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Old 09-25-2010, 12:18 PM   #1
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Question Where to fill water tanks on the road?

My wife and I are leaving for Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a week and considering where to refill our water tank during travel. We are relatively new to Airstreaming, so haven't much experience yet with longer trips, and our Sport 22 has a 20 gallon capacity.

I would like to be able to pull into someplace and fill my water tank with safe, drinkable water. I have had concerns about filling stations at some of the state parks, after seeing the very old and dated equipment at their fill stations.

Any thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom?

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Old 09-25-2010, 01:55 PM   #2
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In all the RVs I've owned I've never cooked or drank from an RV tank. Never will. I'm careful adding water but I don't trust every hose or every source. I buy drinking water as I go. I start out with a few gallons from home. Holding tank water for me is for washing and flushing the toilet.

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Old 09-25-2010, 03:25 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Hibby View Post
I would like to be able to pull into someplace and fill my water tank with safe, drinkable water. I have had concerns about filling stations at some of the state parks, after seeing the very old and dated equipment at their fill stations.

Any thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom?
Actually the state parks are probably the safest, they are a public drinking water source and have to test their water regularly. Only place I didn't like was Alum Creek Ohio State Park where the drinking supply was located at the dump station, every other place we have always seen signage that says not potable water near sewage.
You can get filters to put on hose so that water is purified before you put it in tank, and a second filter on the drinking water at the sink.
We do carry a supply from home in gallon jugs for shorter trips. We also carry imodium for emergency treatment if something goes wrong
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Old 09-25-2010, 03:39 PM   #4
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I agree with DaveFL above. I've been camping on public lands almost exclusively for five years, with only a rare RV park stay. I fill the tank using a hose that has an attacked filter. My kitchen faucet has a filter and we drink that filtered water. We've never had the slightest problem with that approach. At the same time, I know a lot of people are paranoid about the water they drink, never failing to even use bottled water at their homes. So I think it sort of comes down to how worried you are. You can probably find countless people who talk the way I do and maybe just as many who'd die before drinking water from a holding tank.

One more thing, before each trip we follow Airstream instructions and add the correct amount of bleach to the holding tank and then let that water sit for several hours followed by a fill and drain of the tank. So we start with a disinfected tank.
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Old 09-25-2010, 05:44 PM   #5
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Where to fill water tanks on the road?

In areas where many people run on cisterns for their home use, the local public water utility will usually have a fill source where municipal potable water may be purchased. The facilities are maintained with an eye toward public health so water quality shouldn't be a huge concern. The facilities that I am familiar with provide plenty of room at the fill location to maneuver a tow vehicle/trailer combination.

Enjoy your adventure!

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Old 09-25-2010, 07:00 PM   #6
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We have taken many long trips over the years, and have never run into a problem using the water tanks and finding potable water to refill the fresh water tank. Kay always does a smell and taste test of water before we fill the water tank. If it passes her smell and taste test, than we fill up. If it smells off or minerally, than we pass and go to the next stop to fill up. State parks, KOA's, private campgrounds, etc. - we've used them all, and never gotten sick. As already mentioned, some folks will never use the water tank for consumption, and others like us use it all the time. One of those personal preference things.

Just check the water before you put it into your tank and you should be fine.

Byron Center, huh? Kay’s from Spring Lake, and I’m from Grand Haven. Now Minnesotans instead of Michiganders… UP water has always been good at the state parks.

Have a great trip!

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Old 09-25-2010, 07:07 PM   #7
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We live in the U.P. of Michigan. On the island here a lot of folks take their drinking water right out of the lake. Most use a sand filter and UV light as the only treatment. We have well water that is quite good. State parks and a lot of small municipalities maintain public water sources that are safe and reliable. The one thing to look out for at these location is well water, depending on the aquifer it is coming from even though safe to drink might be quite hard and contain iron giving it an off taste and sometimes a visible color as the iron oxidizes. We fill our tank with water we know to be "good" and use it for cooking and drinking. If we are hooked to a public water supply that is unknown whether in the UP or not we will use it for washing and the toilet but use bottled water for drinking and cooking. You should not have any trouble finding good potable water in the UP. Have fun!
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:28 PM   #8
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when filling my water tank from an unknown source I try to let the water run for awhile to get the chlorinated water along in the pipe. You could always throw a slug of chlorox into the tank before you fill it - it won't take much. I have cistern at my house and always throw a bit in after a good rain. Our local municipal water company recommends 1 oz of bleach per 1500 gallons of water - I'll let you do the math.
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:28 PM   #9
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I agree with Minno. We did the Superior Circle Tour a couple weeks back. Enjoyed Copper Harbor at the end of our trip -- tho' don't expect any phone card signals there.

We don't drink from our fresh water tank either. When flushed out thoroughly we do consume the water when have an actual hookup at our campsite -- although that is uncommon since our preference is boondocking or state park or forest service sites. Many campgrounds, commercial or state park, do chlorine flushes on their water systems a couple times through the summer. This will result in some smelly, chlorine-y water but our dogs don't seem to mind. Don't mind doing dishes in this sort of water.

We will fill up a couple gallons in jugs when we do find good tasting water. ...use this for tea, coffee and the like. But I also tend to fill my fresh tank with any decent water I find. This paid off on September 5th when we pulled into White Lake Provincial Park (Ontario) -- only to find that even their chlorine treated water could not defeat the ghiardia infestation on their water source there. So ... vindicated. I've seen bad water. But no regrets about filling from good sources before I tow to the next unknown.

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Old 09-25-2010, 08:51 PM   #10
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We've filled up at Petro Truck Stops many times. Some Flying J's were RV friendly but don't know if it's still true now that Pilot has bought them out. If you fill up on gas, water & dump are free at most locations. Walk in & talk to the manager before pumping & ask. Note: not all Petro's have dump facilities. With an 80 gal fuel tank, we were able to use & abuse this by only buying 25-30 gallons at a time whe we 1st started full timing on the road. Petro Truck Stops - Petro Location Search - Iron Skillet, Petro:Lube, Travel Stores, Mobil Delvac, Truck Tires, PM Services, Diesel, CAT Scales, Blue Beacon Truck Washes

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Old 09-26-2010, 05:15 AM   #11
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Good places to get fresh water: national, state, and county parks, RV parks, truck stops, campgrounds (if they offer it), and ranger stations.
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:37 PM   #12
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Thanks to all of you! Sorry I haven't posted but I did have a chance to read most of the replies before we set out on our trip.

We never did have to fill on the road, as we had a full 20 gallon tank when we left home and took our six aquatainers (7 gal. each) for another 42 gallons. Ended up only using three aquatainers! Maybe we should have showered more frequently.

I ordered a 16 oz. bottle of Purogene from Bay-Tec, and it takes one millileter per gallon of water for purification.

My wife and I do make coffee from our onboard tank, but I don't suppose we're consuming much of it otherwise.

Great trip, with many more ahead of us!
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:39 PM   #13
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:40 AM   #14
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We sanitize our fresh water tank at the beginning of every season, use a filter when filling from fresh water sources and have had no problem in 8+ years of RV'ing. The filter normalizes the taste of water from various sources, we replace it every few months and hook up to fresh water only when the holding tank is empty. It seems to be common sense not to let it sit in there for any protracted period.

There are lots of unexciting but inexpensive city/municipal campgrounds in the UP, along the shores we so love , and we have never had problems using their water as described above.

Travel safe,


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