I’ve been planning to get a rainwater tank (also known as a rainwater barrel or butt depending on where you live) since the start of the year, in time for last winter’s rain, but things got in the way. I first thought I would use the collected water for my garden in summer, but then I realised it would last about a week in Perth’s dry summers. Then I decided I would drink the rain water. My friends at Nuts about Natives do this and it works well. They have a ceramic and charcoal filter, and scrub the roof and guttering before the first winter rains.
Now, after much um-ing and ah-ing I have a rainwater tank. It was delivered during the very wet week in September. It’s a 1500L above ground tank in heritage green, to match the posts of my carport. To get my drinking water, I will fill a ceramic and carbon filter from the tank tap and it will sit in the kitchen, to provide all my drinking needs. Now the hot weather has arrived I’m drinking a lot more water. I’ve decided not to plumb the tank into my house, mainly because it would run out very quickly. The WA Department of Water provides rebates for part of the cost of rainwater tanks. It’s only $50 if the tank is not plumbed into the house, but it’s still worth it.
My Dad connected the new rainwater tank to the guttering last week, just in time for a supposed deluge. I thought it wouldn’t get a work out until next year, but after a week of trying to rain, it bucketed down on Friday. The tank has some water, but it’s not up to the tap which is half a metre up the side. When it was raining I put my ear up to the tank and I could hear drips echoing around the near empty tank.
The tank is only connected to one side of my carport roof, as a start. This doesn’t encompass much roof collection area, but I’ll see how it goes. The gutter is in very good condition and no leaves fall into it, because there are no trees (except palms) on this side of the house. My dad said this will change in a few years when the tuart is taller than the carport. Two options for covering gutters against leaf litter are SmartFlo integrated gutter and leafguard system or Blue Mountain Mesh gutter protection.
Blue Mountain Mesh is an all steel mesh system that prevents leaves and debris entering gutters. The mesh fits from the top outside edge of the gutter, across the gutter section and is then attached to the roof surface. This creates a platform that suspends leaves and debris above the roof gutter, allowing material build-up to be blown away by wind.
If I have future problems with leaves I’ll install Blue Mountain Mesh because SmartFlo is a full guttering system for building a roof from scratch. If smaller pollution (eg. dead insects, bird poo) enters the pipes the First Flush Diverter will wash clean the gutter every time it rains. And the ceramic and carbon filter will deal with anything else.
The lower portion of the tank, below the tap, is emptied from a bung at the very bottom. Debris which gets through the First Flush Diverter collects here. Rather than letting this just pore out, my Dad installed a very clever connector with hose attachment, so I can use the last amount of water on the garden. Sometime in summer when the water runs out this will be very useful, although it won’t go very far.
If only the tank had been connected the other week when workers were doing something to the storm water drains near my street. They must have dug up the wrong pipe because the water got turned off for a few hours. If I had tank water I could have sold sparkling rainwater up and down the street. And if only the storm water drains were connected to irrigation, we’d all be better off.
Before getting a tank, it’s a good idea to work out how much water you use so you can get the right size tank. The main constraining factor in what size tank you choose is how much area you have available in which to place the tank. I decided on the 1500L, but I’ve realised I have space for a larger 2500L tank. I still have room for the larger tank next to the first one and I’m thinking of getting a second tank to collect the rain from the other side of the roof in time for next winter. The more rainwater I collect, the better.
There are many options in rainwater tanks, including:
- You Grow Girl describes how to install a plastic barrel to collect rainwater, which Trina at Greenfoot did. Her mosquito problem was solved by stocking her tank with mountain cloud fish. She just has to watch out for them when scooping out the water.
- Rainwater diverters are cheaper than a tank. This would be more useful for filling or topping up a pool or pond (I’m planning a frog pond for my garden) because as David asks,
If it’s raining, why would you want to water your garden?
- The portable Handytank water tank has 1000L capacity and is easily DIY installed.
- Emma at Aussie Build is installing a 10,000L underground tank before building her house, to fulfil all her water needs.