Thursday Thoughts – May 19, 2022 Edition: Living Without Running Water

Several people have commented lately – the last few months – about how we live without running water. So I THOUGHT on this Thursday I would talk about that. Nothing deep or soul-searching today! But first, a little background, in brief.

The motorhome in which we live we bought for travel as a replacement for our first motorhome. (We’ve lived in an RV since 2015.) And we traveled quite a bit in it. Then in the fall of 2019 we learned of some large lots for lease near the middle of Michigan. We checked into it, met with the owner, was shown 2 lots, and grabbed them both. That is another story…

Anyway as we were traveling we were connected to “city water”, which means when we’re parked in a campground we have water connected that runs into the RV when we turn on a faucet. Just like in a city. At some point, however, a leak or problem of some sort developed, I don’t recall what it was, but once parked on our first leased lot, even though there was a connection to the well on the lot, we couldn’t use it. So we started bringing in gallons of water from the well…and in the winter, from the store. 15 gallons every week.

With our electric kettle we were able to heat water for washing dishes, or ourselves. We quickly learned that a sinkful of sudsy water, using no-rinse body wash, made for an excellent bath: first a good head-to-toe scrub with a washcloth, then a towl-drying, and in 10 minutes we were just as clean as if we had a shower. And though we still do that, we also can use disposable washcloths that come preloaded with the no-rinse solution and leave our skin soft and fresh. Another showering technique is a spray bottle with no-rinse solution made up which we can spray on ourselves, then dry. (I tend to mix them up on different days, figuring if I miss a spot with one, it will get caught with another!)

For dishes we spritz them off with a bottle of vinegar and water, wiping them down with paper towels to keep the dish water as clean as we can. Then we heat up the water and mix it with the detergent in one bowl, and just hot water in another, for washing and rinsing. Since we are connected to a septic system discarding our gray water isn’t a problem.

For laundry we use the laundromat in the winter. When the weather gets warm enough, however, we have a 2-room shower tent and the first room houses my fun little washing machine. It does a fantastic job, though the loads are small: 7 t-shirts, or 3 pair of long pants, or 4 bath towels in size. But the clothes come out clean and nearly dry before we hang them up (indoors or out, depending on the weather). I use a very expensive but environmentally friendly detergent because there have been times I’ve had to discharge the water into the woods. But this year Pete moved the tent and my washer right next to the septic opening so that I could pour it down there. We fill it with the hose which is connected directly to the well. If I have a load that requires warm water, I do that one first after leaving a full hose in the sun for a while.

In the warmer weather we use our toilets normally, with the exception that (a) RV toilets aren’t like house toilets, and (b) we have to keep water in the bathroom with which to flush everything into the septic system. In the winter it is problematic because of the lines and valves freezing, in spite of heat tape and running a heater under the RV. So last winter we created a composting system that we used; it was absolutely no problem, required no water, and had no smells. There is a ton of information about how these can be managed online so I won’t “waste” (get it?) your time here with all of that.

Late last summer we purchased a ProOne water filtration system. Even in the winter, on sunnier days, we caught the melting snow that was running off from the tarp that covers our motorhome (protects the roof, helps keep us warmer) and ran it through there for cooking, drinking, and cleaning! We can take water out of the river – did I mention we live on a large, fast-moving river? – and use that as well, after treating it! This filter is a game changer, and has a spigot so it’s kinda like running water to use. Though filling water jugs when we are at the supermarket anyway isn’t a big deal, they ARE heavy, and hauling them back into the house a dozen or more at a time…well, we’re getting too old for that! Once the weather got warm enough we started bringing in bottles of well water (which doesn’t look, smell, or taste like anything I want to drink!) and running it through the ProOne into clean drinking water bottles for drinking, cooking, and dishes. Easy stuff!

While we could spend the money to get the water system repaired in our motorhome, we manage just fine. It feels totally normal to do what we’re doing – especially since we got the ProOne! In addition, this RV is not suitable for us anymore, since we decided to stay parked and have been using our travel trailer for traveling instead. It is also old, and has quite a few issues: the roof needs work, the floors need work, the generator needs work, the windows need resealing, etc. The cost of all that would be a nice down payment on a newer, more suitable (ie, no wasted space for an engine/dashboard/front driving area) unit. So we are keeping our eyes open…

In the meantime though, living without running water these last couple of years has been fine. Carrying water from the store has been kind of a pain but we managed…having the ProOne has all-but-resolved that though! We don’t really miss running water, and it hasn’t been a hardship. Everything can be done with the right attitude and a good plan!


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