Council along with Queensland Health considers the provision of safe drinking water supplies an essential prerequisite for the health of all Queenslanders. While Council largely focuses on reticulated water supply in the region we also recognise that there are many areas of South Burnett which rely on private drinking water supplies sourced from rain, bore or surface water.
Queensland Health provides guidance about public health and the use of rainwater tanks. They advise a number of key items to keep in mind when using Rain Water Tanks:
- Roof-harvested rainwater can become contaminated from a range of sources including animals.
- Recommends residents with access to reticulated or town water supplies should use these supplies for drinking, personal hygiene and food preparation, rather than rainwater.
- Roof-harvested rainwater may be used for flushing toilets, laundry, watering gardens and lawns as these uses generally present low risk.
- Recommends residents without access to reticulated or town water supplies should consider implementing appropriate control measures to ensure the safety of their rainwater.
- This should include complying with the design and maintenance recommendations provided in the Australian guidelines above.
The Australian Government has developed a guideline for drinking water and the use of rain water. This guideline provides information about how to manage and prevent the risks associated with drinking water from Rain Water Tanks.
Under the Queensland Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, the property owner must maintain plumbing and drainage on their property. This includes all apparatus, fittings or pipes for supplying water to the premises from a service provider’s infrastructure or from a water storage tank and for moving water within a premise.
Some recommendations to ensure your tank is being maintained please find below:
- keep your roof clear of large tree branches overhanging your house roof and tank
- keep gutters and downpipes clear of leaves and debris
- check inlet and overflow screens are securely in place and cleaned regularly
- install a first flush diverter which stops the initial flow of water from your roof from entering the tank
- open and cleaning out first flush devices after rain events
- check the tank and fittings regularly for leaks
- replace cartridges in water filters and chemicals or components in water treatment units strictly according to manufacturer’s instructions or engage a Licensed Plumber on a maintenance schedule.
- check sludge levels in the bottom of the tank every two to three years or if you notice any sediment in the water
- remove sludge before the layer builds to the level of the tank outlet – usually once every five to ten years
- avoid using harsh cleaning products that may contaminate your rainwater
Do not enter the tank as this is dangerous and should be left to professionals.
All tanks should be examined for the accumulation of sediments every 2-3 years, or if sediment is evident in the water flow. Accumulated sediments can be a source of chemical contamination and off-tastes and odours.
Sludge can be removed by siphoning without emptying the tank. To do this, use an inverted funnel in the end of a hose and move it carefully across the bottom of the tank. The sludge, plus the lower portion of water in the tank, can be released to waste. If leaves and coarser debris are present in the sludge, a siphon hose of approximately 50 mm diameter should be used.
Sludge may also be pumped from the tank with minimum loss of water by using a suitable motor-operated pump and attachments.
Finally, sludge can also be removed by draining and cleaning the tank. If a drain plug is provided at the base of the tank, water can be run to waste to discharge the sludge. Once the tank is empty, the remaining sludge can be scooped up and removed through the access opening. Care should be taken not to disturb the protective film on the inside surface of the tank.
Tank cleaning businesses (generally listed in telephone directories) may also be available to desludge tanks.
Organic material removed from the tank may be disposed of in the garden by spreading and digging into garden beds. Environment protection agencies should be consulted about off-site disposal.
Direct contact between different metals or run-off from one metal surface to another can cause accelerated corrosion or holes when metals are wet. Metal roofing materials, roof accessories, gutters, screens, piping and steel rainwater tanks can cause or be affected by corrosion.
Mosquitoes breed if they get inside a tank or systems where water does not drain from pipes, gutters and plumbing. Mosquitoes can carry diseases like Ross River and Dengue Fever.
You can stop mosquitoes breeding in your rainwater tank by:
- ensuring there is no debris in the tank
- installing guttering that stops water pooling
- ensuring water does not pool on the tank lid
- sealing all entry routes to the tank including inlet and overflow pipes with mosquito-proof screens
- have openings less than one millimetre squared
- be made of stainless steel or aluminum
If you find mosquito larvae or wrigglers inside the tank, you can destroy them by adding a small amount of liquid paraffin or edible kitchen oil to form a thin film on the surface of the water. This stops any hatched mosquitoes flying off. Find out how the mosquitos got into the tank and seal off the entry route.
Buying Water for your Water Tanks
When buying spring or other water for your Tanks at home it is imperative you be vigilant. There are some key items to be aware of when purchasing your next load of water:
- Check that the water carrier business is licensed with Council prior to ordering.
- When ordering a load, ask where the water will come from. All water carriers are required to obtain water from an approved source.
- Clean out any sediment in your tank with any remaining water as this will be stirred up when filling the tanks and may give the water an unpleasant taste or odour. Be aware that scrubbing the sides of your tank may add an unpleasant taste or odour to the water.
- Check truck delivering the water for a License number and a “DRINKING WATER ONLY” sign. If you have any doubts about the water or the business please contact Council.
- Other tips before accepting a load of water is to ask for a sample before accepting the load. The water should be clear, however, it may taste of chlorine if it has come from a treated supply. If the water is not clear and has a taste other than chlorine, do not accept the load.
- After the water has been delivered you notice an undesirable taste, it could be due to the mixing of sediment, sludge and algae from within your tank. If possible, allow the water to settle for 24-48 hours before using for drinking. Any taste of chlorine should go after a couple of days in a well-ventilated tank.
- Sometimes organic material in your tank can cause reactions, such as iodine, chloramines, trihalomethanes, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide which cause a very unpleasant taste and odour. You may have received a number of loads from a water carrier in the past and this problem did not occur. This is because it is dependent on the organic content and algae in your tank. You may even notice this odour while you are showering.
Some Councils offer a water sampling service, for a fee, to test water for bacterial, chemical, pesticide and heavy metal contamination.
The sale of water (i.e. water carrier)
If you want to provide water to the public you must hold a Food Business License with the relevant Local Government that you are obtaining the water from. Please refer to the Food Business License Information on the website.
Two types of Licenses:
Water carriers transporting drinking water are regulated under the Food Act 2006 and require a food business licence from Council.
Water carriers transporting water for non-drinking purposes are regulated under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Council provides a sampling service to residential and commercial properties where their main drinking water supply is not reticulated i.e. Rain, spring or Bore water.
The standard sampling service provided, for a fee, includes bacterial and standard analysis. Further testing can be done if requested for chemical, pesticide and heavy metal contamination.
Please contact the Environment & Waste Services Department for further information on phone: (07) 4189 9100.
Tank Water Forms