Capturing rainwater from your roof is a great way to supply water for a range of purposes including washing clothes, flushing toilets and watering your garden.
Rainwater tanks can also help you save money on your water bill, especially if you also use other water-saving devices such as:
- dual-flush toilets
- water-efficient showerheads
- trigger nozzles
- tap timers.
Rainwater tanks can save up to 40,000 litres per household per year.
Before you purchase or install a rainwater tank there are a number of considerations to make, including:
- choosing the right tank for your needs
- organising installation and maintenance
- ensuring safety and water quality
- familiarising yourself with relevant permits and regulations.
Safety and water quality
Making sure water quality is good depends on correct design and installation, followed by sensible maintenance of your rainwater tank and catchment area.
When installed, your tank should be covered. Every access point, except the inlet and overflow, should be sealed.
If an access point is left uncovered, there's a risk of children, adults and animals drowning or contaminating the water.
The inlet should incorporate a mesh cover and a strainer to keep out foreign matter and to stop mosquitoes and other insects getting into the tank. The overflow should also be covered with an insect-proof screen.
You should not use a rainwater tank to supplement or provide your main source of drinking water if you live in an area affected by heavy traffic, industry, incinerators and/or smelters.
For more information download the booklet, Your private drinking water supply (available below), which provides simple information to help keep your domestic drinking water supply safe and healthy.
Private drinking water supplies
If you live in a rural area of Victoria you may have your own private drinking water supply.
This could be a rainwater tank connected to your roof, or a tank connected to a nearby stream, bore or well.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has developed a booklet which provides simple information to help keep your domestic drinking water supply safe and healthy.
Permits and regulations
Before you purchase or install a rainwater tank, check out the health, building or council regulations in your local area.
Reference: Guidance on use of rainwater tanks 3rd edition by enHealth Council.
Notice on rainwater tank standards
Customers considering the purchase of a rainwater tank should be aware that Australian standards and guidelines apply to their design, material, manufacture and installation.
These standards ensure the product being purchased offers consumers safety, quality and longevity.
All polyethylene rainwater tanks should be certified to ASNZS4766:2006.
Tanks certified to this standard can be clearly identified, as the following details must be permanently marked on the external surface of the tank:
- the manufacturer's name
- tank capacity
- date of manufacture
- serial number
- standard number (ASNZS4766).
Details on the relevant standards applicable to tanks made from alternative materials can be found in Australian Standards Handbook: HB230:2009.