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Choosing a Grey Water Waste Tote


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I recently posted on a thread about storage boxes that fit into the basket on the Ollie tongue. One photo showed a grey water waste tote that I sometimes carry on top of the storage tote. I got a PM from @stlipa asking what kind of tote I bought, and why I chose that one. I decided to post my answer here on the forum. 

I started researching totes and discovered that they come in various sizes, 6 gallon, 10 gallon, 11 gallon, 12 gallon, 15 gallon, 18 gallon. I just looked on Amazon and I even find 25 gallon and 38 gallon models. One gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs, so you can do the math. The smallest ones have no wheels, some have two wheels, and the larger ones have four wheels. 

The larger models allow you to off-load more grey water at any one time, but the weight increases proportionally. The higher volume models are also proportionally larger in their dimensions, taking up more room in the tow vehicle. 

I did not want to carry the tote in my tow vehicle, an SUV, and I wanted to get a tote model that would conveniently fit into the storage basket. I made a list of all the models, with their volume, the weight when full of water, and the length, width and depth dimensions for each. I decided on the 12 gallon Thetford 40505 SmartTote, which I purchased a local RV supply store. Amazon has it for $79. 

I chose the 12 gallon Thetford 40505 SmartTote primarily because it would conveniently fit into the Ollie storage basket along with three of these five-gallon water jugs. BTW, the jugs have “Property of US Government” stamped into them. 

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As you can see from these photos, the waste tote and the three water jugs all fit into the storage basket. When we are boondocking, we can go and get 15 gallons of fresh water, and we can offload up to 12 gallons of grey water. I leave the water jugs at home when we are going to a campground with water hookups, and put the yellow storage box and the tote on the tongue as shown in the earlier post

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I had wanted to get the largest tote that could fit in the basket, but I soon learned that bigger is not always better. A better aphorism is that bigger is always heavier! My 12 gallon tote weighs 100 lbs when full. While I can walk it short distances when full on its two wheels, the weight becomes prohibitive if going a long distance. Imagine wheeling a 100 pound suitcase through an airport! My guess is that the larger totes with four wheels are easier to pull by hand. 

I do find that I can pull the tote fairly easily when it is 2/3 full (approx. 65 lbs), so I will often make two trips with 6-8 gallons each to dump the grey water, rather than one trip with 12 gallons. 

I bought one of the recommended accessories, a tow strap, that allows me attach the tote to the ball hitch on the tow vehicle. I have done that when the dump is more distant, with the tote filled to capacity, and it works fine. Just drive slowly. But if possible I prefer walking the tote over. 

At one campground the dump was too far for me to feel comfortable pulling the tote behind the car, and I was able to heft the partially filled tote (65 lbs?) into the tow vehicle. A larger tote would not be of greater benefit in this situation. 

A couple of other points for those considering getting a waste tote. The stuff I read online suggested getting hoses and connectors. (Some of the larger four wheeled totes have hoses that store in a built-in compartment.) I got a five foot sewer hose, and a sewer fitting. With these, it is easy to dump my grey water into a standard sewer fitting, moving the tote from horizontal to vertical and letting gravity do the rest. 

I later discovered that some campgrounds have a different type grey water disposal sites, and my sewer connection hose did not work well. These disposal sites look like they are designed for campers to pour in a dishpan of soapy water; these can be elevated off the ground, and thus difficult to lift a heavy tote. To circumvent this problem I bought a bayonet hook waste cap with a garden hose thread connector, and I got a short length of garden hose with the female end intact. Starting with the tote in a horizontal position, I open the air entry valve, hold the hose end above the sink for grey water, and then raise the tote into a vertical position. Water pressure forces the grey water though the hose into the waste water receptacle. When the tote is mostly empty, I can lift it off the ground and get the remaining water to drain out. 

I use this tote only for grey water. No black water in the tote for this camper!

Finally, the pictures of the tote and the three five gallon water jugs in the Oliver basket were taken from other pictures, below. One is a picture of Ollie at Devil’s Tower, and the other is Ollie in front of a rainbow in South Dakota. 

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David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

2016 Oliver Elite II  Hull 164    |    2017 Audi Q7 tow vehicle. 

Travel and Photography Blog: http://davidstravels.net

 

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Your photos are beautiful,  as always. And I  appreciate your thoughtful comments on your experiences. 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Thanks for sharing this!

I've wondered what these were when I saw people using them at David Crocket State park on our first Ollie trip. This seems like a super smart way to dump grey water for us, as we do not have a black tank. Towing the trailer to the dump site would be highly inconvenient, so tugging around a rolling 100lb water tank doesnt seem all that bad.

I know this may be looked down upon but does anyone drain their grey water tank into the trees or nearby shrubbery if no-one is looking? 👀

And how about while boondocking? Do you just make sure to NOT fill the grey water tank up, or do you wheel this off and dump somewhere safe?
 

2021 Oliver Legacy Elite II - Twin Bed - Hull 762 | 2018 F150 3.5L Ecoboost V6 w/ Max Tow package

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I have used a 5 gallon poly gas can for grey water occasionally and use it for our LEII when we were generating too much grey water before we can dump at the dump station.  I attached the hose adapter to the end of the sewer hose and dedicated a hose to use.  This worked well, but I ran into some vacuum issues so I recently used a y adapter and added an air vent hose that I can elevate an open and speed the entire process.  We use this when we can drain completely or have an extended stay.  I dedicate the gear for this purpose and store in the bumper.  

David Caswell and Paula Saltmarsh


Hull 509 "The Swallow"

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21 minutes ago, jordanv said:

Thanks for sharing this!

I've wondered what these were when I saw people using them at David Crocket State park on our first Ollie trip. This seems like a super smart way to dump grey water for us, as we do not have a black tank. Towing the trailer to the dump site would be highly inconvenient, so tugging around a rolling 100lb water tank doesnt seem all that bad.

I know this may be looked down upon but does anyone drain their grey water tank into the trees or nearby shrubbery if no-one is looking? 👀

That depends on where you are camping. In the arid west, it's perfectly ok in many places, as long as you're dumping only "clean" grey, away from the site.

In many places in the east, this could garner a heavy fine. 

Best to ask and know, ahead if time. 

Also, scrape and wipe dishes before washing, so you're not emptying food particles,  wherever. Better for your tank drainage, better for everyone. 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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I'd like to add to DavidS' comments - which are spot on - in that even if there are no "regular" dumpsites available, with the smaller tote you can always simply use a regular toilet.  Of course this assumes that you can lift the tote and that is just another reason to go small.🙂

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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When you conserve fresh water, you also limit grey water . Overland started a great thread on limiting freshwater some time back. There are others on here, too.

I'd also suggest, if you know you have more time than tankage, that you think about other measures. Think more like a tent camper to extend capabilities. 

For example, I  routinely wash dishes only once a day, outside, using dish pans and about a quart of water. Shower at campground facilities, if they exist, or shower outside. Brush teeth and wash your face in the morning outside. (It keeps the bathroom cleaner, too.)

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Another thing about dumping on the ground. Even with the cleanest grey water after a couple of days grey water takes on a smell of its own.  If its bad enough you and everyone around you will know you dumped on the ground.  As stated the fines are large . 

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42 minutes ago, Landrover said:

Another thing about dumping on the ground. Even with the cleanest grey water after a couple of days grey water takes on a smell of its own.  If its bad enough you and everyone around you will know you dumped on the ground.  As stated the fines are large . 

Agreed. 

Use the tent camper sink for dishwater, if one is available. 

Even if grey water dumping is allowed, running a longer hose, away from your campsite and your neighbors,  is the right thing to do.

I've personally seen some disgusting trails left behind at campsites where unknowing, or uncaring, campers let it go, probably just before they left. 

Stinky, attracts vermin and/or bears, and totally unnecessary. (Same type who  leave unburned or unburnable trash in campfire rings, as well. 😒)

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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