When we are at home, we turn on the tap and basically we have a never-ending flow of clear clean water. Because of this, we use a lot of water for washing dishes, long hot showers, brushing our teeth and the essential flushing the toilet (even the water-save type uses a lot of water!).
When we are Boondocking, we require a complete change of habit in our water usage. It means that we must be conscious of the fact that our fresh water supply is limited to what we carry. Blue Streak carries 40 US gallons (152 litres) of Fresh Water. It should be noted that we have the same size Grey Water storage capacity and 18 US gallons (68 litres) Black Water storage capacity. So the bottomline is, if we run out of water earlier than planned – well, what are you going to do? Our options are limited and they all suck. You’re left with; 1) pack-up and go home, 2) go somewhere to get water (assuming you have containers to fill or [?] hook-up and take the trailer for a fill-up), 3) carry a water bladder in the truck bed (assuming you can handle the extra weight). Often, in the BC Provincial Park Campgrounds there is “Potable Water” available via a hand pump well. For that, we carry a 5 gallon jug + a collapsible wagon. (Water is heavy, just saying.)
Following are things we do and have done over the years to conserve water.
1. Paper Plates ?
Needless to say, you have no need to wash them. Plus, After, you can use them as kindling for campfires. If you save them (pack it in-pack it out), the paper can be composted and in that way is environment friendly. Since We live in British Columbia Canada, I would point out paper also is made from a “renewable resource” called trees. Disclaimer: We now carry them only for emergency usage as we much prefer eating off Corelle Ware dishes.
2. Save water by showering with a friend ? (there are several things you can add to this suggestion)
Use a water-saver shower head such as the “Oxygenics BodySpa” which we have installed. We also take “Navy Showers” (The basic idea is to get yourself wet all over as soon as you turn the shower on, and then turn it off, soap up, finally, rinse off.) We sometimes collect the water while waiting for the shower water to warm up to use to flush the toilet.
There is also the option to do “Sponge Baths” (small bucket, face cloth, soap – and do the body wipe down). I know some people also use dry shampoo to clean your hair. Dry shampoo absorbs the oil and dust in your hair, so you can brush it away without using any water. (As a side note: bald is beautiful) We seldom brush our teeth in Blue Streak because it’s simpler to just take a cup half full of water to brush our teeth outside, especially when it’s nice out.
Disclaimer: I should confess that where we boondock on Vancouver Island, 90% of the time we are located next to a “fresh water lake” so showering is not an issue ? swimming is preferred!
3. In The Kitchen ?
We have found that dish washing and food preparation are the #1 water usage while boondocking. Not only Fresh Water usage but also Grey Water storage. Yes, managing Grey Water is just as important as using Fresh Water!
We use a sink-sized basin for dish washing. Collect the rinse water in another basin and use the rinse water for toilet flushing later. (If appropriate, we empty the basin in the bush to lesson the Grey Water storage). Before dishwashing, we give the dishes a wipe with paper towels or newsprint to remove food particles. (We sometimes hold off and wash dishes once a day.) It’s helpful to prewash vegetables, fruits etc. at home. We use Foil Packs for vegetables on the BBQ. (Again a confession – we do 90% of our cooking at our outdoor kitchen). The heaviest water use is that 1 litre thermal carafe of morning coffee (yep, fresh ground!)
4. Toilet Water Usage ?
Some people have solved this by converting to a “Compost Toilet System” – thus no water usage at all. In truth, the toilet is a catch 22. You require water to make sure the “solids” don’t form a mound. Before we leave on a trip we “charge” the Black Tank with 2 gallons of water + the Bio Chemicals. During usage, we do the “1-2-3 count” on a flush. Normal usage then will last 7 to 10 days before the Black Tank requests we look for a “Dump Station”. Also, if there are Pit Toilets available at the campgrounds, this is a great way to conserve water. ?