As many reservoirs around Australia continue to fill, and with many government water rebate programs drawing to a close (except in Victoria) fewer rainwater tanks are being installed.
But should it actually be the other way around? It is better to install a tank when water is still plentiful, rather than waiting for the weather to dry out. Installing a tank and plumbing it into your laundry and toilet as well as using the rainwater on your garden will decrease your dependence on mains water supply, especially in the wetter part of the year. There are a few things to consider when you are looking to buy a rainwater tank though.
Most pre-existing guttering will be fine for your rainwater tank as long as you can connect to an existing downpipe. You will need to make sure you keep the guttering clear of leaves and other debris to prevent your tankwater from becoming contaminated. There are a range of gutter protection options out there to help make this job easier for you.
To get the rainwater into your tank, you will need the plumber to install a diverter onto the downpipe. There are a range of different diverters on the market with many of these including a first flush diverter (this makes sure that the first few litres of any rainfall event go to stormwater preventing any nasties that may have settled on your roof making it to your tank).
Pumps & plumbing
If you’re lucky and have enough pressure from your tank, then you may not need a pump, but in most cases it is a good idea. There are also some handy pump accessories (like the Davey Rainbank or Onga Waterswitch) that will automatically switch your supply back to mains water if your rainwater tank runs out of water.
With many tanks overflowing because of the recent rains on the east coast of Australia it’s a good time to look at how we can use some of that water rather than letting it go straight to storm water. At the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show this year we (savewater!® and Phillip Johnson Landscapes) put together a landscape that used the water from the tank overflow to run into our garden’s own creek. From there, water flowed into a billabong showing how we can live in Equilibrium with nature. Something of that scale isn’t always achievable for everyone, but you could easily build your very own raingarden in a garden bed next to your tank. We’ll cover raingardens here on the ripple effect in a future post.
How do I know if my tank manufacturer is any good?
Fantastic question! We recommend ensuring that your tank manufacturer is a member of the RHAA (that’s the Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia). The RHAA does some great work providing standards and guidelines to the rainwater harvesting industry.
Rainwater tanks not only play a role in having a sustainable household but can contribute to integrated water-cylce management across a city. This can delay high costs in developing new water supplies, which keeps the cost of mains water lower – Melbourne is one city where this plan (demonstrated in a recently released MAC report) is already in the pipeline.
So if you don’t have a tank, it’s a good time to consider installing one. If you already have a tank and it’s overflowing, maybe it’s time to consider other ways that you can make the most of that water.
Is your rainwater tank currently full?