Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

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Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  Richard on Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:32 pm

I have been told that it is illegal to let gray water spill onto the ground in Tennessee. I've heard arguments that if everyone in a campsite let it go on the ground it would be a yucky mess, and that it would be enough to damage the environment. Down in Alabama (where I'm from) it's not uncommon for people with septic systems to have their gray water (washing machine and kitchen sink) running to some point out in their yard. That spot always has the best grass, with the possible exception of the field lines for the septic tank. Now this may not be legal down there, but it's not an uncommon practice.

I've seen a lot of people flush out their water heaters, hoses, etc with freah water, and it doesn't seem to make any mess at all. The sun dries it up in a short time.

If you have an outdoor shower, what do you do with the gray water it creates when you use it? If you keep it off the ground, how do you manage to do it?

I generally follow the rules and dump my gray-water container in the dump station, or in a toilet, but I have had a "spill" or overflow before. How do you guys feel about the gray water disposal issue? Is it a real concern, or just another rule we must live by?
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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  abivens on Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:39 pm

That is also a common practice in the community where I live. I am not sure about the legal stuff but I can see where it may be a problem. I suppose in an area like a campground where you may have several campers everyday dumping their gray water, there could possibly be some ground water contamination. But that is just speculation.
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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  chuck on Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:07 pm

I don't think gray water really hurts anything.. but I like the "no dumping" rule.. it keeps the campsite a little cleaner for the next person.

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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  coolbreeze1 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:58 pm

I could only see gray water hurting something if it got into the ground water. I am thinking that the rules are just to keep something from happening, even though it may never happen.
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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  merrykalia on Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:19 pm

I guess I am the cause of this topic!!

I made an outdoor shower curtain and holder using PVC pipe shaped into a 36" circle and 3 eyebolts to attach to the chain to suspend it from. I have a 10' long wooden pole that we slide up under the slide-out topper. It has a cup hook on the end of it to attach the chain to it. I used 3 different shower curtains that were left over from my house to go around it. It sits about 2' from our outside shower.

This is not used to "shower" with soap and shampoo and whatever, this is a shower to rinse off sand at the beach from our bodies and clothes, mud from puddles, etc. (that's the reason for curtains - nakedness!!) I don't think of this as dumping gray water, just water that has rinsed off sand and dirt.

I think of gray water as the stuff that comes out of my sink that has soap, shampoo, grease, slime, food particles, etc. in it.

As I was telling Richard the other day, when we were at Hunting Island last summer, we were about the only travel trailer/motorhome/5'er that didn't have an outdoor shower enclosure of some kind.

At the beach, there are many places that have showers for you to wash off the sand from your body, feet, hands, as well as your chairs, boards, etc. I think my outdoor shower is on the same plane as these are.

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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  Crawford on Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:33 pm

I myself never gave gray water a problem a second throught never to old to learn new stuff.
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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  seymourbass77 on Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:46 am

When I lived in SC. I worker on Paris Island Marine Corps. base for 3 yrs. in the water and wastewater department. We dealt with the gov. on a daily basis over OSHA regulations, collection and contamination issues. I am not familiar with Tn. but without going into an extreme amount of detail I think CG in general have to follow all environmental laws for their state to be licensed.
Grey water contains about 99% of solid and dissolved solid organic material. Mother nature does a great job at filtering these organics through the ground but some take longer than other so that is where the state laws come in to look at the impact on the environment and not as much of a health issue. Got to go for now but will write more later.
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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  Richard on Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:24 pm

Donna's shower did, indeed, spark this post. It's a cool mod, and I think I want one, but I'd use soap when I used it, so I guess that's out.
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Re: Outdoor Showers and other Gray Water issues

Post  merrykalia on Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:30 pm

Richard wrote:Donna's shower did, indeed, spark this post. It's a cool mod, and I think I want one, but I'd use soap when I used it, so I guess that's out.

You can get the environmentally friendly stuff back in the camping section, which is biodegradeable,etc. Don't really know much about that stuff. I know they sell it to use in rivers and streams when backpacking.


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