Many customers use a rainwater tank just to water their garden and do not have any plumbing work over the top of the tank as a back up water supply. For cases such as these, where there is no type of connection between mains water's water supply and the tank, you do not require installation approval from your water authority.
However, some customers choose to connect their tank to internal plumbing, for example to supply a toilet or washing machine. Because this will usually require a back up water supply to the tank (in the event of low rainfall), these customers will normally have a 'top up' connection from the mains water supply.
For cases like this, or if there is any other type of connection between your tank and mains water supply, you will need to have a licensed plumber install your tank. Your plumber should be aware of requirements which will need to be met including having a visible air gap between the water supply and your tank and an appropriate backflow prevention device fitted at your meter.
For the vast majority of residential customers, their water authority will supply and install such a device for free.
These requirements are needed to minimise any risk of water from your tank flowing into the public water supply.
If your tank has a capacity of 10,000 litres or over, you will also need to get your water authority approval to ensure that it is not built over any water authorites structure or easement.
In all cases, stormwater overflow from rainwater tanks must be directed to the stormwater drainage system and not the sewerage system.
Rainwater tanks with a capacity of 10,000 litres or less generally don't need council development approval, but will still be subject to certain council requirements. For example some councils have location, colour and/or noise control requirements for tanks. Please consult your local council before installing a rainwater tank.
First flush devices, screens and guards
It's also a good idea to install appropriate screens and guards to stop debris and insects entering the tank. Installing a first flush device is essential for reducing the amount of sediment and other materials entering the tank and polluting the water. Screens and gutter guards offer further protection by stopping insects and debris entering the tank.
Water pressure issues
If you always need to have water available in your rainwater tank, you will occasionally need to top up your tank. When you are topping up your tank, you will need a flow restrictor installed on the piping. This will ensure the water pressure supplied to your neighbours is not affected when you are filling your tank. Your plumber can advise of the requirements for topping up your tank.
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