Clean Water

Here is a story from R D (Chad) Chadwick, the RV Guru, that has resonance.

“I get numerous RV owners complaining about the taste and odour of the water in their tanks? What can we do about it?

“Firstly, RV manufacturers install high-quality tanks suitable for holding drinking water, so it’s not the tank at fault, but what owners put in it! In your travels you will find access to fresh water across our continent varies considerably. Many townships use bore water, which can taste unusual and sometimes smell due to the excess minerals.

“Floods and droughts also have an effect on the quality of available water. All this means the high-quality water you are used to at home may not be available for your entire trip.

“Most RVs will have at least one 90-litre water tank allowing us to carry some decent drinking water, which is welcomed when you are freedom camping in poor water quality areas.

“Here are eight tips to ensure you have good clean water in your tanks where to get it and how to transport.”

  1. Change the water in your tanks regularly. Leaving water in your tanks for long periods results in the possibility that bacteria and algae will develop fouling the water. Either use the water regularly or empty the tank periodically. Don’t forget to run water through all the taps regularly to remove any stagnant water sitting in the pipes.
  2. Change the water filter on your drinking water tap at least every 12 months, shorter if using daily for long periods. We do ours every 9-12 months and we live full time in the van. Hoses are important. Use only food-grade hoses (usually blue in colour and labelled ‘food grade’). Don’t use a common garden hose to fill your tanks, this type of plastic imparts an unpleasant taste and odour to the water as it passes through it. Filter water going into your tanks If you’re making the effort of filling your water tanks, you may as well ensure the water going in is as clean as possible. There are numerous types of water filters on the market that are suitable for RV use. Many owners use the large twin filter units to great effect. They incorporate a sediment filter to remove dirt and other particles and an activated charcoal filter to remove any organic compounds and chlorine taste from the water. A simple inline filter will do the job. This is only necessary if the water is iffy. For drinking water, we installed a household filter under the sink with its own faucet. If having a new RV built, I recommend installing a filter at manufacture time.
  3. Keep your tanks clean. No matter how careful you are with the quality of water you put into your tanks, it is possible for the tanks to develop an unpleasant taste. There are many products available to clean water tanks, however, a popular alternative is to pour lime or raspberry flavoured cordial into the tanks then take the RV for a drive. This stirs the liquid inside the tanks. Next, fill the tanks with clean water, road stir then drain. Refill with clean water and drain again. Do this as often as is necessary to remove any trace of the cordial taste in the water.
  4. Where to fill your water tanks? At the moment, Australia is experiencing a wetter than usual summer thanks to the effects of a current La Nina event. Despite this, many areas of the country remain in a drought, so don’t assume it’s OK to fill your water tanks from anywhere you find a tap. Many towns are literally running out of water or are under severe water restrictions. Before you fill up it pays to ask first. And never, never wash your van in places with limited water – I’ve seen it so many times and it infuriates me. It gives RVers a bad name and it’s being extremely selfish for the sake of a clean looking van!
  5. Caravan park fill ups. Please be aware. The further away from a major town you go the harder it is for caravan parks to supply all us with wet facilities. Some are not even connected to town water and rely on their water either from bores or other natural water sources. Some have to purify their water via expensive reverse osmoses filtration systems. These parks usually have a mix of potable and non-potable sources of water distributed throughout the park. Always check before filling up your water tanks at a caravan park.
  6. Rainwater is the best tasting and so soft to wash in. If it does rain and you are in places with limited supply, it can be a good idea to set your RV up to capture rainwater and use it to fill your tanks. An old plastic bucket/container with reticulation connections in the base that enables you to click a hose to is all you need (even an old canvas shower). Extend your awning and ensure one end is sitting lower than the other so the water flows down to one corner. Hang the bucket at the lower corner to capture the water as it falls off the awning. Connect a hose to the fittings and run it into your water tank filler. Commercial versions with clips to make a gutter are available. Tip: Wait five minutes once it starts raining before collecting – that way you avoid all the dust and road grime entering your tanks.
  7. Water stations. We’ve noticed there are an increasing number of water-filling stations popping up across the country specifically to service caravanners travelling through their towns. If you must travel with your water tanks full, look out for these filling stations and use them.
  8. Transporting water. If you stay at one remote location or freedom camp for more than a week, it may be necessary to obtain water elsewhere and transport back to your camp. Moving the RV can be a pain and jerry cans are limited and hard to store more than one. A better solution is to carry a collapsible water bladder. Manufactured in a range of sizes, they are lightweight and store away very easily.

There you have it, your freshwater problems solved. Who’d have thought cordial would be the saviour? Don’t take water for granted – it’s precious stuff.

Check out more interesting info from Chad at