Build your own water pump and filtration system

As we were travelling around Australia in 2013 as brand new Grey Nomads, we took advantage of 'Free Camping' as much as possible. However, much to our surprise, we ran out of water on two occasions, despite having two water tanks on board. We were always mindful of this limited resource and rationed it accordingly.

I determined there and then, that something must be done, so it wouldn't happen again.

Getting bigger water tanks wasn't an option, so when we got home after our 5 month trip, I started researching the hows and whys of procuring clean, safe water for drinking, while on the road.

What I came up with may not be the best way, or even the only way, but for us... it worked!

I had read that others had pumped 'clean water' from creeks and rivers, to top up their water tanks, but without adequate filtering and purification, I felt this would be too risky.

My solution was, to build a pump, filtration and purification system that would produce clean, potable water from practically any water source (except salt water).

The D.I.Y Project consisted of:

  • An inexpensive plastic toolbox from Bunnings, to house the pump and battery.
  • A 40 AmpHour AGM battery to power the pump, rather than running long leads from the van.
  • A 5w Solar Panel to keep the battery charged.
  • At water's edge, the water is pumped from the creek or river, through a sediment filter, to an activated carbon block filter, through a final carbon/silver filter to...
  • A Holding Tank (a 20 litre food grade bucket) and then
  • Purified by the addition of Katadyn Micropur Silver Ion powder.

After two hours, the purified water is pumped into the caravan water tanks, via a bilge pump setup in the 'holding tank'.

It is now suitable for showering, washing and drinking.

For peace of mind more than anything, we have a ceramic/carbon filter installed under the sink, to produce pure drinking water.

With this setup, we can procure water from creeks, rivers, billabongs... and in a pinch, even horse troughs and puddles!

The photos that follow, tell the story.

The PARTS List:

  • Toolbox $19.95 Bunnings
  • Water Pump $79 eBay
  • Battery $95 eBay
  • Solar Panel $38 eBay
  • Sediment/Carbon Filter Unit $78 eBay
  • B.E.S.T. Filter $100
  • Food Grade Bucket $14 Bunnings
  • Bilge Pump $16 eBay
  • 3 x 10m Drinking Water Hoses $57 Bunnings
  • Misc. switches, fuses, wiring... $20
  • Katadyn Micropur Powder $150
  • Doulton Ceramic/Carbon Filter $76

Approximate total cost $743.00

I had everything except the Tool Box, Battery, Solar Panel, Micropur Powder and Doulton Ceramic Filter. So when you consider the tens of thousands we spend on a caravan and tow vehicle, an extra few hundred to guarantee never running out of water again... the exercise is worthwhile!

Follow the project pic below to see how it all goes together

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10 thoughts on “Build your own water pump and filtration system

  1. Kane says:

    Hi David,

    I think the system you have developed is awesome! I thinking of making one myself. Just wondering you have any ideas about a purification system that could be added in to remove the need for the bucket. Any ideas?

    • David
      David says:

      Kane says:

      Hi David,

      I think the system you have developed is awesome! I thinking of making one myself. Just wondering you have any ideas about a purification system that could be added in to remove the need for the bucket. Any ideas?

      Hi Kane, thanks for your positive feedback.

      The thing to remember Kane, is that the water pumped from the creek/river, while filtered, is not "purified".
      It would be extremely unwise to drink the un-purified water.

      The purification methods available to us, as I see it, are Chlorine (4ml of liquid pool chlorine per 100L), Peroxide (HydroSil-Ultra), UltraViolet (UV), Reverse Osmosis (not recommended in RV situation) or Silver (like Katadyn Powder).

      With my Project, the reason I chose the "Holding Bucket" method was, although I have two water tanks in our caravan, we only have one filler point. So adding a purification medium to the tanks through one inlet, wouldn't give equal distribution to both tanks... the first tank on the line would probably get most of the dose. Having the bucket allowed external purification before the water is added to the tanks. Admittedly, not an ideal solution, but necessary in my situation.

      If you have one tank/one filler, or two tanks/two fillers, then dump the bucket and add your purification medium directly to the tank. To get the correct dose, you'd need to monitor the amount of water going in and that can be done simply, with the addition of a flow meter attached to the inlet hose (I use a Holman Flow Meter Counter).

      Hope that helps.

    • David Price
      David Price says:

      Thanks for your comment Robert. Your Blue Box 60 kinda puts mine to shame. Love the fact you've incorporated Reverse Osmosis AND UV into the system. Well done.
      What does it sell for?

  2. Sherry says:

    Hi, just wondering could you use this system in reverse to clean grey water in a mobile home situation so you can discharge to the garden for example? And how would you maintain the system?

    • David Price
      David Price says:

      Thanks for your comment Sherry. My personal opinion is, grey water doesn't need treatment before discharge to the garden... maybe an old sock over the discharge end. For those who consider filtration necessary, a sediment filter (the first filter in my system) would suffice. A system like mine certainly wouldn't be required.

      However, if NO OTHER WATER was available, I wouldn't hesitate to process grey water through my system, for showering and washing purposes. Would I drink it? I'd like a more qualified opinion on that!

      Hope that helps.

      David

  3. David Price
    David Price says:

    Thanks for your interest Jay.
    Here's a shot of the inside of the bucket...
    http://exploreoz.net/images/bilge-in-bucket-text.jpg
    David

  4. J says:

    A Holding Tank (a 20 litre food grade bucket) and then
    Purified by the addition of Katadyn Micropur Silver Ion powder.
    After two hours, the purified water is pumped into the caravan water tanks, via a bilge pump setup in the ‘holding tank’. It's all written in the explaination of the set up.
    A top idea, and no doubt other will knock it & have different ideas but good onya for sharing your idea. Thanks.

    • David says:

      Hi Jay... thanks for your interest.
      Here's a shot of the inside of the bucket.
      http://exploreoz.net/images/bilge-in-bucket-text.jpg

      Cheers

      David

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