When used correctly, rainwater tanks are an effective way to take the pressure off our limited water resources, and at the same time, help manage stormwater run-off.
How they work
Rainwater tanks store the rainwater run-off from catchment areas like your roof. In most cases, the water from your roof is channelled along your gutters and into downpipes connected to your tank.
It is important to make sure you get the right size rainwater tank to suit your needs. Generally, the larger the tank, the more reliable and effective it is in conserving water or managing stormwater. A rainwater tank supplier will be able to advise the appropriate size tank for your home, based on the following considerations:
- the number of people living in your home
- the size of your garden
- intended used of rainwater (e.g. garden, toilet flushing etc.)
- available fittings and components to suit your needs
- the size of the roof catchment area
It is important to maintain your rainwater tank and components so that they work effectively and reduce the risk of contamination. Preventing problems before they arise will save you time, money and water.
Roofs and gutters
Gutters and roof catchment areas should be regularly inspected and kept clean and clear of leaves and debris. It’s a good idea to use screens or guards, and these should also be regularly cleaned. Keeping your rainwater screened and flowing cleanly and quickly from your catchment area into your tank reduces the build up of sludge as well as the risk of mosquitoes breeding in your tank.
Rainwater tanks should be checked for sludge at least every two to three years. If sludge is covering the bottom of your tank, you’ll need to remove it by siphoning it out or completely emptying your tank. Excessive sludge build up is a sign of inadequate roof and gutter maintenance. Remember, make sure you prevent mosquito access to your tank. If you find mosquitoes in your tank, find the entry point and close it.
As rainwater falls from the sky, it’s mostly free of micro organisms and other pollutants. However, during collection and storage, it’s possible rainwater can become contaminated. For this reason, it is suggested to have your rainwater tested if it’s intended use includes drinking. It also may be advantageous to have your roofing materials or the paint used in your catchment areas tested, as this can also contaminate your tank water.
Good maintenance is generally the key to good water quality. Installing screens helps to keep physical contaminants out of your tank, as do first-flush devices.
Residents are urged to consider installing a rainwater tank at their home. Rainwater tanks have a significant benefit not only to the community and environment, but also to the householder by reducing water consumption from the mains supply, in turn reducing the householder’s water bill.
Further information can be obtained by contacting Council, local rainwater tank suppliers or plumbers.