Choosing A Location For Your Rainwater Tank

Digging Water Tank Site

So you’ve made a decision to buy a water tank and you know what tank size to get, now you just need to figure out a good location for your tank. This is very important to consider before purchasing, since it is very likely the site of your tank will influence your tank size, shape and colour.

This article has been written to help first-time tank owners identify an appropriate location for their rainwater tank. There are five main considerations when choosing an ideal site for your tank:

  1. Council regulations
  2. Pipework and drainage
  3. Plumbing and water pressure
  4. Location space and tank dimensions
  5. Visual considerations

Council Regulations

Check with your local council for regulations to do with installing a rainwater tank. Some to be aware to often include placement and size of your water tank. For example:

  • Setback – councils often have setback rules (e.g., 1 metre distance from property lines)
  • View from street – some councils require your tank remain visually pleasing if it will be viewable from street
  • Tank size – if fitting a smaller tank beware that some councils may require you to increase the size of your tank for stormwater detention or fire-fighting purposes (if in a bushfire prone area).

Plumbing and Water Pressure

Some practical reasons for why you will want your tank sited closer to your house or where water will be utilised:

  • Plumbing – if you’ll be plumbing rainwater into your toilet, laundry and taps it makes sense to have your water tank within proximity of such areas to reduce the plumbing work required and cost thereof.
  • Higher ground – if your property is sloped and/or has high ground, it is possible you could benefit from a gravity fed system. That is, rather than having a pump pressurise your rainwater to where it is needed, you make use of gravity to push water down.
  • Pump pressure – if your pump doesn’t need to pressurise water upwards as much, then you may not need an as powerful pump, or the pump your purchase will be able to better pressurise rainwater to where it is needed.

Pipework and Drainage

  • Downpipe – when rain falls on rooftops, it flows into gutters and down pipes. If you walk around your house, you’ll see vertical PVC pipes affixed to the side of your house. The closer your tank is to these downpipes, the easier it will be to install the pipework necessary which allows rainwater to flow into your tank.
  • Pipework – if you can’t locate your tank next to a downpipe, and wish to avoid unsightly above ground pipes (known as a “dry system”), an alternative is to run pipes underground to deliver rainwater into your tank (a “wet system”). Wet systems also allow you to tap into multiple downpipes for greater rainwater harvesting.
  • Drainage – your rainwater tank will have an overflow pipe which needs to be fed to the stormwater drainage on your property (or at least it should). If you install your tank near a downpipe, then you will likely find the drain directly below it.

Location Space and Tank Dimensions

Your range of options might be limited by appropriate space available and possible obstructions.

  • Height restrictions – can sometimes cause a problem if your desired tank is too high for an overpass. Some manufacturers will allow you to partially bury your tank (as is normally the case with AS4766 certified poly tanks), which allows you to reduce its height. Many also sell “squat” tank models, which are tanks with a lower height and wider diameter.
  • Narrow spaces – with ever decreasing property lot sizes, the result is often narrow spaces. This has made slimline tanks an increasingly popular option. Manufacturers may also make “tall” tank models which are narrower. Buying multiple smaller tanks is another alternative, which actually isn’t difficult to setup.
  • Limited surface space – if you have limit space above ground, then today under deck and underground tanks can be purchased. Some options can be installed under driveways (if not yet laid) or in your yard and require very little to install.
  • Pathways – if you have pathways going around your house you’ll obviously not want to obstruct them with your tank. Sometimes you can fit one or more slimline tanks on the inside of the path, placed up againt the external wall of your house. The other option is to place your tank on the outside of the path, running the pipework to it underground (in a “wet” pipewok system) or simply across the path overhead.

Visual Considerations

You obviously won’t want your rainwater tank looking out of place or be an eyesore in the location you choose. Some considerations include:

  • Tank colour – in the past there wasn’t the same range of tanks colours available that there are today. Choosing the correct tank colour to match its surrounding environment can go a long way to helping your tank fit in.
  • Tank styles – there exist a range of tank styles including flat and ribbed round tank profiles, “stubby” and thin slimlines, many which add style. You can also buy tanks to place under a deck or underground which would be entirely hidden from view.
  • Tank screens – if you can’t picture your tank fitting in, you can create screens with lattices or wooden slats. Grow a vertical garden, some grapes, tomatoes or passionfruit while concealing your tank from view.
  • Painting your tank murals – turn your tank into art by painting a mural on it. If you have children, they will love doing hand prints or joining in with painting. Just be sure to check with your manufacturer first as some chemical substances (especially with steel tanks) can void your tank warranty.

I hope this has helped you to identify an appropriate location if you are buying a new rainwater tank. In my opinion the most important considerations are proximity to downpipes, plumbing and drainage. At least, these are the more practical considerations. Should you have any comments or tips to share, please comment below.

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