Wednesday, April 22, 2015

RV water boy

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I can lead my wife to water, but I can’t make her drink. We travel in our fifth wheel several months a year. We are usually in the West in the summer and Florida in the winter months. My wife will not drink the water we put in our tanks. I have filters on the inlet, filters at the sink, and pitcher filters strictly for drinking water. She has a hang-up about where we get some of our water, often near dump stations.

In Florida she says it smells like sulfur and tastes like swamp water; out in New Mexico she read about a leaky waste site with groundwater contamination from the Hiroshima bomb. I can’t win. She would keep buying bottled water even if I hooked up to a sparkling glacier.

Don’t you think this borders on paranoia? I don’t think many RVers are dying from drinking water. Please let me hear from you on this issue.
--Water Boy in Boynton

Dear Water Boy:
I would not call this paranoia. Paranoia would be anxiety or fear based on irrationality and delusion. Your wife has some very real concerns. I’m not sure buying bottled water is the answer -- who knows where that came from. Actually, you might not want to bring that point up.

Some Florida water does contain sulfur. It is wise to flush your tanks after spending a winter down there, especially your hot water tank.

As for New Mexico, she has a right to be concerned. The waste from our first bomb experiments is leaking into the Rio Grande. It is also causing some concern near Carlsbad, where some of it was moved and stored.

Most dump stations are signed to show “potable” and “non-potable” water. However, if you do enough traveling you will see people using the wrong hose for the wrong purpose. I have tried to educate many foreign visitors with rented motorhomes as to which hose is for sewer rinse and which is for filling the fresh water tank.

Some people are more susceptible to waterborne disease than others. I have been drinking unfiltered water in the backcountry for fifty years without incident. My wife thinks I am going to die from giardia. So far so good.

I think you should continue taking every precaution that makes your wife feel comfortable. Nothing is going to be foolproof, but good sanitation habits, concern over your water sources, and good old common sense should keep you safe wherever you travel.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

15 comments:

Merikay MacKenna said...

We drink our double filtered water all of the time, and so far we have been lucky, but that doesn't mean we are always 100% safe.
Let her alone about the bottled water. It is a small thing. If this is a deal breaker, you shouldn't be travelers.

rbowen1063 said...

If posible, bottle your water at home or places in the grocery store. Carry 7 gallons, which might last a week?

MrTommy said...

We used to haul gallon jugs of water with us so we weren't drinking from our fresh water tank. This just resulted in a lot more extra weight, and the water in the jugs came from our home water (which is where we initially fill our fresh water tank). Finally we just decided we didn't need to do this. We use a Brita filter to 'make' drinking and coffee water. As we travel we fill our fresh water anywhere that has potable water (city parks, campgrounds, RV parks, state parks, etc). 20+ years and no problems.

Roy said...

I installed an RO (Reverse Osmosis) unit in our last 2 RVs.We drink the water from Guadalajara to Alberta. If you're even more concerned you can add a UV light.

Diedrich said...

We used to drink from our water tank all the time. It took one time for me to pick up some kind of bacteria and make me so sick I spent a week in the hospital. I have some other health issues that may have contributed to this but now we drink only from bottled water and so far so good.

Fred said...

We drink only bottled water in our fulltime travels. When I was working and in commercial sales, I had a female customer about 30 years ago that I called on every few weeks. One summer while on a vacation,she went on a day hike in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. She drank some water from a flowing stream. A week later, when she had returned to Michigan, she fell ill and became paralyzed from the waist down. Her doctor told her it was caused by a bug she picked up from the stream water. She was paralyzed and confined to a wheel chair for the rest of her life. It's not worth the risk to drink from unknown water sources, though many people do it.

Cindy Rogers said...

We have a Burkey water filtration system...looks somewhat like a 100 cup coffee brewer. Just fill with your tap water from any source and it removes all the bad stuff....we love it!

Ellen said...

My husband has been drinking distilled water for many, many years -- and me for the twenty I've known him. We're both healthier than others we know our age (and even half!), so we're confident this is a factor. Whenever we change the filters we use for our fresh tank and I see green gunk or orange smear on them, I'm glad I don't drink it. Most RVers we know haul their drinking water. You can find distilled water (the best bet to be sure it's pure) just about anywhere.

GR Scott Cundiff said...

X2 on a R/O system - the water tastes the same where ever we go.

Bob Wexler said...

We have a double filter (sediment and carbon 9") for all the water that enters the coach and then an RO system for all the drinking water. It took about a year to convince my wife to give up bottled water. We were half time for 4 years and full time for 5 more years.
Now we are in a stick house with an RO system for drinking water.

Anonymous said...

Municipal water is tested. Therefore, if you fill your clean tanks with it you are good to go. Bottled water is not tested. Most bottled water is bottled from the springs in central Florida. Yes, even Perrier!

Anonymous said...

My daughter was firmly convinced that her bottled water was better than our city water until I showed her on her water bottle label where it stated "Miami City Tap Water" but she still remains convinced that bottled water is better when often it is just city water filtered and bottled. A friend who owned a beer distributership told me that he made more money selling bottled water than beer! Nuff said!

Peter Pan said...

When ever I filled the water tank I added a capful or 2 of bleach.
Never had a problem. It's not enough to change the flavor, but keeps the tank clean.

Mark Walsh said...

A large percentage of bottled water is tap water from a municipality. I read an article recently which stated that water from refilling machines in grocery stores is generally tap water and is safe BEFORE it goes through the machine Bacteria in the machines will contaminate the otherwise good water. Tap water is treated and considered safe. I use exterior filters and Brita for our drinking water. My wife buys bottled water but I have seen several studies which showed about 25% of bottled water was considered less healthy than tap water. Get a good filter system and take your chances is about the best advise anyone can offer.

Anonymous said...

You could also buy a water distiller and distill your water wherever you go. They csn be found on amazon or ebay