Winnebago Solis Pocket filling up with water at park

How Do You Find Water When You Aren't at a Campground?
Tips for finding reliable sources for potable water and filling your tanks.
By: Nick Riebe

Winnebago Solis Pocket filling up with water at park

How do I find water when I’m not in a campground? This is a question I get a lot. One might think water is easy to find and, in general, that is correct. However, I have found myself in certain situations where finding potable water, and then filling my onboard tank with said water, were two different obstacles. Let me explain …

In modern day America, potable water is in every home, business, campground, visitor center, etc. Thus, filling water bottles and/or containers is no big deal. The issue comes when you need to fill the tank(s) in your RV! 

First, let me define a few terms. Potable water is water that is safe to drink. Non-potable water is water that is NOT safe to drink, and you should never fill your onboard tank(s) with it. It is fine for rinsing your tanks and cleaning your dump hose, but that’s about it. 

Finding Reliable Sources for Potable Water for Your RV

I have found a few very reliable sources for potable water when I travel, and they have never let me down. Various truck stops, rest areas, and visitor centers usually have an outdoor spigot of some kind that provides potable water. 

Solis Pocket filling up with potable water at dump station

If you are unsure if you can use it, or if it’s potable, remember Rule #1 - Always ask before taking the water, and always ask if it is potable (drinkable). This is a very important two-part question! I have been told “Sure, you can use all that water you want, just don’t drink it.” Well, that does me no good. 

As well, you can’t always trust that the spigot head color means anything. I’ve only ever seen a few colors: red, blue, or green. One would think blue or green means safe, and that red does not. Well, in my experience, none of the colors has meant potable or not. Always ask! And if no one is around to ask, best practice is not to guess. Move along and find another source. Cryptosporidium and Giardia are a real danger, and you don’t want to get sick! 

What You Need to Fill Your RV Water Tank(s)

Along with making sure the water is safe to drink, there is certain equipment you will need in order to fill your tank(s). In no particular order, here is a short list of what I carry onboard:

  • Water filter (Blue Camco)
  • Pressure Regulator (Brass or Plastic)
  • Elbow fitting(s) 
  • 25’ hose (Zero-G brand)
  • On/off adapter(s)
  • Water bandit (rubber adapter that turns a spigot with no threads, into one with threads)
  • Water spigot tool (four-way tool that allows spigots with the valve removed to be operated)
Water gear for filling tank

NOTE: There is a certain order in which I connect these devices to ensure I’m not going to further contaminate or damage my water system (including the hose). The way you connect your setup may be different, but I’ve found this works best for me. 

First, is the pressure regulator, connected to the filter, connected to the hose, connected to an on/off adapter, connected to an elbow, connected to my RV. This ensures the water pressure from the spigot is reduced first, then flows into my filter, then the hose, then to the on/off adapter so I can control the flow of water, then the RV. 

But there are times when I’m in a hurry, or just lazy, and only use the hose… I’m not perfect. The Water Bandit, and spigot tool are invaluable tools that I have used a few times. I monitor my onboard water level closely, and if I find myself at a location with an outdoor spigot that can only be operated by a tool, I have them! 

Water bandit tool

The morale of the story when it comes to finding water is: Always abide by Rule #1 - ask before taking water, and always ask if it is safe to drink. Potable water is basically everywhere, and in my opinion, no one should ever be denied this basic necessity of life. 

Comments

User commented on April 24, 2022 10:47 AM
I always carry a half gallon of about 10 to 1 diluted bleach.. I pour it over any spigot before using it.. Pour a little bit in the hose too.. I’ve see folks turn on a spigot an Rover takes a big drink.. We’re not crazy about dog slobber in our fresh water tank😩
User commented on April 24, 2022 1:45 PM
Great tips. When using the "Water Bandit" it may help to secure the rubber side with a hose clamp. It may blow off under pressure.
User commented on April 24, 2022 6:22 PM
I like to place the water filter in front of the regulator. The filter will in itself reduce the water flow then the Regulator will then insure that your pressure is within bounds.
User commented on April 24, 2022 10:06 PM
“How do you find water ?” This does not answer the question
User commented on April 25, 2022 10:16 AM
I would concur with what was said in the article with a couple of additions after years of filling my water tank from other than my home faucet. First, just after the pressure regulator I have a short piece of hose. The one you usually get when you purchase the blue bullet style water filter. It allows the filter to be more flexible in connecting to the faucet, particularly if it's close to the ground. Second, I use two pressure regulators. You never know when the pressure regulator is going to stop working. Over the years I've had two hoses blow up, so now I place the pressure regulators first and last in the line up. And third, I always use a drinking water freshener every time I add water to my water tank.