Is it Safe to Bury a Poly Water Tank?

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If you have purchased a water tank, then chances are you have purchased a poly water tank. Today, if built to standards, they are very strong and durable, made to withstand the Sun, and very well priced compared to steel tanks. Some poly tanks are made to be buried, but perhaps you’ve purchased an above ground tank? Can you bury it, and if so how deep?

Firstly, you shouldn’t just bury any poly tank since the strength of walls can vary greatly across different brands. If too thin, or not properly supported, then they can collapse inwards due to pressure outside the tank.

As a guide, we recommend burying your poly tank no more than 1 metre into the ground. It is important to dig your hole 300mm (12 inches) wider than the base diameter of your tank. If two tanks are to be buried side-by-side then separate holes must be dug.

What’s the Value of a Rainwater Tank?

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A single inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof yields 623 gallons of water. That’s a lot! Installing a rainwater tank means you can keep all that water around until you need it, thereby reducing your use of mains water, saving you money, and helping the environment. If you receive enough rain, it might even be possible to make yourself independent from the public water supply.

The environmental benefits of installing a rainwater tank in certain arid regions of the country are so great that the local authorities strongly encourage and may even require them. In Victoria, using a water storage tanks to run your flush toilets is good for an additional star to help you reach the required five stars in your house energy rating for new construction. Even when they’re not required, rainwater tanks make a great source of water for gardening, washing cars, flushing toilets, and other situations where purity is not critical. Why waste precious purified water just to wash your car?

It is even possible to use rainwater tanks as sources of drinking water. Many people feel that if it tastes, smells, and looks fine, it probably is. You should still be very careful, and ideally install a reverse osmosis or similar purification system. There are a number of contaminants and pathogens that aren’t detectable by sight, taste, or smell. Using a rainwater tank as a drinking water source therefore takes more care than just using it for washing. It’s necessary to ensure the correct types of paints are used for the roof, the tank pH is kept under control and a variety of other factors taken into account.

Issues with Using Rainwater Tanks for Drinking Water?

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Rainwater itself is originally pure. As rainwater falls, it picks up environmental pollution in the droplets of water. Once the rainwater strikes the roof, it picks up any airborne pollutants that may have settled on to the roof, as well as any bacteria from birds and small animal droppings en route to the tank. This is particularly a problem in urban areas, where car exhaust and industrial gases may contain hazardous micro-particulates, but it applies to all systems. Even for houses in rural areas, rainwater from tanks must be carefully controlled against contamination.

A study published in Water Down Under 2008 revealed that Melbourne rainwater tanks were contaminated with heavy metals like lead well in excess of drinking water guidelines. Some of the contamination was attributed not to pollution in the air, but to the building materials used to make the roofs. Roofs with lead flashing often had lead levels in the water 50 times higher than the Australian limit. However, there were other contaminants whose source the study authors could not locate. Aluminum, iron, cadmium, and zinc exceeded acceptable health levels too, but the researchers couldn’t see a link between geographic location or materials used in the roof or tank system.

For these reasons and others, when using water tanks as a source of drinking water, health authorities prefer residents use their mains water supply if available. In a properly maintained tank however, there is no reason you should not be able to drink the water. In the Australian Outback people have been doing in for years. Installing filtration is recommended if using rainwater for drinking purposes to ensure harmful bacteria is removed. 

 

The Dry, the Thirsty and the Nearsighted

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Want a drop of rainwater?

The title doesn’t refer to a myopic old animal withering away in the outback, but to most of us who fail to take control of the water supply in our homes.

When the continents moved and the world took its present form, for some reason we Australians must have got the short end of the dowsing stick. Our rivers are irregular as is our rainfall. Somehow, water has always managed to elude us when we need it. And sometimes it surprises us when we least expect it and sweeps us off our feet. And yet many of us fail to plan for the dry season.

If you live in Perth, you’d probably be sitting through the present historical dry spell and thinking with envy of those in Brisbane caught in flash floods. But the truth is that the east coast is not much better off when it comes to drinking water supplies – the Murray-Darling basin is drying up at a shocking rate. And there can’t be enough said about the state of our groundwater throughout the country – though the lesser said the better for a good night’s sleep.

The question is: do we really have to give in to this lack of control over our own water supply? While the authorities are grappling with the problem of restoring groundwater levels, what are we doing to help?

It’s simple really, to ensure that each family makes the most of the rains. All that we need to harvest rainwater is to have a water tank installed in our rural and urban homes. Most such tanks are poly water tanks, made of durable polyethylene, which are quite affordable. You can use the water collected for your cooking, gardens and swimming pools and even as drinking water!

So have a poly water tank installed and you no longer have to worry about the not-so-rainy seasons again!