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Rainwater tanks a viable urban water solution

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Rainwater tanks a viable urban water solution

A new study shows rainwater tanks are a cost-effective solution to the urban water problems plaguing Melbourne, Sydney and South-East Queensland.

The report – prepared by economists Marsden Jacobs Associates for the Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Victoria and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW – found the widespread installation of rainwater tanks in Australian capital cities would mean big savings in water, energy and money.

The study found:

Rainwater tanks are cost competitive with dams and desalination plants.

Rainwater tanks are five times more energy efficient than desalination plants and twice as energy efficient as the proposed Traveston dam, per megalitre of water produced.

If Governments deployed rainwater tanks to 5 per cent of households each year in Sydney and South-East Queensland, dams and desalination plants planned for 2010 could be delayed past 2026 (Sydney) and 2019 (SEQ).

Most Australian houses are suitable for a rainwater tank. In Sydney 65 per cent (or 1.1 million houses), in SEQ 73 per cent (or 900 000 houses) and in Melbourne 72 per cent of existing houses have potential for a rainwater tank.

“While 38 per cent of households in Adelaide have rainwater tanks, fewer than 6 per cent of the houses in Melbourne, Sydney, South-East Queensland and Perth do,” said ACF’s urban water campaigner Kate Noble.

“Rainwater tanks collect and store water far more efficiently than dams, especially in times of drought. As the climate changes we should be installing tanks to take advantage of the rain that does fall on our rooftops.

“If Governments systematically installed rainwater tanks in Australia’s major cities, we would secure as much water as the planned Kurnell desalination plant in Sydney, the Tugan desalination plant on the Gold Coast and the stage one of the unpopular Traveston Dam proposed for Queensland’s Mary River,” Ms Noble said.

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