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Water Tanks - water saving or financial drain?

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Water Tanks - water saving or financial drain?

by Megan Macpherson

The Queensland State Government mandates for all new homes to have water tanks installed as of March 1, 2006. This water saving legislation is a response to the nationwide drought affecting Australia, and it can be asked why not all homes be installed with water tanks to reduce the use of mains water. Councils have the option to amend their planning laws to mandate rain water tanks in all homes, but this is left to their discretion to best accommodate regional variances such as rainfall and economic status of the community. However mandating water tanks for new homes may not be the answer in terms of smart legislation. The Housing Industry Association has said that this is an uncessary financial burden on first home owners, and the government should be targeting commercial water use instead.

Housing Industry Association Queensland Executive Director Warwick Temby spoke about this issue, in July 2006. “The recently introduced State Government Sustainable Building Legislation affecting all new Queensland homes approved already targets the areas for biggest water savings within the average Queensland home.

“Any additional legislation should focus on the other sectors that are big water users,” Mr Temby said.

“It is disappointing, especially for first home buyers that the Queensland Opposition has chosen to adopt as a priority the proven inefficient mandatory rainwater tank option for all new homes. It only targets a small percentage of the community, at significant cost and for little benefit.”

Despite perhaps not being the most critical water saving measure pressing the Queensland Government at the moment, there is no doubt that water tanks do save water. The use of rain water caught via roof and guttering systems can be utilised in washing machines, toilets, pools, and gardens, therefore saving mains water. Water tanks should be something all State Governments make mandatory as a commitment to saving water over the long term, and addressing the way Australians consider water as a resource. Though there are incentives to install water tanks, such as rebates which vary according to the state which you reside, and the size of water tank.

For example, Sydney water offers rebates of $150 for a tank with a capacity of 2000 – 3,999 litres, $400 for a tank with capacity of 4,000 – 6,999 litres, and $500 for a tank with a capacity of 7,000 litres or more. An additional $150 is available if a toilet and/or washing machine is connected to the rainwater tank.

In Queensland, a rebate of up to $1000 is available for the purchase and installation of home water storage which is for indoor or outdoor use such as to fill a swimming pool, with no minimum tank size requirements.

In Perth, a “Waterwise” Rebate of $50 is available for the purchase and installation of new tanks with a capacity greater than 600 litres which are used for domestic purposes. A maximum $500 rebate or 50% of the plumbing cost (whichever is the lesser amount) is available for tanks with a capacity greater than 2,000 litres if they are plumbed in by a licensed plumber for use in your toilet and/or washing machine when installed.

An option for homes with little space for tank is the under ground, or under the house water tank. One brand is the Rain Reviva, which have a range of rain sacs which are installed under your house and come in 2,200 to 7,000 litre capacities. The capacity can be increased by installing an additional tank without incurring the cost of a full kit. Full kits range from $2,300 to $3,290.

Rain Cycle is another brand which are installed underground, and are either reinforced concrete or polyethylene. Tanks come in three sizes; 5,500, 8,500 and 10,000, however water collection capacity can be increased with extra interconnecting tanks.

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