Monday, 9 June 2014

Collecting Water

We’ve been asked a few times how we go about collecting water for our fresh water tank while we’re on the road. Our tank holds 160 litres and we use on average 40 litres a day so basically we have four days of water available after filling. The 40 litres includes; daily showers, hand washing, toilet flush and dish washing and while we are cautious with our water use, we are not paranoid. The 40 litres does not include drinking water, we collect & carry that separately. When there is water available on our site, usually at a fully serviced camp ground, it’s not a problem we fill via our hose direct into the tank. Occasionally we’ll in fact by-pass the tank & water pump, connecting the hose to the van permanently (while on site), which supplies the water, under pressure, directly to the taps in our van.

On some of the sites that we have stayed at there is a potable water tap available but usually some distance from the van. On other sites like the DOC (Department of Conservation) camp sites or when we're freedom camping, there is always a river, stream or lake not too far from the van with good clean water available. And of course when it rains there is an excess amount of the crystal clear stuff falling off every corner of the fifth-wheeler and the awning which is usually extended & tied down (providing there is not gale force winds of course). Often one corner is tied lower than the other to help with the flow & increase the amount collected. The awning is also a good shelter & protects the ground in front of our door from becoming too boggy.

Some RVs have a hose connector & funnel system in the corner of their awning with a hose attached which is then fed directly into the tank. Great for when it's raining but how do they fill the tank when it’s not raining? This is how we do it. And it’s an inexpensive set up too!

One 40 litre flexible rubber bucket from The Warehouse $6
One plastic hook with sucker pad from Payless Plastics $3
One large funnel with bendy nozzle from Payless Plastics $6
One strong man.

The rubber bucket can be used to collect rainwater off the end of the awning (after a suitable wash down period has elapsed). In a heavy downpour it fills in less than 5 minutes. It can also be used to collect water from the stream, lake or nearby tap. Being flexible is very important, it aids with carrying it over rough terrain and also bends to fit between rocks etc when filling it out of a shallow stream.

We actually have two rubber buckets and we keep them for their intended use only so there is no contamination. Even though we don’t drink the tank water we still do use it to clean our teeth, cook vegetables & do the dishes. The blue one is for fresh water only & I also use it to cart dry &/or wet laundry. Our black one is used to carry any grey water we may need to empty before moving off site (emptying it in the appropriate place of course), it’s used by David to wash the vehicles & I guess in an emergency it could be used for black water. Luckily that emergency hasn’t happen yet….*touch wood*

For our drinking water we have a 7 litre Rubbermaid water container with a tap that sits on our bench & three 10 litre containers that we top it up with. We rotate two of them & keep the third for emergencies. We fill these with rain water, tank water or spring water as we come across supplies. As a last resort I will buy 10 litres of water from the Supermarket at around $7. I am not a fan of treated city water & can taste (and smell) chloride & fluoride from 100 paces.

We have found some excellent water supplies on out travels, two that spring to mind (no pun intended) are at Weir Beach Reserve in the Catlins & the spring outside the community hall in Lowburn, Cromwell where for a gold coin donation you can fill your tanks. Both have crystal clear spring water.

Weir Beach Reserve, Catlins

Lowburn Community Hall


  1. I hadn't wondered much at all, but it was very interesting to know about your water supply. I don't seem to notice different water now but when I went to live in Dunedin in 1982 the city water was almost undrinkable in the beginning to me. I got used to it. Now we're told to run 500mls of water in the morning before drinking the water to run off heavy metals. How does that apply to spring water do you think?

    1. Funny you should mention Dunedin, we are now parked up at Woodhaugh just 4 kms from the city centre & the water supply here tastes pretty good. I think it must come out of the stream beside us. I haven't noticed any taste in any of our spring water but then most times it would have flowed a bit before we filled the containers, either into the grate or into the tank before being directed into the containers. I will take note to taste at the beginning next time we find a spring.


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