For people living in rural areas of Australia, it is common to collect and store rainwater, as in the majority of cases, treated water is not available. This collection of rainwater is a common practice, although it is not without its hazards. While it is true to state that the rainwater that falls initially is pure, problems can arise if the tank that it is stored in is not properly maintained. This article looks at some of the dangers associated with a poorly maintained water tank, and offers some suggestions on how to keep your water tank in a good condition.
Rainwater is collected from an area - usually a roof – and diverted into the tank to be stored for later use. If you do not have the correct equipment in place, this means that the water going into the tank could become contaminated. Some of the contaminates that can find their way into your tank include:
- Dropping from birds and other animals, such as possums, as they pass or rest on the roof used for collecting rainwater
- Contaminates from the roof material itself, such as lead based paint or bitumen roofing
- Small animals that have found their way into your water tank and died, if your tank is not properly sealed
- Microbes and pathogens that can enter the tank from other debris, such as leaves.
It is always a good idea to fit a very high quality water filter to the access point of the tank. In most cases, this will prevent most contaminates from being present in the water you draw from the tank. First flush systems are also a good idea; this is when the first of the rainwater collected is diverted away from the tank, allowing the second flow of rainwater to enter. This will reduce the amount of contaminates entering the tank. If you cover all open ports to the tank with tight mesh, this will reduce the number of insects, such as mosquitos, from entering the tank.
Maintaining the tank is vital. Every few months, you should do the following:
- Clean the gutters and roof where the rainwater is collected
- Remove the branches of overhanging trees close to the collection area
- Check the condition of the mesh covering the open ports of the tank
- Visually check the inside of the tank for dead animals or insects
You should also clean the tank every couple of years, removing the build up of sludge at the base of the tank. This can either be done by hand, or by using a siphoning hose and pump. For more information, check out companies such as Williams & Jackson.