When choosing to purchase and install a rainwater tank in Victoria, you should understand rules and regulations at all three levels of governments – your local council, the State of Victoria and National guidelines. Many rainwater tank requirements are common sense and easy to comply with. If worried, this article is intended to help you (a Victorian resident) understand your obligations.
Rainwater Tanks in New Homes and Building Projects
Australia’s National Construction Code provides the minimum necessary requirements for safety, health, amenity and sustainability in the design and construction of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) throughout Australia.
The Victorian Building Authority requires all new homes, home renovations, alterations and additions need to comply with the Six-Star Standard in the National Construction Code. In relation to rainwater tanks this means:
- having a minimum rain catchment area of 50m2,
- having a minimum capacity of 2000 litres, and
- plumbing into your rainwater to be used for toilets.
Do note, that complying with the Six-Star Standard is a requirement for new homes and building projects that require a building permit. We highly recommended that you consult your builder who ought to be aware of and have a copy of the code.
Safety Requirements for Rainwater Tanks
While capturing rainwater from your roof is a great way to supply water for a range of purposes including washing clothes, flushing toilets and watering your garden, it is important that you take proper safety precautions especially if you intend to drink your rainwater.
Your harvested rainwater may be contaminated with harmful microorganisms from animal droppings on roofs. Ensuring high quality water depends upon correct tank design and installation and maintenance of your rainwater tank and catchment area.
In relation to rainwater safety, The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning state that when installing rainwater tanks:
- “Every access point, except the inlet and overflow, should be sealed. If an access point is left uncovered, there’s a risk of children, adults and animals drowning or contaminating the water.”
- “The inlet should incorporate a mesh cover and a strainer to keep out foreign matter and to stop mosquitoes and other insects getting into the tank.”
- “The overflow should also be covered with an insect-proof screen.”
- “You should not use a rainwater tank to supplement or provide your main source of drinking water if you live in an area affected by heavy traffic, industry, incinerators and/or smelters.”
Local Councils in Victoria
When installing your rainwater tank you should check with your local council about any regulations you might need to comply with. Victorian councils may require:
- Rainwater tanks need to be plumbed in by a licensed plumber who can issue a plumbing compliance certificate.
- Overflow of water appropriately directed to your storm water drain.
- Allocating space in your rainwater tank for detaining storm water.
- Allocating space in your rainwater tank to retain water for fighting fires.
- Your rainwater tanks to be screened from the street or not unsightly if visible.
- Be placed 500mm or more from neighbouring properties.