It's important to maintain your rainwater tank and components so that they work effectively and reduce the risk of contamination. Preventing problems before they arise will save you time, money and water.
Roofs and gutters
Gutters and roof catchment areas should be regularly inspected and kept clean and clear of leaves and debris. Any overhanging branches should be removed. It's a good idea to use screens or guards, and these should also be regularly cleaned. Keeping your rainwater screened and flowing cleanly and quickly from your catchment area into your tank reduces the build up of sludge as well as the risk of mosquitoes breeding in your tank.
Check your tank for sludge at least every two to three years. If sludge is covering the bottom of the tank, it will need to removed by siphoning it out or completely emptying the tank (a professional tank cleaner will do this). Excessive sludge build up is a sign of inadequate roof and gutter maintenance.
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.
Water Quality Requirements (from Sydney Water)
As rainwater falls from the sky, it's mostly free of micro organisms and other pollutants. However, during collection and storage, it's possible rainwater can become contaminated. For this reason, NSW Health doesn't advise using rainwater for drinking when there's an alternative mains water supply available. Find out more about rainwater tank health guidelines from NSW Health.
It's important to find out if your roofing materials or the paint used in your catchment areas could contaminate your tank water. Speak to your rainwater tank supplier about testing roofing materials. Good maintenance is the key to good water quality. Installing screens helps to keep physical contaminants out of your tank, as do first flush devices. Remember to regularly clean first flush devices, gutters and guards.
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