Fill-up and dump stations

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blsmith25

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Jul 5, 2006
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70
Location
Santa Clara, CA
Hi,

I will be doing a lot of dry camping/parking lot camping in the San Jose California area.
Where do people usually go to get water fill-ups and dump stations? Do you have to go to campgrounds to do this or are there other places? I am full-timing so don't have a home base to fill up at.
Is it free - water anyways?  I think you need to pay to dump at a dump station.
Otherwise, I think it may be relatively easy to find diesel and propane stations for those fill-ups?

Some thoughts and ideas on what other full-timers do for these needs and in particular this location as I'm having trouble finding them...
I'd like to prepare a list of places to go for water fill-ups, dump stations, propane locations and diesel locations around the Santa Clara Valley area.

Thanks,
B.L>
 

Tom

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I used to use a dump station at the Chevron gas station on Stevens Creek Blvd, not far from Lawrence Expressway. (The dump was in the rear of their lot.) They used to charge me $3 to dump. That was a long time ago and I don't know if they still have a dump station there. They also have/had propane there, next to the dump station.

Most campgrounds will let you dump for a fee (probably $5) and fill up with water and will usually have propane.

Where in the valley are you camping? Might be able to come up with somewhere closer to you.

One caveat - I'd be careful about using any water hose at a dump station - they're often used by folks to rinse their black tank. Also, they're sometimes labelled as "non potable", so you shouldn't put that water in your fresh water tank.
 

blsmith25

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Jul 5, 2006
Posts
70
Location
Santa Clara, CA
I wouldn't use the water located at a dump station, but where can someone go and hook up to a potable water supply and fill up their tank?
Do gas stations have a tap that you can connect a hose to and fill up? Would it be good water for the fresh water tank?
There doesn't seem to be a lot of campgrounds around, but there's a fair number of mobile home parks it seems.
I'm not sure if these kind of parks would have those facilities since most of the units would be stationary.

B.L>
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
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Davison Michigan
There are quite a few places you can dump,  For a short list nation wide visit www.flyingj.com and download their store locatoins map, it shows which ones have dumps and which do not

Also, when you visit a Flying J get their RV Frequent Fueler card, (Discounts on gas)  No charge for card by the way

I have a URL here Dump Stations

I do note that when I tried to use the City of Detroit free dump station it appears the folks at the office downtown admit it's there and know what the policies are, but security at the plant where it's located never got the memo (I'm serious here)

And, as others have said, Most parks, even dry parks will have a dump station somewhere.  For example when I stay in Quartzsite next year there is a dump station on BLM land across the road from where we park, and there is a commericial dump station (RV Pit Stop) north of the main intersection in town a bit  Prices are reasonable, I'd spend more on gas sitting at idle in line if I dumped at the free dump.

As for fresh water fill...  Most dump stations have two hoses... One at the actuall dump site, is "non potable water" and is for rinsing out your tanks and hoses only

The other one will be some distance (I think there is a minimum distance but don't know what it is) and is marked "Poatable water" and is not to be used as above.

in the case of the RV Pit Stop that's a good 20 yards away and filtered too boot
 

NWRVer

Member
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Jul 12, 2006
Posts
12
In Washington, many (not all) rest stops have RV dumps.  They're free.  Some marina's are the same and accomidate RVs. When traveling I tend to fill up at places where they note that they have an RV dump.  Even if I'm not very full I'll usually dump just in case. 

For fresh water, I have my own water hose just for that.  Many times at gas stations, truck stops, resturants, or other businesses, even Wally World, I can usually talk them into letting me use their water off the building.  The water off the building is connected to the main interior water, which ususally is clean drinking water (pending where you are, of course).  I do double check by running the water before I hook up the hose.  I have never paid for water this way, but have been refused to get water.

Many people say to wait until you get to your destination before you get water, thus not carring the weight.  But, I'd rather know that I have good water on board rather than chancing what you might get at the camp ground or other places.  I have never had to dump ala ditch, but have heard a few folks say that they were just too full and couldn't find a dump station.  Plan ahead, that's just not an acceptable excuse for me.
 

Tom

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If you drive the MH to work, I'd bet there are water spigots located around the perimeter of the building.

I really 't know if gas stations have a source of potable water specifically for RVers, but I'd bet they have spigots you could use. Your nearest Flying J is going to be in Lodi (north of Stockton) -  a long way to go from the SC valley.

Haven't been to any mobile home parks but, since some of them allow RVers, one would think they'd have a dump station and a source of potable water.
 

woodartist

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Jun 23, 2006
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Wandering the Old West
A little risky, but we have gotten water from small town quick stops.. We usually ask if the outside connection is the same water they use for coffee. We have never been refused....although taste the coffee first ;D
 

blsmith25

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Jul 5, 2006
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Location
Santa Clara, CA
Thanks for all the ideas! Keep them coming as I can certainly use them!
I like that website you pointed me to, John. I've found another couple of places close by and got an idea about inquiring at the RV storage places nearby and maybe even taking a chance at the mobile home parks. There seems to be enough of those around (well, advertisements anyways) that maybe they would provide some services independent of storage every once in awhile.
I would like to make a list of ones close by so I'm not having to go to the same one all the time. Do some rotation sort of thing.

About dumping in a ditch: I would never dump the black water like that, but if the grey water tank gets full before the black water tank is 2/3 full, is that ok to dump in a ditch or down a sewer? I'm not sure yet how that would work, but I'm thinking the grey water tank might fill up quicker than the black water one, so it may require a dump or two of that before the black needs dumping?

Is it better to call around and inquire about their dumping/filling arrangements or show up in person there requesting if they have it?

B.L>
 

Shayne

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Jan 22, 2006
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4,324
Personally I would never dump even gray water in an inappropriate place and please don't dump near me.
 

roarin

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Aug 2, 2006
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After reading your posts BL, here are some answers to your questions.  Hopefully they will help you find a proper way of disposing of your wastewater.  Cities in the S. F. Bay Area are designed with two drainage systems, a storm drain system and a sewer system.  Storm drains go directly to waterways and eventually the bay.  The drains you see in the street or in parking lots are storm drains. Since the storm drains are not connected to any treatment system the pollutants go directly to the environment.  Both grey water and black water by definition are considered wastewater.  The law requires that wastewater must be disposed of into an approved sewer system.  The sewer is only accessible through building drains or cleanouts designed for this use.  It is virtually impossible to find any drain outside a building that goes to the sewer except for places like dump stations.  Building and health codes require the sewer system to be sealed.  That is why you will not find an open drain that leads to the sewer.  In regards to obtaining fresh water, in the City almost any faucet will be connected to the City water supply.  It would be very unusual to find a faucet at a building that was not connected to the same water supply that services the rest of the building.  About the only time you would have to be concerned with a freshwater faucet not providing acceptable water would be if it was connected to a private well.  You probably wouldn?t find this within the City limits but it is common in rural areas.  I hope this information helps you find a solution to managing your RV water system.
 

Carl L

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About dumping in a ditch: I would never dump the black water like that, but if the grey water tank gets full before the black water tank is 2/3 full, is that ok to dump in a ditch or down a sewer? I'm not sure yet how that would work, but I'm thinking the grey water tank might fill up quicker than the black water one, so it may require a dump or two of that before the black needs dumping?

You open that gray water tank, except when hooked directly to a approved sanitary sewage disposal system, and you are going to get in the way of a really heavy duty fine, and your neighbors are going to cheerfully rat you out to the cops.? ?In fact, you can get a ticket just for having the cap off your drain pipe while on a street.

You could simplify your life no end if you would just find yourself an inexpensive commercial campground and use their water and dump facilities on a monthly basis.? Most towns and cities in California, where I live, have outlawed street camping
 

Ron

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Home is where we park it
blsmith25 said:
About dumping in a ditch: I would never dump the black water like that, but if the grey water tank gets full before the black water tank is 2/3 full, is that ok to dump in a ditch or down a sewer? I'm not sure yet how that would work, but I'm thinking the grey water tank might fill up quicker than the black water one, so it may require a dump or two of that before the black needs dumping?

B.L>

Anybody caught dumping either tank in other than an approved dump facility is just asking for trouble and when found out would not be welcome among the RVing community.  Heavy fines are pretty much a sure thing should one get observed dumping where they shouldn't.  Best to just use approved dump facilities.

 

Lou Schneider

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Find out where San Jose, Santa Clara or any other city in your area has their sewage treatment plant.  There will often be a place near the entrance where you can dump your tanks.

Also check with construction companies, porta-potty rental places, etc.  They have to dispose of their effluent somewhere, and they might let you share the facility.

Or you could just plan on checking into a commercial campground once a week or so.
 

blsmith25

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Jul 5, 2006
Posts
70
Location
Santa Clara, CA
Ok. All excellent advice and information and a few more ideas on where to check around. Checking in at a campground every now and then was on my list if I couldn't find an appropriate place to dispose of stuff. I just didn't want to have that as my only choice and it seems that it's certainly not.

I will watch out for the drains in the streets. I see people putting all kinds of stuff in the street to go down those drains and now that you say they go directly into the Bay, is it any wonder our water gets polluted? People wash their vehicles with soap, wash other things with whatever chemical soaps and so forth, chemicals on lawns, etc. and it all is going down those street drains. If it's not treated, all that stuff is going directly into the Bay. Not good at all.  You won't see me contributing to that mess.

Just so people know, this is part of my research of taking care of things before they happen or are needed. I just want to be prepared well before I need it and know the proper way of doing things. As NWRVer said, there's not an acceptable excuse. With all these ideas and discussions, I'm feeling better about the possibilities and the freqency with which I'd really be needing them. I don't think it's so bad as what I'm thinking. Planning ahead is the key.

Another question - one person and maybe an occasional guest having a 12US gal /45L black water tank and a 24Gal/ 91L grey water tank, how often might I expect to be needing to empty them? I'm thinking maybe once a month as a rough estimate? Shouldn't be too bad to have a couple of places outside of a campground facility or arrange to stay somewhere for a night once a month.

Thanks,
B.L>
 

Carl L

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west Los Angeles
Another question - one person and maybe an occasional guest having a 12US gal /45L black water tank and a 24Gal/ 91L grey water tank, how often might I expect to be needing to empty them? I'm thinking maybe once a month as a rough estimate? Shouldn't be too bad to have a couple of places outside of a campground facility or arrange to stay somewhere for a night once a month.

12 gallons!  ::) One person?  3, maybe 4, days.  You should start with a gallon or two of water in the tank to prevent crud building up in the pipes.

Gray tank of 24 gallons should hold for about the same if you are showering in the trailer.
 

Shayne

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Jan 22, 2006
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4,324
I would suggest you invest in a couple of Tote Alongs and a couple of water containers.  Your capacities are almost nonavailable. 
 

blsmith25

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Jul 5, 2006
Posts
70
Location
Santa Clara, CA
Oh boy!  :eek:  Was I off or what???
I won't be doing showers in there as I have access to outside bathrooms 95+% of the time.
I work during the day, so my usage would be mostly evening and weekends... I guess mostly weekends since the evenings I either stay at work or go dancing, both facilities having bathroom access.
So I know I will get more than 3 or 4 days out of it, but maybe my month was too optimistic...?  :-\
I guess I'll just have to wait and see how it goes and how much I'll be using that. I'm anticipating more use of the kitchen sink for washing dishes, floors, general clean-up, etc. So maybe it's better to use the kitchen sink more than the bathroom sink since that tank is larger, leaving more time for both to fill so they empty correctly.
So, the next thing is, if I'm only using the bathroom periodically during the weekends, do I need to take any special precautions or follow a special procedure? What do I need to put in the holding tank?
 

blsmith25

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Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Posts
70
Location
Santa Clara, CA
Al, thanks for the suggestions.

I used some of the resources on dump stations that I was pointed to above and am in the process of combining and making one list of dump stations in California that I can take on the road.
I don't go far, but it's good to have handy.
Anyways, to give a bit of an update, I figured out that I can go 2 weeks on normal usage before I need to dump.
I found a place on one of the lists in Fremont that is close by where I can go and contribute for only $3. Can't beat that. And the water is good also!
I'm working on establishing a procedure as I'm not a professional dumper yet  :-\ .
Also, just filled up my propane tank for the first time yesterday. Almost 6 weeks on a 7 gal tank running the fridge fulltime and the stove only a few times. Cost me $20 for a fillup.
I learned that when the indicator says empty, it means it's really actually empty.  :eek:  :D

B.L>
 
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