Rainwater can safely be used for drinking, laundry, flushing toilets and watering gardens provided rainwater tanks are installed and plumbed in according to set standards and some simple maintenance is done by homeowners.
Since 1 July 2006, South Australian building rules have required new dwellings (and some extensions or alterations) to have an additional water supply to supplement the mains water.
Rainwater for drinking
The general public perception is that rainwater is safe to drink. In most areas of Australia, the risk of illness arising from consumption is low, providing it is visually clear, has little taste or smell and, importantly, the storage and collection of rainwater is via a well maintained tank and roof catchment system.
However, contaminants such as animal droppings on roofs and in gutters, dead animals, industrial and other environmental pollutants, degraded roofing materials, lead-based paints and sediments all need to be managed.
Maintenance is relatively simple. However, in practice, most roof catchments and rainwater tanks are poorly maintained.
For an overview download an Adobe PDF copy of the Rainwater tanks: maintenance and water care fact sheet Rainwater tanks: maintenance and water care fact sheet.
For more in-depth information, download an Adobe PDF copy of the document: Guidance on use of rainwater tanks document, created by the enHealth Council, a subcommittee of the National Public Health Partnership.
Rainwater tank legislation
There are state standards that apply to rainwater tanks in relation to the minimum holding requirements, roof area to be captured and protections to water quality, as well as how plumbed-in tanks are to be installed.
Visit the SA Government website page on Rainwater Tanks for more information.
Rainwater tank plumbing guide
If you are retro-fitting a rainwater tank and wish to plumb it incorrectly, SA Water has produced a rainwater plumbing guide for plumbers, builders and homeowners for the correct installation and plumbing of rainwater tanks and associated pibroch.
Download the Rainwater tank plumbing guide document.
State government rebates for rainwater tanks
In November 2007 the State Government launched the H2OME Rebate scheme to encourage South Australian households to achieve greater water savings inside and outside the home.
Visit the SA Water website for more information.
Some rebates have ended so make sure you check the purchase and claim dates for each rebate.