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Old 09-20-2019, 03:29 PM   #1
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Have you ever done this dirty deed?

We do a lot of back country backpacking and lightweight tent camping in federal, and state parks. When we wash dishes, bathe or brush our teeth, we dump the gray water on the ground. (granted, this is very little water because we packed it in) In areas where there are no outhouses,(which is most places that we hike) we go off trail, dig a hole and do our business. However, anything that doesn't pass completely thru our body gets packed out in ziplock bags (think used toilet paper, feminine hygiene, etc )

When we are boondocking in the motorhome, I often wonder why folks don't dump their gray water on the ground. When we are camping on our private property, we empty our gray water tank on the ground in a out of the way area where the vegetation and trees actually benefit from the water. I completely understand that boondocking in a urban area like Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc would be REALLY bad form and illegal to empty a gray water tank on the ground. Also, I understand that it would be breaking the law in a state or federal park.

But what about other areas where folks boondock in their TT or motorhomes?
If its OK to do while backpacking, why not in a camper? After all, isn't this just water that we washed dishes or bathed in? And because we are boondocking, its NOT a lot of water if emptied daily.....

I know that most people SAY that they never would do this, but I have seen evidence of quite a few campers do this over the years, especially late in the evening or when its raining, where they can hide the evidence of their dirty deed.

So, what about you? Are you guilty of this dirty deed?

Have you seen this?

If you are a "I would NEVER do this person"..............WHY?

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Old 09-20-2019, 03:55 PM   #2
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Right or wrong, I admit I've dumped my gray water but made sure it was in an area where other campers wouldn't encounter it while it soaked into the bushes/trees/etc. We don't use harsh chemicals in our dishwashing activities nor, obviously, in our shower. I really don't see any harm unless you're leaving a mess that someone is going to have to walk through, etc.

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Old 09-20-2019, 04:03 PM   #3
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Yeah on rare occasions I have just barely cracked the gray water valve open, to avoid a flood, and drained the gray tank into the weeds and bushes. Harmless in my opinion. But if everyone did it then that could be a problem....
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:06 PM   #4
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It depends. The rules vary from one national forest to another. Some allow draining of gray water, some don't. Ask the rangers!
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:04 PM   #5
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Well... we're ones who do not dump our tank on the ground. First, it's not allowed everywhere. Second, you can always tell when someone previously had the spot and did it. Unless you wipe your dishes before washing there will be food particles, coffee grounds, toothpaste and soap residue. Third, we could last two weeks on our tanks and by then we were ready to move on anyway.

You can always dump gray water from a dishpan for flushing the toilet to free up some room.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:11 PM   #6
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I have 78 gallons of grey waste capacity.

So when boondocking I haul in the fresh water and haul out the waste water
Part of that 'self-contained' concept with an RV
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:08 PM   #7
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We boondock in the desert. I run a hose downhill, and crack the gray valve. Food doesn’t enter our tank, so it’s just natural soap, hot water, dirt from our bodies, and toothpaste.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:36 PM   #8
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Used to it was a common practice but boondocking areas are a lot more crowded than they used to be, but despite that I have an adapter that fits on my drain valve that has a garden hose attachment on it and I have been known to run off a little gray water into the bushes every now and then.By the way I have two gray water tanks totaling 76 gallons, and I boondock about 95% of the time.

I wouldn't worry about food particles from what I've seen the little critters carry them off as fast as they can.

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Old 09-21-2019, 04:54 PM   #9
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If you must do this, dig a hole first, run the water into the hole, then bury it.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:07 PM   #10
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We intentionally drain our grey water on our two private ranches. One in AZ where it is encouraged and the other in CO where water rights laws (raparian) are screwed up.

However, in public lands we don't. It's not about the biodegradable food particles, it's because it passes through the same 3" tube for dumping your black tank and that can create a biohazard and it leaves an odor for the next person.

It's like the campers that don't use self contained units and you pull into a spot and see poopy toilet paper stuck to a bush or rocks. It's just an unpleasant experience.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:22 PM   #11
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Dumping of grey water is one of the reasons being cited for shutting down boondocking out west on public lands. I’ve been at a couple land use meetings in the last couple years where it was brought up, including one of the meetings that resulted in several closures around Moab. Besides pictures of assorted trash and land damage, photos of areas where grey water was dumped were referenced as “folks dumping raw sewage” If we want to keep access to public lands, compliance with rules for that area is important. People do notice.

Also, for those that don’t know, hauling out your crap is now mandatory in some permit required backpacking areas now, with random inspections to make sure you’re in compliance. Can just imagine how a ranger gets that sort of @#$# detail.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:29 PM   #12
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In some states it's illegal everywhere, BUT, that never stopped me from some inconspicuous draining of grey water if I needed to, especially on private land.

Really no different than a septic tank drain field.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:46 PM   #13
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When camped in boon docking sites where people tent camp I will dump gray water in the bushes/grass. It is no different than what tent campers are dumping. Most places I boon dock the chances of someone else camping on the same spot is remote.

I have and still tent camp and backpack and practice leave no trace. But that does not include backpacking your waste water out. In some places have had to carry out solid human waste.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:48 PM   #14
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Is it a dirty deed in areas where land management approves it?

Every drop of water on the planet has entered and exited more organisms large and small than any of us know.

Some have the perspective that the magic sewer system makes it all vanish. All that effluent ends up somewhere.

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