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Old 05-31-2015, 12:41 PM   #15
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1974 27' Overlander
Twisp , Washington
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 8
Dig a "septic tank"

I applaud you for wanting to do the right thing, not just the expedient thing. We need more folks like you in this world!

We had our Airstream parked on a remote piece of property for nearly a decade. Hubby did some research online and then dug us a kind of "septic tank". He dug a deep hole in the ground, right next to the trailer, where the hoses could drop into it without having to go very far horizontally (to avoid build-up inside them).

I remember the hole seemed fairly wide, as well as deep. I would guess it was about six feet deep and 4' x 5' wide, but I'm not sure. He put "gravel" in the bottom -- mostly just a bunch of odd-sized rocks we had around the area.

Then he set up the dump hoses for both gray and black water to empty into it. He covered the top of our "septic tank" with boards and then topped it off with a bunch of dirt. That way, it never smelled. I seem to remember he added rocks or little stakes around the edge, to remind us to not walk on top.

This is how we used it: We would let our holding tanks fill, especially the gray water. When it was time to dump them, he'd dump the blackwater tank first, and then the gray water, so the gray water could "wash" any residues from the blackwater tank through the hose down into the hole.

I don't think our system was any more "polluting" than having an outhouse, really. Of course, you'd want to be sure you're well away from any water source, including ground water, so your "septic tank" drains well and that you're not polluting your drinking water, or polluting downstream. Dilution of human waste is not enough to prevent illness in others. (Would any of us want to drink someone else's "diluted" sewage? I know I wouldn't!)

We used our system for nearly a decade. It didn't cost much, didn't smell -- even though the "septic tank" was right next to the trailer -- and we had absolutely no troubles at all. Nor did we cause any problems for others, which was important to us, too.

Good luck to you! I hope whatever system you choose works out great for you. And thanks, again, for wanting to make a responsible choice! We need more people like you in this world!

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Old 05-31-2015, 12:45 PM   #16
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2015 30' International
FREDERICK , Maryland
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 250
Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
I have a piece of property we plan to "boondock" at this summer for a couple months. It will have water and electric (so not really boondocking) but we don't have sewer. Does anyone know of any eco-conscience and safe way to dump the black tank on site? There is a small stream nearby and I wouldn't want to dump directly there but if would help dilute things down...
PLEASE don't dump it in or near the stream. Not only would you be adding human waste to the riparian ecosystem, it is also most likely illegal in all states.
Please consider a dry well or the 55 gal. drum system that others suggested.

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Old 05-31-2015, 01:04 PM   #17
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2000 36' Land Yacht XC Diesel
Fresno , California
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 171
I second checking with your local authorities on dumping policies. But when it comes to black it's sorta universal. I wasn't sure which AS you have so I don't know if you have a macerator installed or not but I had one put on my AS and I LOVE IT. Camping world sells rolling portable grey/black tanks. You could always get two/three of those (all depending on how often you'd like to go and how far away the dump site is) you hook your black line from the AS into them and they have their own for when you need to dump.
They work fine without a macerator too....but if you do go that route you can use much smaller containers from then on (and the 1.5" hose is so much better than the standard 3)
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Old 05-31-2015, 01:36 PM   #18
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1978 31' Sovereign
Los Angeles , California
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More than one way

Who needs black water? have you consider a combustible toilet?
I had one in a mountain cabin - just dump the ashes!
(i was a guest so I don't recall the brand or model. sorry)
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Old 05-31-2015, 01:45 PM   #19
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1958 22' Caravanner
not shared , Nebraska
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 166
I have no black tank in my 1958 22' Caravanner. I removed the corner toilet too. I saved toilet weight, tank weight, piping weight and flushing water weigh too. Speaking of water weight , I carry lots of 1 gallon milk bottles ( white for drinkable and translucent for "other") I would never never do what I strongly suggest for fear of fellow Airstreamers' condemnation.
Perhaps a 5 gallon bucket with 3 short legs might be fashioned making the upper rim of the bucket 19" above the floor. A "poor citizen" might put an oblong lightweight padded tan toilet seat atop. A clever person might even store empty/full 1 pound propane bottles in the bottom of the bucket ( because that person refills them from a 37 pound bottle) Of course empties would have black "Sharpie" mark on the caps. What a clever storage solution that would be. I'll wager this dirty person could use the bucket lid trimmed to rest = fit above the bottles as in a false bottom. I'm certain, upon lifting the seat cover, you would see a toddler baby diaper held in place by the sticky tabs. A sealed diaper pail with padded seat would be seen close by. Oh, my goodness, that person would have two nice stools for inside or outside use. I saw such a person sometimes sitting on a bucket stool outside but he had a shoulder to ground poncho on and it was not raining. Poncho had a not too strong but familiar smell. He rose and was folding something and putting it in the shinny second stool nearby. Had a large sticker on it which read "mom's diaper pail." It was sure odd when he pulled 3 each 4 "D" cell LED lanterns out of it. I guess the lanterns were padded by a full package of toddler diapers. A bumper sticker on the window to the right of the door said "Baby On Board" I never saw the kid and it never cried. Gramp and Nanna were 71 and 84. When they were moving out I told Gramp " I think you have a water leak just center over the axle which left a wet spot on the grass/dirt. I thought to myself "I bet that old geezer has a large red funnel mounted on curbside. And I bet he urinates in it and dumps small quantities of dish water in to keep it from smelling" His trailer had large red numbers on it 9389
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Old 05-31-2015, 03:46 PM   #20
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2011 30' Classic
1972 21' Globetrotter
Duxbury , Massachusetts
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 24

Use a composting toilet. Regardless of where you are and who owns the land, do it properly or don't do it.
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Old 05-31-2015, 04:02 PM   #21
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2014 30' Classic
Princeton , Iowa
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In this day and age, I would sure be careful. I build a house in the country 5 years ago and it did not cost much for a septic tank and leach field all legal and safe.
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Old 05-31-2015, 04:35 PM   #22
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1999 34' Excella
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Hillsboro , Texas
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Made our "septic" for dog kennels 5' deep hole with gravel, bottom cut out of 55gal with 4-6" dirt on top, drum sunk in ground and 8" below top was the top of a hole where 100' perforated pipe exited and buried 1' below grade. Top had a "gutter" which the waste entered.

This supported a kennel with 11 dogs, in South Louisiana with lots of rain. No stink unless really close with nose. Lasted over 20 year still and still going when we sold the place.
Peace and Blessings..
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Old 05-31-2015, 05:50 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
I have a piece of property we plan to "boondock" at this summer for a couple months. It will have water
If the source of your water is a well make sure your septic is a good distance away from the well, or any wells for that matter. Here in NM code is 100' between the septic system and the well.
Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:06 PM   #24
2010 20' Flying Cloud
Lakeside , Montana
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fine won't be fine

Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Please take some of the advice here with a grain of salt. Do it properly. Check with other locals even the county officials and see what is exceptable in the area.
'cause somebody gonna see what you're doing and call the sheriff who's gonna fine you for violating county health code.
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:04 PM   #25
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Worse, with the EPA about to expand it's regulations via the clean water act, you could be facing serious jail time or fines in excess of $10K if you are in any violation of the EPA's regs. Won't matter if the stream is on private property or not. And won't matter if you're using a DIY cat hole or not, if it's not far enough away, or doesn't met the rules, game over, life ruined.
Family of 4 living, working & exploring the USA in our Airstream.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:26 PM   #26
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Thanks for all the advice and thoughts. I am genuinely trying to do this "right" or at least "smart." It's funny though; the Health Dept everyone cites and their regulations have a funny way of making it soooooooo much easier to do it the "wrong" way. Since this is a public forum, I'm going to leave further comments on my intentions going forward to myself. I will check applicable regulations and adhere to them.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:32 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Doc Foster View Post
PLEASE don't dump it in or near the stream. Not only would you be adding human waste to the riparian ecosystem, it is also most likely illegal in all states.

Please consider a dry well or the 55 gal. drum system that others suggested.

And I should clarify that when I say the stream would help dilute things down, I only mean that any liquid that happens to percolate that direction. I would NOT dump into the stream directly for any reason. However, the stream is formed from the runoff of a cow pasture above it.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:36 AM   #28
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Legal or not there is correct way to this non polluting. Septic systems aren't cheap, 8 and up. If you have solid wastes you need a septic tank, this traps solids, promotes bacteria that will help break down things. It also has a baffle system that traps the solids and only allows water to drain out and that goes into a drain field, usually perforated pipe in a bed with crushed stone. Legally before you do this you need a perc test that calculates how quickly or easily water will percolate away. In some cases it's not fast enough to allow a septic and you need to install a holding tank, in others it's too fast and you have to do other things. You could install a "outlaw" system that works properly and doesn't hurt or pollute but you'd have to know what you were doing and where the water table is and what sort of drainage you have. It's involved, frankly I don't care if it's legal or not just that it doesn't pollute. Local codes do vary some but be prepared.

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