The Tamworth Region, located in inland NSW (north-western), covers 9,653 square kilometres from the Nandewar Range north of Barraba, to the head of the Peel River and the Great Dividing Range. It has the charm of country living combined with a progressively city style and is estimated to have a population of over 58,000 people.
Rainwater tanks serve a valuable purpose in the Tamworth Region which has had in place water restrictions since August 2002. Investing in your own water supply is therefore important if you wish to enjoy a bit more freedom with your water usage.
If you are considering a water tank in Tamworth, then this article serves as a quick guide help you understand requirements you should be aware of. When buying a water tank, there are certain regulations set by the New South Wales government, and we highly recommend you contact Tamworth Regional Council to confirm the currency of the information.
State Level Rainwater Tank Requirements (New South Wales)
The Tamworth Regional Council actively supports and implements various state and national based regulation and planning controls that promote water efficient practices including BASIX, the WELS Rating Scheme and the Smart Approved WaterMark Program.
The NSW Government has implemented residential building requirements call BASIX that aims to deliver sustainable water and energy. BASIX applies to the development of all new homes and certain alterations.
Rainwater tanks are a great way to achieve BASIX certification for your proposed development. Rainwater collection is assessed based upon:
- the capacity of the rainwater tank being installed
- roof catchment area that will be connected to the rainwater tank
- how the tank water will be used
- running overflow from your rainwater tank to another tank for collection and re-use.
WELS Rating Scheme
Australia has what is called the Water Efficient Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme for certain products. This standard provides mandatory performance standards and water efficiency ratings up to 6 stars. Choosing products with a higher water efficiency rating will make your rainwater go further.
Although WELS does not really impact upon installation of rainwater tanks, to make the most of water in your tank it is recommended that you also install water efficient appliances and fixtures.
Tamworth Regional Council estimates showers and baths consume around 15% of domestic water use, with toilets, washing machines and kitchens around 10% each.
Smart Approved WaterMark Program
The Smart WaterMark is not compulsory, but a nationally endorsed program setup by four associations (Australia Water Association, Irrigation Australia, Nursery and Garden Industry and Water Services Association of Australia). Like WELS, it is a water efficiency labelling scheme for products and services primarily aimed at reducing outdoor water use.
Tamworth Council estimates that around 40% of domestic water is consumed outdoors on gardens, lawns and the like. Making use of rainwater and plumbing products that have a Smart Approved WaterMark can help with being more efficient with outdoor water.
Tamworth Rainwater Tank Requirements
In many cases, you will not need to submit a development application to the Council for installing a rainwater tank where it satisfies specific rules. If in doubt, contact Tamworth Regional Council.
Rules to do with rainwater tanks differ depending upon which area in Tamworth that your property resides. Details normally covered include:
- Minimum and/or maximum tank capacities allowable
- Tank height restrictions and allowable distance above ground
- Property surface area allowed to be covered by water tank/s
- Inlets must be screened so that entry of any animal or foreign matter is prevented and breeding of mosquitoes and other insects is avoided
- Installation of water diverters
- Whether tank can be interconnected to bore water
- Whether or not stands can be used, and any maximum tank sizes for stand use
- If underground, allowable depth of excavation
- Whether tank can be interconnected with Council’s reticulated water supply
- Marking of taps identifying water supply
- Installation of dual check valve or backflow water devices
- Overflow piping whether to street gutter, storm water main or other
- Distance of water tank inside property boundaries
- Water tanks kept of any easements
- Visibility from street
Tamworth Tank Water Usage Regulations
In the Tamworth Region, rainwater is not regulated where the tank stands alone and remains unconnected to an alternative water supply (mains or bore water). This means installing a standalone tank provides you with freedom to use it on your gardens and as desired.
The Council advises Tamworth residents to understand that many water tanks are plumbed into the town water system for top-ups when rainwater runs dry. The use of water in tanks connected to mains water fall under the current level of restrictions for water usage.
Note: If you wish to use rainwater from a standalone tank, then you will need to contact Council to have the system inspected and be issued with an official Tamworth Regional Council approved sign.
Tamworth Regional Council Rebate Scheme
The Council’s residential water saver rebate scheme is set to continue until 28 February 2020 and applies to water efficient shower heads, toilets, swimming pool covers and rainwater tanks.
Installing 2,000 to 5,000 litre rainwater tanks can provide you with a rebate of $250, and up to $500 for rainwater tanks of 5,000 litres or above. To claim a rebate your water tank must:
- be fully plumbed into your home
- be connected to your garden and toilet, and/or laundry
- have a dual check valve fitted on the property side of the water meter