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Water Safety

Boil Water Advisory: Camping or Recreational Area Information

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you’re camping, in a recreational area, like hiking trails, camping, or any outdoor area when a boil water advisory is issued, it’s important to have the right information so you’ll know what to do.

How to Use Water Safely

For general information on how you can use the water at your campsite during the boil water advisory, see the pages below.

If you’re in the backcountry or if you can’t boil your water see Drinking Water in the Backcountry

You may be able to make the water safe to drink in ways other than boiling.

If you filled your camper or recreational vehicle (RV) with water that’s unsafe, you’ll need to disinfect and flush the water system.

Disinfecting and Flushing RV Water Storage Tanks and Systems

When your RV water storage tank has been filled with unsafe water (water under a boil water advisory), it’s time to disinfect the RV water storage tank and water system. You may also want to do this if:

  • there’s a stale odour in the water from the RV water system
  • the RV has been sitting for a month or more and the water system has not been used

Note: It’s important to follow the Owner’s Manual for disinfecting RV water storage tanks and for flushing of the RV water system. If the Owner’s Manual is not available, then follow the procedures below.

Steps for disinfecting RV water storage tanks:

  1. Remove any internal or external water filters.
  2. Drain all water out of the water storage tank, water lines and the water heater (if there is one), and then close all of the drain valves.
    Caution: Never drain the water heater when it’s hot or under pressure.
  3. Find out the size of your water storage tank (in litres).
  4. Figure out how much bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) you’ll need. For every 250 litres of water your storage tank can hold, use 250 mL of bleach.
  5. Mix the amount of bleach you need for your tank into 5 to 10 litres of water first. Then pour this solution into the RV water storage tank using a clean funnel.
  6. If there’s a by-pass for the water heater, set it to normal use so the water heater will be disinfected.
  7. Fill the RV water storage tank as full as you can with fresh water that’s safe to drink.
  8. Turn on the pump. Run all hot and cold water taps one at a time for a few minutes until you smell the bleach and then close the tap.
  9. Top up the RV water storage tank, with water that’s safe to drink.
  10. Let the chlorinated (bleach) water sit in the water storage tank and plumbing system for at least 6 hours (overnight is better).
  11. After 6 hours (or in the morning), drain the chlorinated water using the taps into the grey/black wastewater tanks.
    Caution: Highly chlorinated (bleached) water is not safe for drinking and is not good for pets. It’ll cause problems if drained directly into septic fields or into surface water. This water should always be drained into grey/black wastewater tanks.
  12. Fill the water storage tank again with fresh water that is safe to drink, and drain the tank using the taps to flush out any leftover bleach solution.
  13. Install new internal or external water filters.

  14. Flushing RV water systems:

    Some RV’s don’t have a water storage tank, but have a direct connection hook-up to a water supply. This type of RV water system may be flushed as follows:

    1. Remove any internal or external water filters.
    2. Drain the water heater, if there is one.
      Caution: Never drain the water heater when it’s hot or under pressure.
    3. Connect the RV directly to a chlorinated town water supply that’s not under a boil water advisory.
    4. Run the hot and cold water taps that are the furthest away from the direct connection hook-up. Let the water run for 5 minutes.
    5. Flush all other taps for 5 minutes.
    6. Install new internal or external water filters.

    If you have any questions about your water, call the Environmental Public Health Office closest to your area.​


Current as of: July 12, 2019

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services