Today we want to talk about a crucial topic. It’s so important it’s the #1 and #2 most important topic in many RV groups.
All joking aside, what you do with your RV black water is incredibly important. Let’s dive in to learn why.
What is RV Black Water?
RV black water contains the liquids and solids that end up flushed down the toilet. The materials combine and break down in the underbelly of the RV in a designated tank. In other words, it’s the equivalent of a septic tank in a sticks and bricks house.
This tank is the tank that many RVers dread emptying, but it becomes less stressful with experience. As RV black water contains raw sewage, proper sanitation measures must be followed when emptying this tank.
Gray Water vs. Black Water
Water in RV tanks comes in three different types: freshwater, gray water, and black water. Freshwater comes out of the faucets, but knowing the difference between gray water and black water is very important.
Gray water is any liquid that goes down the drain from a sink or shower. This will be primarily soapy water from showering and doing those pesky dishes.
However, black water is not the same as gray water. Blackwater is what goes down the toilet, whether it is solids or liquids. Blackwater is raw sewage and you should treat it as such.
How Much Black Water Can an RV Hold?
If your RV has a bathroom, you’ll have a black water tank. In addition, the size of the black water tank will vary from one RV to the next. Smaller RVs can hold 18-30 gallons, while giant toy haulers have been known to hold 100+ gallons. Many RVs with more than one bathroom will often have more than one black water tank as well.
Where To Dump Your RV Black Water: Wrong Answers
1. On the Ground
Raw sewage contains harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Not only do you not want the smell of raw sewage, but these harmful microorganisms can be dangerous! Not only to the environment but the health of humans and animals.
It may be tempting to dump black water onto the ground, especially when no one is around or looking. But don’t even think about it, as it is still extraordinarily illegal and hazardous to do so. Not only does black water contaminate the ground, but it also makes the area uninhabitable until the sewage breaks down over time. The smell that black water puts off will quickly run off any individuals desiring to camp in the vicinity of where the black water was dumped. If you spot someone dumping in this manner, please report it to the local authorities immediately.
2. Into a Stream, River, Lake, or Ocean
Aquatic water environments are already highly fragile habitats for fish, plants, and other wildlife. Therefore, dumping black water into a stream, river, lake, or ocean damages food sources for humans and animals. Local authorities treat this crime very seriously, and individuals caught dumping black water into aquatic sources will receive substantial fines, possibly even jail time. If you see or are aware of someone dumping black water in this manner, it should be reported to local authorities immediately.
3. Into A City Street Drain
Cousin Eddie is the only person who can dump his black water into a city street drain. You’re not Cousin Eddie. In all seriousness, you don’t want to do what Cousin Eddie did. Dumping your RV black water into a city street drain is highly illegal and will land you a hefty fine and most likely an appearance in court.
In addition, city street drains will typically run to an underground drainage system that connects with a reservoir of some sort – a lake, river, or pond. Illegal dumping of this sort can contaminate the environment of plants, fish, and other wildlife. Therefore, if you spot someone dumping in this manner, it should be reported to the proper authorities immediately.
Where To Dump RV Black Water Properly and Legally: Right Answers
1. At an Approved RV Dump Station
Many campgrounds will have an RV dump station for RVers to use on their way out of the campground. For instance, these are usually equipped with water for flushing tanks or hoses and are spacious enough to handle even big rigs. These are usually the most convenient locations to dump black water, and lines can worsen during peak checkout times.
2. Into Septic Tank at Home
You can skip by that long line at the RV dump station when leaving the campground if you have access to a septic tank at home. A residential septic tank is designed to handle an average residential volume of sewage.
Septic tanks can easily take the additional volume from an RV and not cause any issues. It is essential to dump plenty of water into the septic when dumping solids to help with the breakdown of materials.
3. Into Sewer Cleanout At Home (Pending Local Regulations)
Many houses have what is known as a sewer cleanout that sends sewage from the residence to the city’s sewage connection. For instance, this type of system would allow an RV to send the gray and black water from their tanks into the city’s sewage.
The regulations as to how these connections can be used vary based on local laws. As a result of varying rules, you should verify the legality of using this method with your local municipalities.
Why It’s Illegal To Dump Black Water Anywhere
It probably goes without saying, but black water is not only full of bacteria but smells disgusting. In addition, the microorganisms found in black water can lead to E. coli, typhoid fever, salmonella, and cholera and contaminates plants and animals’ environment. Local authorities will take legal action against individuals who violate dumping laws.
Do the Right Thing
We know that dumping black water from your RV tanks is most likely not your favorite part of RVing, but it must be done.
We hope the next time your black tanks are full, you’ll be able to quickly and easily find one of the three legal ways to dump your tanks. What is your preferred method for emptying your black water tanks?
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