Rainwater Tanks…. Maintaining Clean Water

It is now 6 years since the water management crisis in South-East Queensland was at its peak. Rainwater tanks were 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 is now beginning to bite. This has lead to a situation where government agencies are picking up the pieces of repairing bad policy.

Fortunately there has been some great 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 with regards to maintenance and the plumbing technicians at Whywait Plumbing Services see this issue constantly:

  • Poorly maintained or completely failed rain water tanks are everywhere
  • Pumps that no longer work are commonplace
  • Leaking rainwater tanks are common place.

Rainwater tank systems are generally low maintenance but they are most definitely not maintenance free. Regular routine maintenance of a rainwater tank is required to maintain the life expectancy of the infrastructure and to ensure compliance under 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 mosquito’s. All rainwater tanks must be fitted at all times with:

  • inlet strainers that are 1mm or less to prevent mosquito’s entering the tank
  • All overflows must be installed with a high flow flap valve which automatically close and seal when not in use to prevent mosquito’s entering the tank.

The recommended maintenance required plus the routine regularity is listed below:

  •  3 months: remove debris from gutters, downpipes & first flush devices. Check insect screens on rainwater heads & overflow outlets are debris free, intact & in good condition.
  • 6 months: check roof & flashing’s, remove overhanging branches & repair any defects. Check for signs of mosquito’s & larvae plus any evidence of animal, bird or insect access. Check for algal growth & if detected locate & seal light entry point. Check tank, fittings & pump for any leaks or defects & repair.
  • 12 months: check integrity of tank support base, check pumps & solenoid valves along with all plumbing bypass or backup systems & repair as necessary.
  • 24 months: check level of sediment in tank along with water quality. Generally accumulated sediment should be removed from the tank at intervals not exceeding 3 years.

If you are no longer using your rainwater tank then you are required to cut it up and remove it from site. It cannot be allowed to become a mosquito breeding site or a home for vermin such as rats or mice.

Finally a word of warning. Many property owners are unaware that in Queensland that if you fail to maintain your rainwater tank in a constant status of it being mosquito proof you can receive an on the spot fine of $320.

For more information on storing water please call us at Whywait Plumbing Services today.

By Gary Mays

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