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Water Tanks

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3:47 am
November 1, 2009



posts 456

There is very useful information on installing water tanks, including ACT and Australian Government rebates, at http://www.environment.act.gov…..u/actsmart and http://www.livinggreener.gov.au. From these websites, it appears that the ACT Government rebate for a 2,000-3,999 litre tank is $750, and the Australian Government rebate for a similar sized tank is $400. In both cases, the water tanks need to be connected to plumbing inside the house (for example to the toilet) by a licensed plumber.

8:09 pm
November 14, 2009



posts 456

It's particularly important to read through the ACT Government's "Rainwater Tank Guidelines for Residential Properties in the ACT". I'm planning to install a tank at the moment, and it's not as straightforward as I thought. For example, I found out in the guidelines that:

  • There has to be a strong, level and continuous base for the water tank because it and the water weigh so much (my comment: the people who quoted me to install a water tank said they could prepare the base but would charge plumber's rates and so suggested it would be cheaper to get someone else to do it first)
  • Fine mesh screens need to be properly installed on inlet and outlet points to prevent insects such as mosquitoes getting into the tank
  • A pump may be needed if the tank is linked to a dripper system in the garden and/or a fitting in the house such as a toilet (if gravity can't do the work)
  • A first flush diverter can improve water quality in the tank by preventing the first flush of rainwater from the roof gutters (thay may contain leaves etc) from entering the tank (not sure if a diverter is needed if the water is not for drinking)
  • Tanks, covers, plumbing pipes and fittings should be light proof to minimise the chances of algal growth in the tank water
  • The tank system needs to be maintained eg regularly checking gutters are clean, checking rainwater is not ponding in roof gutters, desludging the tank when needed (not sure how often this would need to be done)
  • Plumbing approval and special standards are needed if the tank delivers water to taps, fixtures or appliances in the house and, in this case, ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) needs to be notified (I presume the plumber installing the tank organises this?)

Anyway, I really suggest you read the ACT Government's guidelines and the rebates information before you install the tank.

7:42 pm
March 15, 2010



posts 456

Update on tank installation:

After a lot of research, I decided to purchase Poly slimline water tanks. Recently they were delivered … but guess what!! There was only one person, the truck driver, supplied to take the tanks off the truck. Of course that meant he could not move them to the relevant spot where they needed to be installed.

Do you know where they ended up? On the footpath leading to my front door!! Getting to the door was like inching my way alongside the Great Wall of China.

Luckily, a call to the distributors led to the tanks being moved to the right spot a couple of days later.

So if you plan to install tanks, it's a good idea to check even on such small details so you can be sure that delivery will be made to the exact spot where you need the tanks.

9:03 pm
April 14, 2010



posts 456

Post edited 2:09 am – April 15, 2010 by marea

Latest update:

The tank installation has almost been completed (there were some delays as the plumber and I were available at different times, and so the work had to be done in stages).

First, a foundation had to be established for the two tanks, so loose soil was removed down to the solid ground, and aggregate laid down. The slimline tanks were placed on top of this solid surface, a few metres apart and attached to different downpipes. First flush diverters were installed to get rid of the first flush of water from the gutters and so ensure leaf and other matter don't get into the tanks (I already have gutter guard and so wasn't sure I really needed the first flush diverters but thought it was better to be on the safe side). I hadn't realised before that these first flush diverters meant additional pipework. They are tucked away though and will look okay when all the pipes are painted the same colour as the wall.

However, due to the sloping ground, the tank further down the slope was raised onto concrete blocks and sleepers to make it level with the other tank. That enabled a similar water level in the two tanks once a connecting underground pipe was installed between the two tanks. Then the pump was installed next to one of the tanks, along with a tap to which I can attach a hose or drip system for watering the garden. There is a lot of water in the tanks already due to recent heavy rain.

The next steps are to get an electrician to install an external powerpoint for the pump, and for the plumber to connect the water tanks to the internal toilet so that I can use rainwater to flush the toilet. The idea is to use the rainwater to water the garden in the summer and flush the toilet in the other seasons. That connection of the water tanks to an internal appliance such as a toilet is also necessary to be able to claim a rebate under the ACT and federal Government rainwater tank rebate programs.

9:52 pm
May 4, 2010



posts 456

Latest update: I've been operating the rain tanks with the connection to the internal toilet for a couple of weeks now and it's great! With all the rain in the past month or so, and especially the big storm yesterday, the tanks are full.

The pump only comes on to refill the cistern when the toilet is flushed, and it doesn't make much noise.

So I expect to see a big reduction in my water use from now on.Laugh

5:58 am
May 18, 2010


New Member

posts 2

Hi Marea,

I installed a rain water tank a few years ago. The tank was fine but my submerged, stainless steel pump: 1. was very expensive (about $1,000)  2. cost even MORE to install. 3. was more noisy than we expected and 3. increased our energy use and 4. stopped working after a few months. We actually felt relief that it stopped. Frown

I thought, 'there MUST be a better way' and there is. We have been running two toilets successfully for the past 6 months on 100% rain water with NO pumping at all. How? First we replaced the old float valves in each cistern (toilet tank) with TWO new Fluidmaster float valves (one each side of the cistern. See diagram in the ACT Gov. water tank guidelines,  page 9 – so, yes, this is legal etc. One float valve is permanently connected to the mains and the other is permanently connected to the rainwater tank (with a stop cock in each case). These valves cost about $20 each from Bunnings – (Fluidmaster 400UK063).

Now for the tricky bit. Tank water is LOW PRESSURE. We only had about a meter of ‘head’ – max. That is seriously low pressure and not enough to operate the rubber flap in the Fluidmaster that we had installed. Then I noticed a small paragraph on the side of the box the Fluidmaster came in which indicated that a low pressure rubber flap was available. So I rushed off to Mitchell, bought one for a few bucks and it DIDN'T WORK!! Next I phoned Fluidmaster ‘s Australian help line 1800 808 179 and explained the problem. BINGO, they have a SUPER low pressure rubber flat. It worked perfectly!

So now my two toilets work fine until my rain water tank gets down to about half empty. After that, I could need to turn the mains back on, but I haven't had to yet! Note that with this low pressure set up, the refilling of the cistern is slower than with high pressure refilling and it is totally silent. 

Another thing that has helped my rainwater last so long (apart from many summer showers) is that I replaced the dual flush mechanisms with much simpler 'lift' knobs. The lift knob only allows water to pass while it is held up. Thus one only holds it up as long as is needed – which, according to Derek Wrigley – reduces water consumption to about 25% of the normal DUAL flush rate. I haven't done any measurement, but I can vouch that it is a big improvement on normal dual flush. Interestingly, an old, single flush cistern can be just as easily (or more easily) converted to a lift knob system. I can't imagine why we still can't buy a lift knob systems in the shops. 

Although this works well – with zero energy use and no noise, you will probably not find a plumber who believes it works. Good luck!Smile

7:12 pm
May 18, 2010



posts 456

Hi Bill,

That's very useful information. I wish I'd known about this option before I installed my tank. My pump is an external one rather than a submerged one, so it was a lot cheaper and hopefully will be easier to service if something goes wrong.

I must admit that even though the pump does not sound loud from the inside of the house, I probably need to check how loud it is from the outside.

Anyway, it's all a learning experience, and thanks for letting us know about your solution.Laugh

8:35 pm
June 21, 2010



posts 456

Well, I've been operating the water tanks a couple of months and they've been great. The only problem I've noticed lately is that the pump comes on sometimes for a short while even when I haven't flushed the toilet. I don't remember it happening before, although it could have been happening and I wasn't aware of it. It's a bit annoying when it does this at 1.00am, even though I only notice it if I'm awake at that time.

Any ideas why it could be doing this?

The only thing I can think of is that my set-up ensures both tanks have the same water level and so maybe there is some shifting of the water level during the day and night that leads the pump to get involved in restoring the balance. Confused

7:09 pm
June 23, 2010



posts 456

Post edited 4:09 pm – June 25, 2010 by marea

Well, it turned out that the problem with my water pump was that a small plastic component that screws the plastic pipe to the pump had a hairline crack. So water was spurting out of the crack, and the loss of water was prompting the pump to come back on regularly.

I called the pump suppliers and they came pronto and fixed it this morning for free because the pump was still under warranty. So it's all good again.

I'm also happy to report that after receiving my water bill recently I can see that my water use has gone down very considerably since the last bill, and that's all due to the water tanks. So it's all been worth it despite the occasional glitches on the way.Smile

1:35 am
July 13, 2010



posts 456

Oh no! Guess what! The watertank pump was working continuously today, so I went to see what was going on.

Sure enough, there is a hairline crack in a plastic screw connecting the hose on the other side of the pump from last time, and so water is spurting out of there. This is causing the pump to work non-stop. I can't believe the same problem is happening twice in the space of a month. Anyway, the distributor is very helpful and is coming over in the next couple of days to fix it.

The moral of the story is to look very carefully at all the components when you buy and install your pump (mind you, I don't think I would have been able to tell the difference anyway between a good and bad connector).Surprised

10:27 pm
August 4, 2010



Very good information from Marea regarding tanks and installation experiences. I work for a local water tank supplier and my experiences in the industry is that there is more to a water tank installation then most customers are aware of. Some few points to consider if interested in purchasing a water tank with installation to either garden or house and garden:

1. Think about the use for the water – some people have the idea of the tank but do not have the idea of use for the water. This may greatly change the type of system and increase or decrease the costs involved.

2. Research as much about the products involved. I have found a well informed customer appreciates the benefits of a water tank system and also is happier with having their own system

3. Most systems will require plumbing and electrical charges, especially with systems connected to electric pumps and internal plumbing connections. These charges can be quite high, so take the time to budget for a system.

4. Make sure you have access for the tank to be delivered to the area you wish to place it. I personally have been out on site helping deliver a tank that had to be lifted over fences and through neighbours yards etc. This increases the risk of the tank and property being damaged.

5. Finally, ask questions to your suppliers. Most suppliers will be very helpful and are willing to take the time to help you understand the system and what work is to be conducted. Sometimes customers will go ahead with a quote and be suprised by certain aspects of the job that they were not aware of, even though it is written on the quote. This can lead to confusion and negative relationships between the parties invovled. I wish for my customers to be happy with helping the environment and their own wallet, so i try to explain everything that will occur with a system installation.

3:00 am
August 5, 2010



Rain water signs: In the ACT Gov booklet on rainwater (towards the back) there are graphics of the signs we are supposed to place beside rain water taps. When I made extensive enquiries  about 2 years ago, nobody (incl. the various ACT Gov. agencies involved)  had a clue as to where such signs could be obtained. Anyone know?

No. I don't want the nonsense sign which says "Rainwater used here"! That is like saying "I will give you up to a million dollars". Bill.

12:08 am
August 11, 2010



The 'Rainwater – Do Not Drink' Signs can normally be picked up from a plumbing store or hardware store.

12:59 am
August 21, 2010


New Member

posts 2

hiiiii….i am a new to this forum… i am here for searching some water tanksKiss..please give me your suggession…:)

9:40 pm
August 21, 2010



posts 456

Post edited 2:42 am – August 22, 2010 by marea
Post edited 3:04 am – August 22, 2010 by marea

Hi pansy22,

Welcome to the water tanks forum.

I'm not an expert on water tanks, but can just speak from my experience of installing a couple of tanks this year.

I think the first thing to do is make sure you know about the Government regulations on water tanks and how you can get rebates for installing them. In the first post on this forum, I summarised what the situation is in the ACT and provided a link to where you can get more information.

If you want to get money back from the ACT and Australian Governments, I think the rule is still that you need to make sure the water tank is connected to a fixture in the house like a toilet or washing machine. So you'll need to get a licensed plumber to do this and he/she will get the necessary approvals.

As for the type of water tank, it depends on how much space you have on your property. I ended up buying slimline tanks, but they tend to be more expensive than the ordinary round water tanks.

The climateXchange Canberra Green Directory has the names of a few Canberra suppliers of water tanks such as Enviro-friendly Products and Get Tanked (see here), but there are many others in the Canberra market. I would suggest you shop around to see what best serves your needs and budget. You can either get the tank suppliers to do the full installation or else just buy the tanks from them and get someone else to install them.

Make sure you consider some of the issues mentioned in earlier posts on this forum as they can alert you to some of the possible pitfalls to avoid.

Good luckSmile

11:29 am
January 27, 2013



posts 60

I didn't claim any rebate on my water tank installation a few years' ago now. I recall at the time you could only get a rebate if, as another member above has pointed out, you were going to use it for flushing toilets, laundry use etc & retrofitting my house was going to be so costly it wasn't worth the time. But, I didn't find installing at my own cost a 2000 litre tank all that prohibitive. If you compared the savings on using rainwater to mains water, actually I probably would take many years to make a saving, that's not why I did it. I did it, because I wanted to minimise my use of mains water for drinking & use what was free to rationalise garden use – which I have done. I have a pump, which for some odd reason pumps out at such a high volume that I don't use it.

A tip for the unaware – get a pump that has variable running speeds on it.

Otherwise, I simply run a hose from the tank, which is in my carport, to my garden & let plain old gravity make the water run out. It's not quick, but it does the job. I have a sloping yard & the tank is on the highest point, but the gradient isn't great, so just a little slope is enough to use gravity feed.

I used Get Tanked & very happy with them, but as Marea commented there are a lot of suppliers around. I just chose the installer based on how helpful they were on full installation. There's huge diversity of tanks these days. Always easy to go have a look see at all the different models & sizes. I am actually thinking of installing a small one out front with a filter for drinking quality water…

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