May 24

Is rainwater safe to drink?

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Is it safe to drink water from a rainwater tank?

While there are a number of factors that will impact the quality of drinking water stored in your rainwater tank, for the majority of Australia the answer is yes.

A
well-maintained rainwater tank that is suitable for the storage of potable water will safely store drinking water, keeping it free from contaminants or unwanted bacteria.

However, as suggested above, whether or not you can use rainwater for drinking depends on a number of risk factors including where you live, what you are using as a rainwater harvesting system for drinking water, what you are using to store your rainwater and how long it is being stored.

It is important for your health and safety, and to prevent any unwanted illness in your household that you observe best practices for rainwater harvesting and storage, and follow state and local government guidelines.

Anyone who grew up on a rural property will attest that no water will quench your thirst quite like pure, fresh rainwater straight from nature, so it is no wonder people are looking at how to store rainwater for drinking purposes.

Continue reading to learn how you can make sure your rainwater is safe for drinking, best practices for
rainwater collection for drinking water, and how to keep your water free of any parasites, bacteria or unwanted contamination that may impact your water quality.

How to collect rainwater to drink

The first thing to do is to ensure that your rainwater harvesting area is clear and free of pollutants. This means ensuring that your roof or shed is free from animal droppings, leaves and branches, doesn't house vermin and that you aren't located in an area with high air pollution, industrial or agricultural activities, or where there is smoke or other emissions from bushfires or wood heaters.


The roof material is also important and rainwater can be safely harvested from most common roofing types including Colorbond® and Zincalume® steel, cement, terracotta tiles, galvanised iron, polycarbonate sheeting, fibreglass and slate tiles. It is important not to harvest your drinking rainwater from a roof or other sources that are made from treated wood, coated with bituminous products or lead paints, or any part of the roof that has a chimney from a wood burner, discharge pipes from air conditioners or hot water systems or lead-based paints or flashings.

It is good practice to ensure you are regularly clearing out your gutters, and removing any overhanging branches or other organic materials that may impact your rainwater harvesting environment.

Steps to ensure the quality of drinking water entering your tank

  • Keep catchment area and other parts of your harvesting system clean and clear of leaves, branches and debris
  • Cover the inlet and overflow of your water tank with mesh, or use a filter basket and flap valve
  • Ensure light cannot enter your rainwater storage as exposure to UV can lead to algae
  • Use a first flush diverter to prevent dust, dirt and other contamination from entering the tank after a dry spell
  • Ensure that all pipework is self-draining to prevent corrosion or contamination
  • Maintain your leaf trap or leaf filter baskets
  • Ensure no animals or birds have easy access to your rainwater harvesting system or downpipes

If you live in an urban area and want to use rainwater tanks for drinking water, it is a good idea to have your water supply tested for pollution or contamination before using it for drinking purposes. 


Rainwater tanks in rural areas are deemed safe for drinking water by all state authorities, provided you are taking care with the collection and storage of your rainwater.


If you are unsure, check your state government website for guidance regarding the harvesting and storage of rainwater for household use.

How to store rainwater for drinking

Installing the best rainwater tank for drinking water

Once you have ensured that you are collecting safe water, it is important to store it in an environment that is going to keep your water fresh, clean and healthy.

There are a wide range of materials rainwater tanks can be manufactured in that are appropriate for drinking water, provided that the tanks have been manufactured in accordance with AS/NZS-4020 and are safe for use with drinking water.

These materials include concrete, fibreglass, steel and plastic.

The most popular water tank materials are polyethylene - poly tanks or plastic tanks - and
steel liner tanks.

If you are on a small block and only need a minor amount of water storage, then a plastic tank may be your best option, but steel tanks become more economical the more water storage you need.

Ensuring your tank has an appropriate insect seal can be important to prevent your rainwater tanks from becoming breeding sites for mosquitoes or other insects, which can bring with them diseases or other issues.

water tank installed in welshpool WA

How to make rainwater safe to drink - additional accessories

Water Tank Accessories

Once your water is in your tank, particularly with steel rainwater tanks, there are accessories and add-ons that can help keep your stored rainwater safer for drinking purposes.

Dustproofing and Vermin Protection
Installing a protective seal at the top of the tank - particularly in areas more prone to mosquitoes or other insects - is an important part of preventing contaminants from entering your rainwater tank and keeping it safe for drinking.

superseal

Aqualiner Fresh® Antimicrobial Water Tank Liner
Exclusive to Pioneer Water Tanks is the Aqualiner Fresh® water tank liner, designed to prevent the build-up of algae or bacteria within the water tank.

This revolutionary product utilises Sanitized® technology to actively work to keep your stored drinking water fresher from the inside of your tank.

First Flush Diverter
Installing a first flush diverter or similar pipe gate is a great way to prevent any dust, dirt or particulate buildup that may have settled on your roof or pipes from entering your water tank during the first significant rainfall after any particularly long dry spells.

How to filter rainwater for drinking

While rainwater tanks are usually completely safe to drink after the above steps have been followed, if you want to increase the effectiveness, another way to treat rainwater for drinking is to install a filtration system.

It is unnecessary to install this system directly on the water tank itself, and you would only need to install a water filter on any kitchen taps, or other places it is essential for the drinking water to be clear of any particles or other substances.

Another method of ensuring your rainwater is clean, and a more traditional treatment for safe water consumption that humans have used everywhere on earth for generations in food preparation, is by boiling the rainwater first.

Is rainwater healthy to drink?

Health benefits of rainwater

While there is limited evidence regarding the health benefits of drinking rainwater, water sourced from rain contains less chemicals than tap water, as town water supply contains many additives - such as chlorine and fluoride - that kill any contaminants and keep it safe while it is being delivered.

Rainwater, however, doesn't contain these additives, and is considered a soft water source and has a lower pH level. This makes rainwater
better for washing clothes, watering plants, and even washing your hair, as it is more likely to remove the levels of these chemicals that can build up over time.

The low chemical content is also the reason a lot of people simply prefer the taste of rainwater to tap water, and as we all know - mental health often leads to better physical health.

Rainwater vs Tap Water for drinking

Town or scheme water is the recommended drinking water supply for all homes according to state and federal regulations in Australia, however there are many communities around the country who don't have access to a reliable water supply.

If you are located in such a community, then your best and safest drinking water supply is rainwater, even if you need to rely on bore or dam water for your other tap water in the bathroom or laundry.

How to turn rainwater into drinking water at home

If you would like to turn your rainwater into drinking water supply at your home, contact the friendly and helpful team at Pioneer Water Tanks today for advice, information and assistance.

Pioneer Water Tanks is an Australian owned and operated business that has been helping rural families and farms with water storage solutions or more than 30 years.

With industry-leading water storage solutions, award-winning design, and a 20 year warranty, its no wonder Pioneer Water Tanks are leading the way in water.


For more information or pricing on world-class water storage today, call 1800 999 599 or fill out our form online, and we'll be in touch shortly.

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