Grey water is defined as any waste water from your caravan, camper, motorhome – or even your house – which does not come from the toilet (black water). This includes your kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower and washing machine, etc. The water, while not in the realm of black water, is still unclean, as it contains soap, oils, detergents, food scraps and so on.
It’s a simple fact, but one that’s hard to comprehend, that most caravans in Australia are not fitted with grey water tanks, while the vast majority of motorhomes are.
Sure, some new caravans do come out of the factory with grey water tanks as standard, and some travellers choose to have them retro-fitted – but both are still in the minority.
But as many of us take a more environmentally friendly outlook on life, and aim to reduce our footprint when travelling, we should be thinking more consciously about how we collect and dispose of our grey water on the road.
So what are our options?
OPTION 1: LET IT RUN
It’s not uncommon, whether in a caravan park or a free bush camp, to see grey water flowing freely on to the ground under or beside the caravan, or a short distance away into the bushes or trees, via a short hose.
Either way, the waste water ends up in the same place – in the nearest water-course, or leeching into the groundwater. And, either way, it’s far from ideal. And as restrictions on dumping become more stringent around the country, it’s likely you’ll soon lose permission to do so.
OPTION 2: STORE IT
The better option is to store your grey water in a holding tank for disposal later on, in a suitable place such as a dump point.
There are several options for storing your grey water – it doesn’t have to be a permanent or specific grey water tank.
Bucket: Simply place a bucket under your grey water outlet to collect the discharge, so you can walk it over to the dump point or another suitable discharge point. You’ll need to keep an eye on it, though, as it may fill up quickly, and could be heavy to carry around.
Wheeled receptacle: A better option may be a purpose-built (professional or home-made) receptacle on wheels. The principle is the same as the bucket, but the wheels make it much easier to manoeuvre to the dump point. You may even be able to find something bigger than a bucket, which will allow you to dispose less often.
Grey water tank: A purpose-built and installed grey water tank is the best an most efficient method of collection and storing grey water. They can often be over 100L in capacity, meaning you can go for days without having to worry about disposing of it. And, as the tanks are fully sealed, you can transport the waste easily on-board until you reach a dump point or similar. While some caravan manufacturers offer grey water tanks as either a standard or optional fitting, it’s worth asking about them even if they don’t.
MEET THE AUTHOR
An RV journalist working across Australia’s premier caravanning and camping magazines for the past five years, Laura is also a judge at the annual Best Aussie Vans awards. She has been camping in the great outdoors since the of two, when she was packed, by day, into a Toyota LiteAce van and, by night, into a brown canvas tent with her parents and two siblings for an extended trip around the vast playground that is northern Western Australia.