Fresh Water, Grey Water, Sustainability

The Holding Tanks: Fresh, Grey, & Black

Fresh Water

Fresh Water is the most important “off-grid” consideration for us, above even our solar panels. we can stand to go without power, but we can’t live without water. We’d like a large fresh water tank, something that could sustain 1-2 weeks boondocking. In real world terms, how long fresh water lasts, comes down to usage.

What you want to do with your freshwater supply? Will you be using it for drinking water only? Or do you want the luxury of a hot shower at the end of every day? These, and many other variables factor in to how long your water will last.

If we consider, at the minimum, 1 gallon of drinking water, per person, per day:

1 Gallons x 14 Days  = 14 Gallon Holding Tank Minimum….Since their will be two of us I had been planning fort a freshwater tank of a minimum 50 gallons. That would give us just under a months worth of drinking water each if we were in the unlikely situation that we were unable to refill (maybe S. America?).


How and Where to Fill Your Freshwater Tanks

Grey Water

Our plans for the Grey Water system are pretty standard, grey water should only come from the Kitchen & Bathroom Sinks, and the Shower. These drains should have some kind of solids screen filter to prevent solids from flowing to the grey tank. Grey water lines, like fresh water lines, can be a smaller diameter since no solids will be passing through. Since this water is no longer fresh, yet it’s not human waste, it goes to it’s own holding tank to be used for other purposes. Since the Grey Water has the solids filtered out, I plan to use another water pump in the Grey Water tank to  flush the toilet. This concept of grey water allows us to use the same volume of water for multiple tasks, conserving water, while sustaining some of the comforts of home!

A standard garden hose can be used to drain the grey water tank, should it begin to fill. This hose could also be used to clean out the black water tank from the outside, through the toilet. It is not uncommon for the grey and black tank to be connected to the same drain valve. NOTHING but the Fresh Water Fill line should be used to fill the Fresh Water Tanks.

Black Water

All waste from the toilet will go straight into the Black Water tank. This tank is for the toilet, and the toilet only. Water to flush the toilet will come from the grey water tank; it is important to not waste fresh water flushing the toilet.

It is important to “prime” your black water tank with some type of water (fresh or grey), this will trap any of those early added odors, amd helps ensure solids will not clump. When emptying the black water tank, wait until it is over 1/2 full. This will give solids the maximum amount of time to break down; as well as adding enough liquid to transport the solids out of the tank. To empty the tank, you will need a waste tank draining hose as well as a coupling, like this.

In between…ahem…dumps (of the black water tank) we will be using Happy Campers Organic Black Water Treatment. Happy Campers works like an Enzyme in breaking down waste, instead of using chemicals. These products not only control odors, they also help break down toilet paper and other solids. Due to it’s ability to also control odor, we will be using this product in our grey tank also. The reviews are all extremely positive.

blackwater organic.jpg

When draining your black water tank, always do it before emptying your grey water tank. This allows the “cleaner” grey water to “rinse” the lines on their way out. You should also plan to give your black water system a little more attention from time to time in order to clean any deposit build-ups as well as potential clogs.

Camco “Swivel Stick”

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