Whether for a food truck, a food trailer, a coffee cart, or a concession stand, running water is an essential part of the business. There are a few different ways to get water into your mobile food business, and the best option for you will depend on your specific needs and situation. In this article, we will focus on the food truck and food trailer water systems.

Do Food Trucks Need Running Water?

The answer is yes, food trucks need running water to function properly. The water is used for dishwashing, food preparation, and general cleaning. If a food truck doesn’t have running water, it will need to find a way to haul fresh water to the truck for use. This can be a difficult task, and it can also be expensive.

How Do Food Trucks Get Water?

There are several ways to get running water in a food truck. One option is to install a water tank in the truck. This tank can hold a large amount of water, which can be used for both washing dishes and preparing food. The water tank can be connected to the plumbing in the truck, so that it can be used as needed. Other food trucks get their running water from a nearby source, such as a spigot or a faucet. This water can be used for dishwashing and cleaning, but it can’t be used for food preparation.

What Makes a Food Truck Water System?

A food truck water system is made up of a few different components: a water tank, a pump, a water heater, a sink system, and a faucet. It should also include the gray water tank for disposing wastewater.

food truck plumbing diagram

Diagram by sonomacounty.ca.gov

Water Tank

The most important part of the system is the water tank, which holds fresh water for use in the truck. The tank is either installed in the truck or it’s connected to a source of fresh water. The size of the tank will depend on the needs of the truck. A larger tank can be used for dishwashing and food preparation, while a smaller tank can be used for general cleaning.

If you’re in the market for a water tank, we recommend going with a standard plastic tank to ensure approval from your health department. If you’re searching for these tanks online in specific sizes you can look up RV water tanks or recreational vehicle water tanks. The water tanks used in food trucks are the same as those installed in RVs, campers, and tiny houses. The only difference is you may have a specific size requirement based on your operational needs, permitting requirements, and vehicle requirements.


The pump is used to move the water from the tank to the sink system and faucet. The pump should be able to handle the volume of water needed for your truck. It’s important to choose a pump that is compatible with the water tank, as some pumps may not be able to handle the weight of a full tank of water.

Water heater

The water heater is used to heat the water in the tank. This is necessary for dishwashing and food preparation. The water heater should be powerful enough to handle the volume of water needed for your truck. It’s important to choose a water heater that is compatible with the pump and the tank.

three sink compartment for food truck

Sink system

Food truck sinks must meet some basic standards. These specifications are in most cases similar to ones that apply to restaurants. Food truck sunk system is required to have three compartments, plus the the hand-washing compartment with hot running water at all times. All compartments are used for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing equipment, cooking utensils, and other tableware that are onboard your food truck. The sink compartments must be large enough to accommodate large kitchenware and utensils, such as pots and pans, except the hand-washing compartment that can be smaller.

How Much Water Does a Food Truck Need?

A food truck needs a lot of water to function properly. It can use anywhere from 50 to 100 gallons of water per day. This water is used for dishwashing, cleaning, and food preparation. If you’re not sure how much water your truck needs, it’s best to consult with your local health department. They will be able to tell you the specific requirements for your area. Here are links to requirements for Mobile Food Establishments and Vendors in different states/counties:

The size of your water tank is determined by how much water your food truck uses. In case you are not sure of the specific size to go for, a typical food truck should have a freshwater tank with a 30-35 gallon capacity and a grey water tank with a 50-55 gallon capacity. Bear in mind that 1 gallon will weigh up to 8 pounds.

This may change since tank sizes vary. Your local health department may also have recommended tank sizes for your vehicle. Whatever your decision is, make sure you settle for tanks with the right capacity so you don’t run into problems while running your business.

washing dishes in restaurant

Waste water disposal

How you dispose of waste water will also depend on the type of truck you have. If you have a passive system, you can simply dump the waste water into a sewer or septic tank. If you have an active system, you’ll need to install a wastewater disposal unit. Gray water from the sink can be disposed of in this unit, or you can install a separate tank to collect the wastewater. It’s recommended to install two drain boards into your sinks to help water drain. Some city or county health departments actually require two drain boards.

Most areas require a 15% larger waste tank than freshwater tank to pass a health inspection. This ensures that you can dump more wastewater than freshwater carried onboard. Make sure you understand your local area’s laws around this requirement before investing in a vehicle.

Winterizing food truck water system

Just like your home, it’s important to winterize your food truck water system. This will help protect the system from damage caused by the cold weather.

The first step is to make sure all of the hoses and fittings are properly insulated. You can do this by using heating tape or a heat blanket.

The next step is to drain the water tank. This will help prevent the tank from freezing. You can also add a winterizing agent to the water tank to help keep it from freezing.

Finally, you need to make sure the pump is properly protected. The pump can be protected by using a heating pad or a heat

So, what’s the bottom line? A food truck needs a lot of water to function properly – from 50 to 100 gallons per day, depending on the area. Keeping your water system running smoothly is important for the success of your food truck business. Make sure you have the right-sized water tank to avoid any problems down the road. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your water system stays in good working order. And, remember to winterize your water system before the cold weather hits!

If you are planning to build a food truck yourself, or you want to overhaul your commercial kitchen, we have a lot more useful kitchen equipment guides you can check out.