Finding water for your fresh water tank should not be a hassle or worry while living and traveling nomadically in your skoolie.
This blog post will address where to find fresh water, how to fill your fresh water tank, and some tips on how to keep your fresh water tank clean and always ready to serve you.
Plan Ahead of Where to Find Water For Your Fresh Water Tank
One of the most important and best lessons we have learned while living and traveling nomadically so far is to plan on where to get your next full tank of fresh water.
It is a very hollow feeling when you go to fill up a pot of water to boil some pasta or vegetables and your faucet starts to spit and sputter.
Running out of water is not that big of a deal, as long as you have a plan and know where you can immediately go to refill your tank.
Whatever method you use to plan for obtaining fresh water, be sure to be familiar enough with the process and locations so it isn’t a stressful process.
Best Places to Get Fresh Drinking Water on the Road For Your Fresh Water Tank
Where do you find water while traveling nomadically? Do you have a preference for where you get your water from?
When we started traveling back in 2019, we had to learn the hard way about locating and filling our fresh water tank. We can remember quite vividly the empty-gut feeling of running out of water without a plan to refill.
City/County and State Parks
City, county, and state parks are another great and reliable source for fresh water tank refills. There is typically a fee for the day or overnight camping, but if you are looking for a day trip or overnight stay anyway, then having the ability to fill your fresh water tank is a bonus.
Water is mentioned in the Christian bible a total of 722 times. There are at least 28 bible verses that reference offering others water.
Not just the Christian church, but Synagogues, Jehova witnesses temples, or any other organized religious houses of worship should be more than willing to allow you access to a water spigot.
Giving is, after all, the underlying theme of the Christian faith. So, why not ask a local church if they would provide you with some living water to quench your thirst.
When stopping at a Flying J, Pilot, or TSA truck stop along the highway, the diesel pumps for big rigs typically have a fresh water hose available at the pumps.
Always be courteous and ask permission to use from the store attendant.
Dispersed and BLM National Park Ranger Stations
While camping on dispersed or BLM, (Bureau of Land Management) land, there will be a Ranger station nearby that will almost always have a fresh water spigot available for campers and hikers.
US National Forest Camp Ground
While camping and staying in a National Forest campground, most of them have a fresh water well with a pump near the dump station. Some may even have camping-site water spigots.
If you can not locate a fresh water spigot, check with the visitor’s center or find a Forest Ranger and inquire.
Another popular local business that has a reputation for allowing you fresh water to top off your tanks is gas stations. Not so much the local 7-11 or Kwik Mart, but a genuine gas or service station.
Of course, it always helps if you ask kindly and especially if you purchase fuel or spend some money on a product they sell.
Auto Parts Stores
Auto stores are known to be willing to offer fresh water from the spigot outside of their stores. Most do have a fresh potable or city water spigot. Maybe go inside and purchase an item and ask nicely.
If you are a member of the Moose Lodge or similar fraternal organizations, this is a good source for not only fresh water but a safe place to park overnight.
Always contact the local chapter ahead of time before just showing up.
Businesses you Patron
If you are in an area for a few days and have established a recognizable relationship with a local business, it may not be inappropriate to ask permission or even offer a patronage fee to top off your water tanks.
You may be pleasantly surprised how willing someone would be to offer you some fresh water for patronizing their business after a few days or trips to their store or establishment.
U Haul is not just a great business for moving and renting trucks and car dollies. It’s also a great place to refill your propane and top off your water tanks as well.
If you locate a U Haul location that also fills propane, it may be worth your while to ask if you can top off your water tank while they are refilling your propane tank.
Chances are, the person filling your propane will not care and give permission.
Cabellas has always had a reputation for being RV-friendly. This, of course, includes skoolies, vans, car-campers, and box trucks. Most offer free overnight parking, dump station, and free potable water refills.
Mind you, they are likely to charge a minimal dump fee, but the water is usually free.
If you have a Good Sam’s membership, then you also enjoy discounts and special privileges at all Camping Worlds. With a membership, getting your fresh water tanks topped off is just a matter of asking the manager or assistant manager on duty.
Self Service Water Refill Stations (Publix, Kroger, Winn Dixie)
If you are in a real pinch and not having any luck with some of the other options we have mentioned, in most grocery stores like Kroger, Publix, Winn Dixie, or Thom Thumb, you can fill up a gallon or even 5-gallon containers with fresh water.
Of course, you will have to pay for this water, but you can be assured of knowing it is clean and safe drinking water.
Also, you will need a funnel or something that will enable you to pour into your gravity-fed water inlet to get into your fresh water tank.
VFW locations can be a skoolie’s best friend. If you have ever served in the armed forces or even someone in your family, then do not hesitate to reach out to a local VFW chapter and inquire if they would be willing to allow you some fresh water.
These are non-profit organizations, so do not hesitate to offer a pledge or donation for their local chapter either.
These are also a great op-tin for overnight parking if traveling through an area.
Boondockers Welcome/Harvest Hosts
If you happen to be a member of Harvest Host, you now also have a membership to Boondockers Welcome, as the two companies have merged.
If you are staying at a Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Host location, then you should be welcomed to top off your fresh water tanks, especially if you have spent money patronizing the business.
Offering a small amount of money for the water is always a good idea to sweeten their response.
Friends or Family Residence
Friends and family really should be a no-brainer. If you are in an area where you have an opportunity to visit friends and or family, then why wouldn’t you ask them to allow you to top off your fresh water.
Now, keep in mind, social grace and manners apply here. Filling up a 100-gallon water tank without offering them a little money is just rude. They are likely to refuse your offer of money, but it is nice to at least offer.
Also, by offering to compensate them for a lot of water, chances are they would be willing to let you do it again the next time you are in their area.
Skoolie Homestead Communities
One of our favorite spots to stop over for a night or two while traveling is Skoolie Homestead Communities. Our favorite one is in Jesup, Georgia. The Skoolie Homestead Community, operated by Bret and Renee Niehaus is a very warm and welcoming place to stop over.
Plenty of clear Georgia spring well water is available to top your tanks off.
Of course, as always, be sure to ask before just hooking up and filling up. As mentioned several times before, always offer to compensate for the water you are taking on. They may not always accept, but remembers what your momma taught you and use manners.
Rest Stops That have A Dog Park
Lots of rest stops that have a self-contained dog park or dog run often have a fresh water spigot for thirsty pups playing or running in the fenced-in area.
If you have a hose long enough and have been given permission by someone who may be working at facilitating the rest area, then fill it up.
Buc-ees almost always have a fenced-in dog park area. Besides being one of the best, if not the best, Buc-ees is a must-stop when traveling through Texas or the Southeast.
If you have ever been to a Buc-ees, then you know what we are talking about!
Garden Center at Walmart, Home Depot, or Lowes
All Walmart Garden Centers, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, or other stores like them have water hoses in their garden centers. Ask the on-duty store manager if you can top off your tanks or get a few gallons of water for your RV or Skoolie.
Be sure to let them know how much money you have spent on hardware, tools, insulation, lumber, and everything else you have purchased to build your skoolie. You may even get a smile out of them.
RV and Camping Apps
RV, skoolie, camping, and hiking apps are getting to be very popular. Not only do some of these apps offer great places to boondock, park, dump stations, toilets, showers, if pets are allowed and cell phone coverage signal availability, they will also tell you if there is fresh water available.
These are apps that should be on every skoolie owner’s phone and used religiously like a tool. Some of our favorite ones are listed below.
- The Dyrt
This is our least favorite option for finding and filling fresh water.
We realize that most black tank dump stations have an option for potable water, but the fact that you are replenishing your fresh water tank right next to where so many people are dumping their black tanks just grosses us out.
The opportunity for cross-contamination from the black dump to the fresh spout is too much for us to take that risk. There are far too many other options for getting fresh water.
We do not utilize a black tank in our skoolie, so we never are looking for dump stations. In a pinch though, this is a viable option if you don’t mind the black waste being disposed of so closely.
Potable v. Non-Potable Water For Your Fresh Water Tank
Most of you have likely seen or heard the term, “potable” water. Potable water is just another name for fresh water, drinking water, or clean water.
Mind you, the term, “clean” is subjective.
Potable water is safe for human or pets consumption. If you are ever at a location where water is being offered through a hose or spigot and it states that the water is non-potable water, then, by all means, Do Not drink or consume this water. Not even for your pets!
You are most likely to see a sign indicating whether a water source is potable or non-potable near an RV dump station.
It is not worth the risk of getting sick to drink water if you are not sure it is fresh or not.
Drive While Your Fresh Water Tank Is Low on Water
This is a good strategy while traveling from one destination to another, provided, you have planned ahead and have a readily available source of fresh water at your arrival.
Remember that water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon. Doing the math, you can see pretty clearly that a full tank of fresh water is going to weigh your skoolie down and have an impact on your MPG.
Even if you are only sporting a 30- 40 gallon water tank, that is an additional 250lbs to 332lbs of additional weight. It’s not just the decrease in fuel mileage but more about the added wear on the engine, transmission, and tires.
This is especially true if you have a 100-gallon water tank or more. That is an extra 830 pounds. So, if at all possible with a little pre=planning, try to have that fresh water tank as empty as possible.
Be sure to have your grey water tank empty while traveling also! No need to carry around all of that dirty water.
Always empty your grey water tank responsibly.
Berkey or Similar Water Filter system
We have already mentioned that it is advisable to pre-filter any water you put into your skoolie freshwater system with an inline hose filter.
If you feel comfortable enough consuming water from your fresh tank, then more power to you. For us, we prefer to filter our drinking and cooking water for an additional step. We have used a Zero water filter system and currently use a Berkey Water Filter System.
We prefer the Berkey filter system because the filters last a very long time and it is genuinely some of the best water we have tasted.
Fresh Water Accessories For Your Fresh Water Tank
There are many items available to us that make filling our fresh water tank easier. So many accessories that make storing our water, monitoring our water and distributing our water so much simpler.
We are going to list below some of our favorite fresh water accessories we have used so far since living and traveling in our skoolie.
Let us know if you have a favorite accessory that we have not listed here.
Fresh Water Hose
Having a dedicated fresh water hose is a great way to ensure you are getting the best tasting fresh water into your tank while also eliminating any harmful solids or insects from entering your water system.
By using a water hose designed for drinking water, you will not have to deal with the unpleasant plastic or rubber taste a regular garden hose puts out.
The Camco 35 foot water hose is a nice length to reach the water spigot from your schoolies water intake valve and it is made of lead-free, BPA-free, and phthalate-free materials.
Inline water filter
If you have a way of filtering your drinking water from your potable water, (We know, technically, they are the same thing, but we hardly ever drink water from the spigot without first filtering with our Berkey Water Filter), then this in-line water filter is a must-have!
The Camco, or similar brands, filters the water from the source before it ever enters your fresh water tank.
This is great for a couple of reasons.
First, there may be contaminants or solids in the pipes themselves, and a water filter will eliminate those solids before they enter your fresh water system.
Secondly, the inline filter will eliminate bad odors, bacteria, chlorine, and other minerals that may be distasteful or harmful to you and your family.
There are going to be locations and circumstances where you have an available fresh water source, but the threads are either worn down so you can not connect your freshwater hose to it. Perhaps it is a hand pump, and there isn’t a threaded mouth at all.
How are you going to collect the water from the spout?
We have the answer! The Water Bandit. This silicon water hose attachment is a lifesaver in the right situation.
Be sure to always clean and disinfect all connections before and after each use. You never know who or what may have been drinking from that spout before you.
Water purification tablets are a nice accessory to have if you ever find yourself off-grid in a remote location where the only source of water is from a stream, river, lake, or pond.
There are very viable water sources when boondocking and camping on remote dispersed land. If you have a bucket or something for collecting some natural water, use the purification tablets to eliminate any bacteria that may be present in the water.
A Jerry can is a great container for collecting fresh water from a local grocery store self-service water refill station, well pump in a campground or a river or lake.
Using the Jerry can to transport back to your skoolie may seem like a lot of work, but they typically hold 6-7 gallons of water.
This would be enough to get through a couple of days of safe drinking water until you can find somewhere to fill your fresh tanks.
If you don’t mind carrying the 50 to 60 lbs of water back and forth from the source to your skoolie, think of it as a good workout and fill your fresh tank for free.
If you ever going to be in a situation where you need to collect water using a Jerry can, then you are going to need a clean water funnel to pour the water from your Jerry can into your gravity-fed water intake.
Having a dedicated water funnel that is big enough to accommodate 6 to 7 gallons in a few minutes will make your life much easier.
Locating Freshwater Q & A
Many questions are surrounding the freshwater for you skoolie. It’s not just about finding or locating the water. Here are some of the most common questions we have seen and heard surrounding your fresh water tank and water.
Checkl out this blog post we wrote on your Skoolie Plumbing System and how your fresh water tank fits into the bigger equation.
How Do I Know When My Fresh Water Tank Is Full?
There are a couple of ways to determine when your fresh water tank is full. The simplest way and most cost-effective way is to simply put some eyes on the water tank itself and see the level of water in the tank.
Watch the Tank Fill Visibly
This is likely going to take to people to do so most effectively. One person is manning the hose outside of the skoolie while another is looking at the fresh water tank filling up on the inside. When it is full or at a level, you are happy with, one person calls out and you remove the hose from the fill spout.
Now, that may be the simplest way and most cost-effective way, but the easiest way is by installing sensors into your fresh water tank.
Fresh Water Tank Sensors
The best and most easy way to determine if your fresh water tank is full or close to empty is by installing Water Level Screw-In Sensors. This may seem complicated and even scary to drill holes into your water tank, but it is no riskier than the holes already there for the inlet and drain holes.
We have never known fresh water sensors to leak when installed properly. By the way, they are quite simple to install.
Rv Tank Sensor Monitor Panel
Marry the sensors with an RV Tank Sensor Monitor Panel and you have yourself a nice system in place to monitor your fresh as well as your grey water tank levels.
Simply push a button on the monitor panel and you will be able to determine if your water tank is full, half full, ¼ of the way full, or just about empty.
How Do I Know When I am Almost Empty?
You will know your tank is empty or almost empty in one of two ways.
- As you are running your water, your spigot or faucet will begin to spit and sputter. When this happens, your fresh water system is indicating it is either near empty or there is a clog in the system somewhere.
Immediately turn off the water and check your tank for your water
level. If it is indeed empty, then it is time to refill with some fresh
If it is not empty or near empty, check the system for a block line
immediately before or after the water pump. It is very important to have an in-line filter or screen between the fresh water tank and The water pump.
That being said, it is not a bad idea to have a water screen or filter after the water pump as well. In the event a solid does get through your water pump, it will likely be screen before entering the rest of your water system.
- Simply check your RV Tank Sensor Monitor Panel. If you have installed the Water Level Screw-In Sensors, simply check the monitor and you will know exactly how low your fresh water is. Easy Peasy!
How Do I Know If My Grey Water Tank Is Full?
This is very similar to determining if your fresh water tank is full or empty. To prevent this from sounding too repetitive, simply read the two paragraphs above and exchange the words fresh water tank for the gray water tank.
We highly recommend utilizing the Water Level Screw-In Sensors. Be aware, however, that when using these in your grey tank, you may have to clean them from time to time depending on how dirty you allow your greywater and tank to get.
How Do I Add Water To My Fresh Water Tank?
For most skoolie fresh water systems, there are two ways to fill your fresh water tank. The easiest way is to drop a drinking-water fresh water hose into the opening of your gravity-fed opening and turn on the faucet until it is full.
City Water Hose in your Gravity Feed
The gravity-fed inlet on your fresh water connections port is meant to be used with a fresh water hose. It is simply a tube that directs the fresh water from your hose directly into your water tank.
Jerry Can with Funnel Into Your Gravity Feed
Another way of filling or at least adding water into your fresh water tank is by pouring water from a Jewrry can through a funnel into your gravity-fed water port. This process is much more strenuous and time-consuming but a viable option when connecting to a water faucet is not an option.
How Do I Keep My Fresh Water Tank Clean and Fresh?
Some people may want to know how do you keep your fresh water tank clean and fresh. Think about that for a moment. Some people go through their fresh water much slower than others. If you allow water to sit for a long time period, it may develop bacteria in it, especially in warmer climates.
If you begin to notice a “smell” to your water or especially if you notice a discolorization to your water, it is a positive indication you need to clean and sanitize your fresh water system.
There are a few reasons why cleaning or sanitizing your water tanks are necessary.
As a general rule, it is recommended that you do not keep water in
your water tank for more than two weeks. If you are holding water
beyond two weeks, it may be a good idea to drain the remaining
water in your tank and refill it with some fresh water.
Parasites can enter your fresh water tank and system through improper filling techniques. Be sure to always use your water hose and be sure to always sanitize and clean the connections before and after each use.
Some bacteria wipes should be sufficient to clean the connections.
Bacteria can grow inside of your fresh water tank by using a poor
water source, dirty faucet or spigot, or a dirty or contaminated water
This is why it is paramount to use your dedicated drinking water hose
to fill your tanks.
How Much Does It Cost To Refill My Fresh Water Tank?
Generally speaking, it should not cost you anything to fill or top off your fresh water tank. Depending on the source and location of where you are getting the potable water from, the cost should be free or negligible.
When asking businesses to use their water to top off their tanks, it is socially acceptable and graceful to offer a donation to compensate the business for their clean water. After all, they are likely connected to a municipal water source and paying a price per gallon of usage themselves.
Skoolie Fresh Water Tank Wrap Up
There are four criteria for human survival. One of those is water. Without fresh drinking water, the typical human can not survive more than three days.
Not to be all dramatic and junk, but fresh water is a critical element for a successful and happy skoolie life experience.
Knowing where to obtain a safe and reliable source for water can be one of the most challenging aspects of skoolie life on the road. By utilizing some of the suggestions in this post, filling your fresh water tank should be much easier and simpler now.
Where do you find fresh water for your skoolie? Let us know how you fill your fresh water tank. We would love to hear from and connect with you!