Author Archives: Michael Smit

How to Water your Garden

Garden WateringA sustainable approach to water includes not only where your water comes from but how you use it. Some simple advice will help you use your valuable water to make a great garden. Before you even consider watering, push aside the mulch, stick your finger into the soil – if it is moist below the surface you don’t need to water. This is a repost of one of our most popular posts with over 5,000 reads.

Rainwater Harvesting 2016: Resilience and Independence

disruption posterThe RHAA presented to the Association of Rotational Moulders on the surprising significance of rainwater harvesting as a major and affordable source of residential water in Australia but with a whole series of synergistic benefits at a regional level for energy use, catchment yield and stormwater management. The presentation concludes with the launch of a joint RHAA/ARMA project on Independent Water, which is the rainwater providing 69% of all household use outside capital cities and is the only source of water for over 2 million Australians.

How to live in your house

Rooftop with solar panelsSaving water and energy is a consistent element of the every sustainable house in Australia. But sustainable houses are often stereotyped as unusual, as if the houses and their inhabitants are somehow not like the rest of us and have achieved something we cannot do. And yet over one million houses in Australia have solar panels and 2.3 million houses have a rainwater tank. The following home owners show that caring about our impact on the planet and the future for our children puts money in your pocket and is easily achieved with existing technology. 

Rainwater Health Debate

Steel Roofby Michael Smit and Prof PJ Coombes An important debate in this country is about the health of people using rainwater, however much of the commentary is funded by water monopolies who have a centralised water distribution perspective quite different to how rainwater harvesting works.  One of the recent rebuttal papers by PJ Coombes has just been published and we thought we should discuss some of the issues, as much to demonstrate there is a difference of opinion.

Sustainable Households, Systems Insights, Real Data

By Professor PJ Coombes and Michael Smit When most people talk about sustainability they talk about and analyse separate elements, a rainwater tank, solar panels, recycling, orientation, cross ventilation. How much does that element cost, what will that element produce, how much will that element save?

The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed

Drawing of new housingYes, it was a big call but at the breakfast on 20 April in Sydney  Josh, Caroline and Scott delivered a very impressive vision of the future of Australian House Design. Thanks team, the world owes you a fine wine. Josh Byrne laid out the blueprint, literally, for Josh’s house. In summary

The Future of Australian Housing Design Breakfast Event

Josh ByrneThe Rainwater Harvesting Association has organised a breakfast to talk about Housing Design on 20 April in Sydney. Australia needs to build 4 million new houses in Australia by 2036, a 50% increase from 2011. What do we want and what do we need from these houses? Almost every article we read about sustainable houses seems to include rainwater harvesting, solar panels, passive design features. These features clearly work so why do so many of  us have houses without them? What should we do to build great houses and reduce our costs, enjoy our houses more, pay less taxes, and raise healthy families?

Household water expenditure, utility operating costs, desalination

Authors: Prof. PJ Coombes and Michael Smit   “Water bills to rise as desal plant gets the go-ahead to start making water for the first time”   This heading, from a newspaper article in The Age on 6 March, caught our eye from our respective desks, so we called up and had a yarn, and some questions came up for us. We typically investigate multiple data sources to fully understand these issues. We make a living from these kinds of questions but some of the answers were a little startling.

Managing Drought: Learning from Australia

IllustrationThis report was funded by the Californians and responds to the Californian drought crisis by summarising the lessons learnt in Australia from the Millenium drought. This quote caught our eye “The Australian experience shows that investment in water conservation options provided the cheapest, quickest and most effective contribution to managing demand during the drought,” said Professor Stuart White, director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), at the University of Technology Sydney. “Without them many cities and towns would have run out of water.”

Who you gonna call?

Bush Tank StandBack in the day…. we all maintained our water tanks beautifully and whittled our own furniture in the long summer evenings. In the modern world however we sometimes need a hand making sure we are getting the best from our rainwater harvesting systems.