Are You Drinking Contaminated Campground Water?

I recently came across this article on the "Do It Yourself RV" newsletter and found it interesting and informative.


You wouldn’t take a sip out of your RV sewer hose, but connecting to some campground water supply lines could be just as disgusting and dangerous to your health.

Recent news headlines show that contaminated campground water is an ongoing problem around North America. Unfortunately you can’t smell it or taste one of the most frequent contaminants, E-coli bacteria. Campers lacking RV water filtration systems are playing Russian Roulette each time they connect to a water supply.

contaminated campground water
What lurks in your campground water? (Image:

Earlier this year, RVers in Julian, California unknowingly ingested contaminated campground water laden with the gut-wrenching E-coli bacteria. Nobody died, but campers boiled all water until further notice. Unfortunately this incident wasn’t unusual.

May 2017: Campers at Little Wood River Reservoir Campground in Cary, Idaho got a nasty surprise. Authorities found trace amounts of E-coli thriving in their contaminated campground water supply. Experts promptly shut down the system.

June 2016: The public campground at Omaha’s Lake Cunningham made headlines when water authorities detected contaminated campground drinking water. Experts closed the entire park because of E-coli.

May 2016: A Minnesota state park water supply discovered contaminated water twice in one season.

Contaminated campground drinking water can happen at great parks and bad ones. E-coli infiltrates wells for many reasons, including animal waste runoff from nearby farms, old leaky septic systems, and inadequate waste water management.

Many RV parks and campgrounds are on their own private water wells and could be at greater risk of contamination. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Private wells are a greater cause for concern because they don’t often have any disinfecting system. Rural water supplies are the most likely to be contaminated.”

How to protect yourself from contaminated campground water

We all have E-coli living in our bodies. In a normal environment, the bacteria does no harm. However certain strains are more dangerous than others. If you accidentally ingest one of the more vicious strains, you could experience the most horrific gastrointestinal distress of your life.

Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. You may notice these signs the day after ingesting E-coli, or even a week later. The bacteria is especially hard (and sometimes lethal) for people with compromised immune systems, like elderly adults and young children.

Even reliable water systems can become contaminated with E-coli. But if your health is less than optimal and you want extra reassurance for your RV water supply, you can:

  1. Fill your water tanks from a municipal water source.
  2. Install a RV water filtration system.

Choosing a RV water filtration system can seem overwhelming. Manufacturers offer many different ways to purify water but if you enjoy camping in rural locations, you may want to consider an ultraviolet light sterilizer. Water purification experts say that UV light sterilizers can be used for an entire RV water system, not just drinking water. These systems don’t usually cost as much as the second best RV water purification option, a reverse osmosis system. “RO” systems, as they’re called, remove most contaminants from your RV water supply.

Don’t leave home without a good RV water filtration system. After all, your intestinal health and even your life could depend on it.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published