Rainwater tanks, traditionally an icon of the Australian outback, are becoming a more common feature in urban communities, with around 17% of all households installing a tank on their property. More households need to purchase a rainwater tank if the community is to make a real difference to conserve rapidly depleting water supplies.
Why use rainwater?
Using rainwater can reduce your water bills as rainwater is free. Tank rebate schemes are available in many states. For further information, contact your local water retailer.
Collecting rainwater allows you to be prepared for times of low rainfall, so you can still maintain your garden, especially if there are water restrictions in your area.
It reduces the load on stormwater systems because roof runoff is not flushed into the drains.
Using rainwater reduces the need to build more water storage dams, which may have to be situated in environmentally sensitive areas.
Benefits of installing a rainwater tank
Saves large amounts of water which can be used in the garden or in the home.
Requires a relatively simple system which is easy to use.
During the wet season, when the garden doesn't need any extra watering, rainwater can be connected to the house and used for toilet flushing as well as in the laundry
Rainwater is also suitable for use in pools and for washing cars
In some rural areas, it is possible to use rainwater for all domestic uses, and not draw upon the mains supply.
Issues associated with rainwater use
There are some important factors that affect the quality of rainwater, which may also become health issues:
Contamination from pollutants found in roof and pipe materials.
Contamination from bird droppings, local pollution, and organic material collected on the roof.
Breeding of mosquitos in the water supply.
The quality of water you need to maintain will depend on its use. However, water from rooftops that contain harmful chemicals should not be used for any purpose. Obviously, drinking water will have to meet the standards set by health authorities.
These quality issues can be overcome if you use approved products and techniques. Tanks and other equipment must meet the required standards, and state health authorities will approve most reputable manufacturers and installers. Your local water authority should be able to recommend high quality products and approve your system.
Tank to pool systemsInstalling a rainwater tank is a great way to reduce the use of mains water in your swimming pool. Many regions now have rebates available for rainwater tanks.
Rainwater diverters are an inexpensive alternative to installing a tank. They attach to a downpipe and can be used to divert rainwater into your swimming pool. In large downpours, you will need to monitor the water level in your pool so that it does not overflow. You should consult a plumber about stormwater diversion.
Reducing EvaporationEvaporation is a major cause of water loss from your swimming pool. It is important to remember that the evaporation rate is highest in the early evening as the air cools and the water remains warm. This can be reduced by covering the pool's surface. Covering the pool lowers the pool's temperature, decreasing evaporation whilst preventing debris from falling on the pool surface. By preventing sunlight from penetrating the water, you will also reduce the amount of chemicals needed to keep the pool clean.
Ways to reduce evaporation
What type of filter should I use?Sand filters require backwashing which can use up to 8000L of water every year. Purchase a cartridge filter if you are installing a new pool or replacing the filter. Cartridge filters do not require backwashing to be cleaned so they use less water.
Backwashing a sand filter should be carried out once every 4–6 weeks. Only backwash until the glass goes clear - backwashing for longer will waste excessive amounts of water.
Pool behaviour and maintenanceWhat if my pool has already gone green?