January 18

Is Collecting Rainwater Illegal in Australia?

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Is Rainwater Harvesting Illegal in Australia?

Rainwater harvesting is the practice of collecting and storing rainwater for later use, typically in rainwater tanks. This can be done for a variety of purposes, such as irrigation, flushing toilets, and even drinking. In Australia, rainwater harvesting is legal in all states and territories. 

However, there are certain regulations and guidelines that must be followed to ensure that the collected rainwater is safe for use. This harvested water is stored in rain barrels or a rainwater tank, most commonly large steel water tanks or smaller polyethylene water tanks.

People install rainwater tanks for a variety of reasons in Australia. Some install them for the benefits of fresh water without added chemicals, or to find savings on their water bills, while a large number of Australian households have no access to a mains water supply, and rely on rainwater tanks and dams to provide their home with reliable water.

The Importance of Rainwater Storage in Australia

Australia is known for its dry climate, and water scarcity is a major issue in many parts of the country. Rainwater harvesting can help to alleviate this problem by providing a reliable source of water for households and businesses. Additionally, it can also reduce the strain on municipal water systems and help to conserve water resources. In a nation where both floods and droughts are widespread, harvesting rainfall from your roof and gutters can help prevent the challenges associated with both of these environmental factors.

The more homes that have rainwater tanks and rainwater catchment systems installed, the less stormwater runoff can flow onto roads or footpaths during heavy downpours, and this collected rainwater can serve to help families have a reliable supply of harvested rainwater to supplement their water use during Australia's characteristically long, dry summers.

Regulations and Guidelines for Rainwater Harvesting

While rainwater harvesting is legal in Australia, there are certain regulations and guidelines that must be followed to ensure that your harvested rainwater is safe for use. For example, the water must be collected from a clean and safe source, such as a roof or gutter, and must be stored in a clean and safe container, such as a tank or cistern. Additionally, the water must be treated and tested to ensure that it is free of contaminants and safe for human consumption.

Each state will be likely to have different guidelines, so you should refer to your state government or local government's rainwater harvesting information page if you have any questions regarding council approval, water restrictions or filters or pumps that may be required for drinking water supply. States also vary on how much
water you can use on gardens or laws, even if you have harvested the water yourself and are storing it in a rainwater tank.

GT280 water tank in monument in the ACT

Building Codes and Permits

In some cases, building codes and permits may be required for the installation of a rainwater harvesting system. This is typically the case for larger systems, such as those used for irrigation or for commercial buildings. It is important to check with local authorities to determine what regulations and permits are required before installing a rainwater harvesting system.

Some new developments or housing associations even require a
specific rainwater tank size to be built with new homes, in order to support mains water systems, and to allow more household water to be used to tend to a garden or use in toilet flushing and washing machines without restrictions.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world; 70% of it is either arid or semi arid land. The arid zone is defined as areas which receive an average rainfall of 250mm or less.

Rainwater Tank Rebates and Incentives

Many areas, either state or local governments, often offer an incentive or rebate to encourage the installation of a water tank, both to ease the pressures on mains water supply and groundwater management, and to encourage better water conservation. These often require the tanks to be a certain capacity, or even have a certain volume of water set aside for assistance in bushfire conditions.

These incentives and rebates are sometimes also applicable to urban areas, though it is often recommended that any rain barrel or storage tank in areas with high vehicle traffic or pollutants isn't used for drinking water, as the water quality may be compromised.

Water Quality Standards

In order to ensure that the collected rainwater is safe for use, it is important to adhere to water quality standards. This includes regular testing and treatment of the water to remove any contaminants that may be present, and ensuring they come from sources that don't have any pollutants or chemicals that come in contact with them. For example, a simple first flush diverter can be installed to divert the first flush of water from your gutters and downpipes, which is more likely to contain contaminants such as bird droppings, dust and pollution from the roof, before it enters the tank.

Pioneer Water Tanks include an antimicrobial water tank liner - the Aqualiner Fresh® - which is an exclusive product that helps keep your stored rainwater clean once it has already entered your water tank. This is especially important if you are using your stored water for drinking water applications.

Health and Safety Considerations

When collecting and storing rainwater, it is important to consider the potential health and safety risks. For example, standing water can attract mosquitoes and other insects, which can carry diseases. Additionally, the water must be stored in a safe and clean container to prevent contamination. It is also important to ensure that the water is tested for contaminants and treated as necessary to ensure that it is safe for consumption.

If you are concerned about the quality of the water in your tank, you can have the water tested, and if necessary have your water tank cleaned by a professional.

Pioneer Water Tanks - Leading the way in water

Rainwater collection is legal in all states and territories in Australia. However, regulations and guidelines must be followed to ensure that the collected water is safe for use. This includes collecting water from a clean and safe source, storing it in a clean and safe container, and treating and testing the water to remove any contaminants. Additionally, building codes and permits may be required for the installation of a rainwater harvesting system. With proper planning and adherence to regulations, rainwater harvesting can be a valuable tool for conserving water resources and providing a reliable source of water for households and businesses.

Pioneer Water Tanks continue to be Australia's #1 big tank company, providing water storage for thousands of homes and farms across the country. 

A Pioneer Water Tank comes with a number of advantages, including:

Are you looking for a reliable water storage solution as an alternative to scheme water?


Pioneer Water Tanks is the brand for you. Call us today on 1800 999 599, and we'll get you in touch with your local Pioneer Water Tanks dealer.

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