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    Tools for containment: 6 rainwater capture and storage solutions for urban homes

    Geraldine Chua

    For many homes in rural Australia, water storage tanks are a common sight; a necessity even. But the story for urban dwellings unfolds a little differently, with the majority of urban households relying on a treated mains water supply.

    In recent times however, an increasing number of suburban and inner-city homes have employed a range of water management and efficiency strategies to lower their mains water usage, whether for legal (many new homes are now required to have a rainwater tank plumbed into the house for some domestic uses), sustainability or cost reasons.

    The Gladesville House by your abode, for instance, is water self-sufficient despite its urban NSW location. Inner Sydney terrace, Forest Lodge ECO House by Code Green, also has systems in place to minimise the amount of water leaving the property, whilst effectively harnessing the benefits of captured water.

    According to Chris Knierim, director of Code Green, containment is the number one solution to ensuring water efficiency in homes. Collecting rainwater can go a long way for all stages of the building process, from construction (for cement mixes and cleaning equipment) through to occupation.

    Indeed there have been a number of innovations in the field, both in terms of aesthetics as well as quality. These innovations, ranging from slimline tanks to underground and bladder systems, account for the different needs a project could have, as the type of build often determines the feasibility of implementing a system.

    Here are five water capturing and storage systems for urban homes in Australia that aren’t your typical tanks:

    Aqua-line Water Tanks from Stratco

    Featuring a clean, smooth surface with strengthening ribs, Aqua-line Water Tanks are made from a polyethylene that has food grading and protects it against harmful UV rays. The tanks are manufactured in one piece from rotomoulded plastic, and the thick poly thick wall allows it to be impact and corrosion resistant.

    They come in two sizes – 3,000 or 5,000 litres – and are engineered and tested to meet all relevant Australian Standards. Brass outlets are moulted into the tank at the time of manufacture for a watertight seal, and outlets can be located in one of four locations around the tank. According to Stratco, the tank is maintenance free and easy to move and relocate.

    Other features:

    • A 300mm inlet that also acts as a leaf strainer and inspection point is standard
    • An optional 400mm inlet with light guard is also available
    • The 90mm overflow can be positioned on either side of the water tank
    • All the fittings are protected with mosquito proof mesh

    Eco Sac by Waterplex

    Eco Sac is a framed bladder tank that can be hidden under decks and floors, and which can harvest all of the rain that falls on a roof by diverting the downpipes to a common in-flow pipe. According to WaterPlex, this means more rainwater can be collected, much faster than for a traditional rainwater tank.

    Made from a geo tech fabric and steel from Canberra and manufactured in Queensland, the bladder is secured into place with a galvanised steel frame and harness. This ensures that the product will not touch any part of the home, which is important as 1,000 litres of water collected weighs one tonne. A steel mounting plate also fixes the pipe location and removes stress from the pipes.

    The system’s bladders are made from a PVC material that is compliant with drinking water standards AS/NZS 4020, allowing the water captured to be used without fear of contamination for swimming pools and fish ponds. In addition, excess water is diverted to a stormwater system to prevent over-filling.

    Eco Sac rainwater bladder tank inlet and overflow detail. Images: Waterplex

    Eco Sac has a full 10 year warranty, and features side entry fittings (inlets and outlets) that comply with AS3500. All connections are permanently accessible for on-going maintenance. Multiple bladders can be installed together for maximum water storage. 

    Modular Slimline Tanks from Bushman Tanks

    The Bushmans TT210 Storage Tank was created with flexibility in mind. With a modular design, the product can be installed as a single tank or an unlimited number of connected 1,000 litre tanks, depending on the requirements and limitations of a project. They can be installed in hard-to-access places, such as the side of buildings or between windows, and their size and weight allows them to be manoeuvred into position easily.

    Manufactured in accordance with AS/NZS 4766 quality standard, the tanks are created in one piece from the company’s Sunsmart UV stabilised polyethylene, an advanced generation linear material that results in better UV protection and chemical and impact resistance, and a longer tank life.

    It comes with a guarantee of ten years, and can be used to supply water for gardens, pools, or to connect to the house mains for toilets and washing machines. 

    EcoAID by Maxiplas

    Image: EcoAID

    Designed for applications where above ground rainwater tanks are not suitable or practical, EcoAID is a rain and stormwater harvesting and storage system that can be used in heavily trafficked areas as the shape of its installation is completely flexible. With articulated joints that allow for placements on radii as small as 25m, the system can follow the geographical contour of a site, or the curves or a round or roundabout.

    EcoAID filters and treats captured water using a variety of natural or synthetic filter media, and when completely buried, its expected service life is said to be typically 10 times that of above ground poly tanks exposed to UV degradation. Maxiplas also notes that EcoAID chambers have a smaller carbon footprint than concrete tanks and galvanised steel, which are more energy intensive in their fabrication. 

    Graf Platin by Reece

    Image: Graf

    Compared to another tank of the same volume, the Graf Platin requires up to 80 per cent less digging. Its minimal installation depth and shallow excavation requirements means it is suitable for rocky ground and locations with high ground water.

    The product is made from a rotation moulding process, which creates seamless internal joints for extra strength. It comes with a Minimax self-cleaning mosquito proof filter that provides over 95 per cent water yield with a mesh width of just 0.35mm. It also comes with an inclusive spray cleaning unit – an intense water jet for cleaning the filter sieve which keeps routine maintenance intervals to a minimum.

    With a 12 year tank warranty, the system can be used as an under deck, above ground, or semi-submerged tank, although the possibility of algal growth is eliminated if it is stored underground. 

    Aquacomb by Texo

    Aquacomb is a modular water storage system designed to manage rainwater and stormwater for Australian homes without encroaching on lifestyle or aesthetics. Comprising a series of interconnected water storage pods that can be housed wholly within a concrete slab or under hard covered surfaces, the product eliminates the need for excavation, along with charged lines, additional concrete footings, and above ground tanks and pipe work.

    To be used for rainwater retention, on-site stormwater detention and grey water reuse, Aquacomb pods compliment the waffle pod slab construction and replaces styro foam pods. They can also be placed under existing construction, or utilised as a suspended slab.

    Out of four lines in the Aquacomb range, two are most suitable for residential projects – Aquacomb Life is the domestic everyday tank that is manufactured for non-potable water, while Aquacomb Pure is manufactured from the highest grade of polyethylene to ensure it complies with Australian National Food Grade Standards. Both systems comply with BCA requirements, and reduce maintenance costs by avoiding the need for a testable dual check valve (RPZ). 

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