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Install a rainwater tank
Installing a rainwater tank is an excellent way of making use of one of our most important natural resources.
If you live in the country, rainwater is probably already an important source of your water. If you live in an urban area, installing a rainwater tank gives you a personal water supply.
You can use rainwater in place of tap water for watering your garden during water restrictions. If your tank is plumbed into your house, you can also use rainwater in your washing machine and for flushing the toilet.
- Catch a free supply of water
- Wash your car and water the garden during water restrictions
- Help conserve Australia's scarcest natural resource
At a glance
- Savings 2
- Ease 2
- Impact 2
- Check with your local council or state or territory health authority to see if there are any regulations that affect the collection and use of rainwater in your local area.
- Read the general health advice in guidance on use of rainwater tanks.
- Check if you are eligible for rebates and assistance to help with the cost of your rainwater tank. Many local councils and water authorities also offer a rebate to install a rainwater tank.
To choose the best rainwater system for your household, it's a good idea to get information and advice from a range of sources.
- Work out the best rainwater tank for you. Consider the size of tank, location (including above-ground or below-ground), use of the rainwater and maintenance requirements. Start with the Your Home Rainwater page and the Alternative Technology Association website for more information on selecting a rainwater tank.
- Decide if you want to use your rainwater indoors, outdoors or both. If you are going to use your rainwater indoors, you will need to have it plumbed into your home.
- Talk to several suppliers or manufacturers about your options before you commit to buying a rainwater tank.
- Check the warranties for different tanks as this can vary greatly.
- If you want to use your rainwater indoors, it may need to be installed by a licensed plumber. Talk to your plumber first to make sure you get a tank that is suitable for plumbing into your home. This will be a requirement if you're applying for a rebate or other financial assistance.
- Ask suppliers about any additional costs such as extra fittings, a first-flush diverter or pump.
- Talk to suppliers about specific requirements for different types of tanks, options for positioning the tanks, preparing the site and anything else you need to do before the tank arrives.
- If you are installing the tank yourself, ask your supplier to provide you with a copy of the instructions before the tank arrives.
- If you are having the tank installed, ask the installer to show you how the system works and explain any maintenance needs.
- Have your builder check for lead flashing and seal it if you're collecting from an old roof and using the rainwater for drinking. You may also need special gutter treatments such as screens to keep out debris.
- Install a first flush diverter. When it rains, this device will prevent the first flow of water from the roof entering the tank—it is this first flow of water that is likely to have contaminants.
- Make sure that your tank is correctly screened so that birds, insects and animals can't get in. To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your tank, screen the inlets and overflow outlets with fine mesh.
Over time, tanks can become contaminated with animal or bird droppings from the roofs or gutters or from lead flashing if you have an old roof. It's important to keep tanks in good condition so that the water will be clean and safe to use, especially for drinking. Not all states allow rainwater to be used for drinking water so check with your local council.
To maintain your system and keep your tank water clean you should:
- always follow the manufacturer's operating instructions, including how often the tank should be drained and cleaned
- check and clear your roofs and gutters often for vegetation and debris
- keep the roof clear of overhanging vegetation
- check and maintain screens around the tank
- if you've installed a first-flush diverter, ask the installer to show you how to clean it
- drain and clean your tank, generally every few years, to remove sediment.
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