As licenced plumbers in Canberra, I cannot remember how many times we have been asked this question. The phone calls usually begin around September – October every year. Primarily, the caller’s will usually want to use the rainwater for their gardens and lawns. Next is toilets and if possible, clothes washing too.
Because Canberra has a higher average annual rainfall than Bega on the south coast, my answer is yes, if you have the space and you need a tank. This usually results in a smile on the questioner’s face. Unfortunately, this smile is short lived. Why?
The reasons are many.
First, I explain that the average rooftop in Canberra can collect around 120,000 litres of water every year. However, when and how much rain falls is unpredictable.
The second reason is, I tell them that a 2,000 – 5,000 litre slimline rainwater tank is nowhere near big enough to help water their gardens and lawns. It certainly won’t be enough to also flush their toilets and use for clothes washing. For example, a garden hose can use up to 1,800 litres of water per hour alone.
Third, if they are on one of the older blocks above 650m, I am likely to tell them to consider a 20,000 litre rainwater tank. These have a footprint of over 4m in diameter and are usually 2.7m high at the peak. This is the largest tank you can have installed in the ACT without government approvals.
Then there are the regulations about where rainwater tanks can and cannot be installed. Without government approval, they cannot be installed within 1.5 meters of a boundary fence and not forward of the building line on the block.
Oh, and you will most likely need a pump, which will require a power point.
If they are still interested to this point, there is also the cost of connecting all of the downpipes via a completely new stormwater drainage system.
By now, like them, you are seeing the dollars add up quickly. You are asking yourself, “is it worth it”? You are probably also asking, “Is there a way around all of this”?
YES, it can be worth it, and YES, there are ways around all of this.
A scaled back version will help somewhat. Consider a smaller tank of around 10,000 litres for an important vegie patch.
Or consider a 2,000 -3,000 litre tank for toilet flushing. This could save the average Canberra house 20,000 litres of mains water every year.
Plan ahead for big blocks that have plenty of green spaces. If you are building a new house, allow space for rain water tanks. These can be as large as you want. They can be buried too. The location and capacity of the rain water tanks will need to be included in your development application.
I have installed many rain water tanks in Canberra. I can honestly say that the owners of those tanks have enjoyed having them. I think it is because they don’t feel guilty when using the rainwater they have collected themselves.
If you need a design and price for a rainwater tank in Canberra 6 Star Hot Water & Plumbing can help.
You can learn more about rain water tanks in Canberra by going to these useful links: