Rainwater Tanks… Maintaining Clean Water
It is now six years since the water management crisis in South-East Queensland was at its peak. Rainwater tanks were the flavour of the month and were being sold and installed by every man and his dog, aided and abetted by generous subsidies from the Queensland Government.
Unfortunately, the panic by the Queensland Government at the time and the relaxation of standards with countless shoddy installations are now beginning to bite. This has led to a situation where government agencies are picking up the pieces to repair lousy policy.
Fortunately, there have been some significant publications and research undertaken by the Environmental Health Committee (enHealth) of the Australian Health Protection Committee, which has published an excellent publication called “Guidance on Use of Rainwater Tanks”, which we advise you to download and read if you have a rainwater tank by clicking here.
Rainwater tanks in an urban environment were always going to be an issue concerning maintenance, and the plumbing technicians at Whywait Plumbing Services see this issue constantly:
- Poorly maintained or completely failed rainwater tanks are everywhere
- Pumps that no longer work are commonplace
- Leaking rainwater tanks are commonplace.
Rainwater tank systems are generally low maintenance, but they are not maintenance-free. Routine rainwater tank maintenance is required to maintain the life expectancy of the infrastructure and ensure compliance with the Public Health Act.
Maintaining your rainwater tank is your responsibility as the property owner. The biggest threat posed is the potential to create a health risk in the tank, becoming a breeding site for mosquitoes. All rainwater tanks must be fitted at all times with the following:
- Inlet strainers that are 1mm or less to prevent mosquitoes from entering the tank
- All overflows must be installed with a high-flow flap valve that automatically closes and seals when not in use to prevent mosquitoes from entering the tank.
The recommended maintenance required, plus the routine regularity, are listed below:
- Three months: remove debris from gutters, downpipes & first flush devices. Check insect screens on rainwater heads & overflow outlets are debris free, intact & in good condition.
- Six months: check roof & flashing’s, remove overhanging branches & repair any defects. Check for signs of mosquitoes & larvae, plus any evidence of animal, bird or insect access. Check for algal growth & if detected, locate & seal the light entry point. Check tank, fittings & pump for any leaks or defects & repair.
- Twelve months: check the integrity of the tank support base, check pumps & solenoid valves along with all plumbing bypass or backup systems & repair as necessary.
- Twenty-four months: check the sediment level in the tank and water quality. Generally, accumulated sediment should be removed from the tank at intervals not exceeding three years.
If you are no longer using your rainwater tank, you must cut it up and remove it from the site. It cannot be allowed to become a mosquito breeding site or a home for vermin such as rats or mice.