Sanitation Management (Septic or Sewer)

Sanitation services is often the most challenging part of creating convenient utilities for long term RV usage and it is the most important for health and safety.

How do I drain waste water, if I have a connection without a good slope to my connection?

If the physical location of your RV allows for an ideal “rise over run” connection for the efficient transport of waste water to a septic or public sewer connection, then this is the ideal solution.  In most situations that isn’t possible.  You can use a solution designed specifically for RVs.  An option many people use is called “Sewer Solution” and it will use fresh water to push waste water of any type over hills and long distances.

Can I leave the waste water gates open for my black and grey water tanks?

What most RV users and even building department employees DO NO KNOW about RVs is that you cannot leave the black drain valve open.  If you do, pyramiding occurs and will eventually cause a terrible blockage in the RV system.  No matter what connection you use, the drain valve must be left closed and opened periodically to drain the tanks.

Providing safe sanitation services is a serious business that protects the groundwater quality, so that we all have safe water to drink.  This video gives you an idea of the work done behind the scenes.

I think I can connect to an existing sewer/septic system.  How does that work?

  • An RV must be connected to household sewer/septic using the home’s exterior clean-out with a well-secured drain hose from the RV.
  • Any remaining opening of the clean-out must be reasonably covered to prevent odors.
  • RV tanks, hoses, and connections may not leak gray or black water onto the ground.

IMPORTANT:  Black water drain valves must remain closed to prevent sewage from drying on the lines and leading to an unpleasant blockage.  It is recommended to open the lines periodically to drain into the sewer or septic system, if attached.  (If using a pump and dump service, this is not an issue to be concerned about.)  Grey water drain valves can be left open.

I’m using a septic system.  How does it work to get a legal connection?

A septic system approval can be issued if the septic system record on file shows that the septic system has adequate capacity or if there is a record of the septic system and the applicant agrees to temporarily reduce sewage flow while the RV is on site. Flow reduction would include temporarily ceasing use of a bedroom while the RV is in use. A conditional statement on the permit will be required for septic approval.

If there is no record of the septic system, a field clearance is required. The field review must substantiate adequate function and capacity in the septic system for the intended use. Generally, the septic system must be uncovered for evaluation. If the septic system is inadequate or if the house is served by a cesspool, a new septic system will be required meeting at least the repair guidelines for septic systems.

I have a septic system that has not been inspected and approved by the building department for use (or it is damaged by the fire).  OR I am parked too far from a sewer cleanout.  What should I do?

Not all locations for an RV make a hookup solution possible.  In that case you will be required to have a monthly pump and dump service contract.

Pump and dump solutions for sanitation services result in a limited holding capacity that most traditional home dwellers will have some initial challenges to adjust to.  You can order a tank rental to increase your waste water holding capacity in between servicing visits.

We are in the process of creating our own list.  We found these service providers that might be able to assist you.  Check Yelp Reviews and do your own research to find the best provider for your needs.

I want to connect to a public sanitation company. Who can I call?

This list is provided because we understand as a survivor, that searching for information when you are exhausted is frustrating. We hope this helps you.

Just like any other provider we list, we have no relation to them at all and this isn’t an endorsement. We wish to help make your search for solutions easier. Please check Yelp Reviews and other tools to make your contracting decision. AND ALWAYS as for proof of Workman’s Comp before authorizing any changes to your property.

Services For:

  • County of Mendocino (coming soon)
  • County of Napa (coming soon)
  • County of Sonoma
  • County of Ventura (coming soon)

~*~ Updated Dec. 9, 2017 ~*~
Together we can help each other with valuable advice that needs to be shared to protect our homes and our foundation to thrive.


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Be informed. Choose wisely.

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This information is being re-purposed from our experience responding to the Valley Fire of 2015 and this is a living, changing document. This website resource is only a guide. Your local building and economic development department has the final word on what we can or can’t do.

Please thank them for allowing this RV policy because not every disaster area gets this privilege. SERIOUSLY!!! ~ Bring them as much love as the fire department. They are your NEXT RESPONDERS! They care about your well being and are working very hard to help people that were displaced by the fire storms on October 8th.

We invite you to offer your suggestions to improve this resource for other people.

Disclaimer: Everything related to RVs Without Borders and Tips From Survivors is being done by Good Samaritans. By using this site or its content or our ideas in any way, you agree to now and forever waive and release any claims whatsoever against the organizers, volunteers, and RV owners involved with this initiative, arising from any cause or event, or any action or non-action, real or imagined.

Lessons from those who lost their homes so you can protect your home, life savings & your loved ones.