Rainwater Harvesting Australia – a chartered committee of Irrigation Australia

Greetings to our rainwater harvesting members and friends of rainwater harvesting. The Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia (RHAA) has joined with Irrigation Australia to form a chartered committee of Irrigation Australia called Rainwater Harvesting Australia.

The benefits of this union are already showing as we design a new website and enjoy enhanced administrative support and the network and resources of the larger organisation. The new chairman is John Pivac from Philmac. I am the Technical and Sustainability Manager at Kingspan Environmental and the committee has allowed me to write this blog.

The committee has adopted the Rainwater Harvesting Position Statement established by the former RHAA including the following key points

  • Rainwater harvesting is the first and most efficient element of an integrated water management system.
  • Because rainwater falls on roofs it is a local supply that can be collected where it is needed
  • Because rainwater is usually high quality it can meet significant local water demand
  • Capturing rainwater reduces the negative impacts of urban water on natural catchments.
  • PJ Coombes estimated savings from rainwater harvesting and water efficient appliances in 2016 in Sydney alone of 90 billion litres annually, equivalent to the entire capacity of the Sydney $1.8B desalination plant.

One of the early issues the committee needed to deal with was when the ABC published a lifestyle article in November 2017 associating rainwater with ‘gastro, toxic metals and more’. This is not consistent with the federal Enhealth Guidelines on Rainwater tanks which state that the ‘risk of contracting illness from rainwater supplied from well-maintained roof catchments and tanks is very low’. This is not surprising given that three million Australians drink rainwater every day. There is research actually in the guidelines on this topic that shows that rainwater is NOT associated with higher levels of gastroenteritis or that gastroenteritis associated with rainwater is not reported. The committee has written to the ABC on the grounds the article does not meet the ABC editorial policy.

On a more cheerful note the Rainwater Harvesting team will be presenting two papers at the upcoming Irrigation Australia conference in June 2018 at Darling Harbour, Sydney and there will be a dedicated Rainwater Harvesting exhibition space at the conference for industry and the public to visit.

Michael Smit, Technical and Sustainability Manager Kingspan Environmental