I use quite a lot of water as it is on mains pressure and electric hot water in parks.)
I would be emptying the bucket pretty frequently if we used that method.

When free camping we often stay completely by ourselves so run the water away from our van with the hose...and there is no problem.
It's just that we were questioned in July as to the type of water which was running from our hose when staying in a National Park campground in northern NSW, and the ranger was not very happy to hear that it was shower and washing up water... It was the first time in about 10 years that this has happened to us.
Not sure how they check people staying in tents and the like who do the same thing but don't have sullage hoses. We have heard that they are tightening up the rules as to this in NSW National Parks but it may only be rumour.

We don't have any problems with carrying the hose or odours usually...

regards,

Heather
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 13:06

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 13:06
Hi Pop

Using a grey water tank will not alter your payload as the water is used from a fresh water tank and moved to the grey water tanks. While some motorhomes have large tanks, caravanners usually fit a small grey water tank. The water must be disposed of in an acceptable place and i do not consider the road suitable - more because of what people may think rather than any real harm.

Grey water stored can built up a bacterial level, so where possible it is better disposed of on site where permitted such as when at a caravan park, or emptied as frequently as practicable.

I think you are right about it becoming an issue because of the pressure of numbers.

We have not as yet needed to remove wates water from a camp site, but don;t let it run on the ground where people camp. I have yet to see a National Park which has suffered from camper's water, and looking at National Parks, most do not cater for caravans and are more for tents and camper trailers.

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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:40

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:40
I agree with Motherhen who makes a very valid point about national Parks not being fussed about grey water disposal. Even on their camping areas which supposedly cater to caravan they, in the main, do not go to any lengths to, so called, "safely dispose" of greay water. Mind you, grey water in or near streams is very undesirable due to the damage it can do to aquatic life. Never wash your hands with soap in a stream. It will have an effect on that stream for miles down stream.

Mind you, it is hardly neuclear waste.

There is far too much hand wringing over grey water oround bush camps, speaking as a retired plumber, given the quantities usually involved in caravans. In fact in most instances it would be beneficial to the environment in most instances.

It is not a problem unless in fairly large quantities such as produced by storing it in grey larger water tanks like 200 litre tanks although 200 is still not a large quantity.

As Motherhen says again "Get rid of it as soon as it is created" and there are far less issues unless you are camped on top of each other such as in van parks.
That is why drains are provided in those instances.

This grey water tank thing I am sure is an issue being pushed by the CMCA in a vain attempt to suggest that motorhomes are more environmentally friendly than caravans due to the former having grey water tanks fitted. Storm in a tea cup IMHO.

Then again it is probably being pushed along by those idiots doing the wrong thing like the motorhomer that pulled into the garage where the brother works. The brother is a member of the CMCA so when this guy pulled in with the valve on his black water tank open the brother said to him "Are you aware that your black tank valve is open" the guy said "Yeah, so what".
"It's bloody illegal that's what" the brother said. The guy could not have cared less. Worse was that the mongrel had driven past a dump point to get to where he was.

Pop,

I would doubt there would be many caravans which could carry 200 ltrs of grey water not to mention 200 ltrs of fresh water.

'Black water' on the other hand is a whole other environmental issue.

Cheers, Bruce.
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Follow Up By: Member-Heather MG NSW - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:52

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 14:52
Hi Bruce,

Interestingly, while staying n a campground in Yuraygir N Pk in Nthn NSW we for the first time were questioned about the grey water (sullage) hose which was coming from our van. Apparently national Parks are beginning to tighten up the rules although I am not sure how they do it for people staying in tents as I am sure they also have to wash dishes and themselves...

As others have stated, many caravan parks in more arid climates which we have stayed in, prefer sullage hoses to drain directly onto shrubs, sometimes even when sullage points are provided.
I can understand in free camps within or close to towns the need to limit people staying to those who are self contained as they do tend to be busier with each passing year. It is for the occasional time when we might use one of these places that it would be convenient to have either a tank or collapsible storage container.

regards,

Heather
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:27

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:27
Obviously a lot of difference between the disposal of and probably quantity of black and grey water. We had experience of a guy with what I would call a home on wheels rather than a motor home. This thing was towed behind a prime mover and expanded hydraulically when he parked it. The wife and I happened to be taking a walk down this access road when he was leaving. We had camped on a station stay. When we crested a rise we saw this thing pulled up about 1/2 k further on. He pulled away before we got there but we certainly found out why he had pulled up. Actually we smelt it before we got to the mess he had left. From what had been dumped it appeared he had opened both grey and black water holding tanks on the road.
If this clown had driven about an hour down the highway he would have been able to use a public dump point. We told the camp host couple what we had found, his reply was to the effect that he wasn't surprised as the guy was a real ignorant SOB.
As far as disposal, yes we have put a bucket under our outlet for grey water and emptied it onto trees or into a toilet if available and no not a long drop. Yeah those plug on hoses can get quite ripe if not cleaned often.
As far as quantity goes our van can hold 160lt of fresh water and if parked up for long enough at a site where water is available we could quite easily wind up with in excess of this capacity if dump facilities are not simply a matter of a sullage point or putting on trees etc isn't an option.
So far we have not been in a situation where any difficulties have been encountered but for how long given the increasing amount of vans and motorhomes on the roads.

Cheers
Pop
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:02

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:02
Hi Heather,
can you elaborate a little more on what was said and what was suggested by the Nat Parks person?. I would be interested to hear the full story if you have the time.

I have stayed many places over the northern tablelands NSW and west and east of that and have never been questioned re greywater.

I often stay in State rec Areas and Nat Parks and they have no facilities for grey water disposal at their sites. Tap water is often available but not grey water disposal. Many have dump points.

Cheers, Bruce.
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Follow Up By: Member-Heather MG NSW - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:17

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:17
Hi Bruce,

Well he asked what the hoses were for and we told him washing up and shower water....only grey water and he said something to the effect of 'I'm not really all that happy about that' although we were only one of about three sites occupied in the campground...so it's not as though it was busy.
He didn't say it was not allowed...just seemed to disapprove.

He asked us whether we had a toilet on board and we told him we have a cassette toilet which he must have thought we might try to empty as well! ( We obviously would not even think about dumping this anywhere except in a dump point).

We too have stayed in many National park campgrounds in various states and have never before been questioned so it was a bit of a surprise...maybe its another ploy to turn people off choosing to stay in NSW National Parks...not sure ...but I hope not as we love them for the walks, animal and bird life, location...
If necessary we will collect ours in collapsible containers and take it to a place where we can dispose of it.

When our National Parks pass is due in a couple of months, I will call in to the local office and ask what the situation is with grey water and report back.

cheers,

Heather
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:55

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:55
Thanks for that Heather.
Sounds as though it may have been somewhat a personal opinion on his part although there may be some shift in policy by the Dept.

If there were a lot of campers on top of each other then you could accept that there may be an issue but 5 or 8 vans spaced at around 50 feet or more apart would not create a problem especially on porous ground. I know of a couple of comercial caravan parks in western NSW which have dodgy sullage drains and there is still not a problem.

Cheers, Bruce.
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:10

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:10
I think there may be some truth to the argument that it is a motorhome conspiracy to allow exclusive use of sites by motorhomes to the exclusion of others.

As stated above, campers in tents dispose of waste water by broadcast as I always did.

It is a move that we must resist.

Alan
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:41

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 15:41
Alan, I agree that it is a move which should be resisted and further that there may be some ulterior motive.

I won't say conspiracy, although I do find it unusual that the CMCA does not welcome caravans into their rallies. Their comment is that you can become a member if you own a caravan but you cannot attend the rallies in a caravan.

BUT
you can if it is a fifth wheeler. Go figure. Isn't a fifth wheeler a caravan????. I am begining to believe it is an elitist organisation.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:58

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 16:58
The CMCA 'Leave No Trace' requirements
" Members who participate in the Leave No Trace® scheme must have a vehicle that has the capacity to retain ALL waste within the confines of the vehicle, and leave no trace whatsoever of its visit to a site. To qualify, vehicles must carry a minimum of 20 litres of fresh water, have a grey water holding tank with a minimum capacity of 5 litres per person or 15 litres per person if the vehicle is fitted with a shower, and have a portable toilet cassette or black water holding tank with a minimum capacity of the smallest portable toilet cassette.
To stay in any Rest Area for a maximum of 5 nights, unless otherwise posted, or for the period that the Accommodation Vehicle can be self contained. "
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 22:15

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 22:15
CMCA who?
Oh God - not another self-appointed expert lecturing to the uneducated masses.
Spare me the crap!
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