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  1. #1
    2K Club Member toooldforthis's Avatar
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    Default water supply is only rainwater tank(s)

    anyone here with first hand experience of owning a property totally reliant on tank water?

    did a search and the only one that popped up was turnstiles and his sea container property.

    things I am wondering about ...
    • if you buy a place what should one look for to assess tank and associated plumbing?
    • I can see advantages in more than one tank (redundancy etc) but it doesn't seem common
    • and water contamination issues - prevention and correction of?


    I have found a few links but haven't got into them yet.
    https://renew.org.au/

    https://inhabitat.com/everything-you...water-wetland/

    Tankulator - Home page

    https://www.renovateforum.com/f179/w...estion-113024/

  2. #2
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    things I am wondering about ...

    • if you buy a place what should one look for to assess tank and associated plumbing?
    • I can see advantages in more than one tank (redundancy etc) but it doesn't seem common
    • and water contamination issues - prevention and correction of?
    I have a rainwater tank only property and had it for 11 years now.
    Reliability of a rainwater system depends of location obviously, so your first port of call are the locals. Ask around what size tank gives you all year around independence. We have 40,000 L tank that is sufficient for two permanent dwellers and occasional visitors. Any more and we would need to add 10 or 20 kl.
    Also check availability and cost of water delivery. 15 Kl truck costs $150 here, and usually available within a few days. We bought water about 4 times in 11 years.

    Plumbing is no different from any other plumbing, but for the pump that supplies pressure.
    Most places i have seen in this neighbourhood, have dodgy pumps and even dodgier guttering that spill the water before it gets to the tank.

    A good quality pump with a pressure tank that does not rely on flimsy unreliable electronics is best. Check with the local plumber, in fact he can inspect any potential property with local knowledge. My pump was 10 years old when we bought the place and after changing the pressure tank once, is still going strong.

    Adding tank capacity is a simple proposition if you have the room for it at the same level. Cost for plastic tanks is easy to find locally.
    The roof that collects rainwater should be free of paint and rust, gutters in good working order, but nothing can stop dust, leaves, pollen, flowers, birds and bats droppings on your roof, and all that will end up in your tank.
    So you need a good all house first filter for solids, and another under the sink for drinking water with two cartridges and UV to kill bacteria.

    Your tank will also need a good bottom scrub with a bottom cleaner. There is bound to be a water tank cleaner in your area. Just a few hundred dollars every 2-3 years.
    When we first called the cleaner he pumped out about one foot of debris, muck and assorted organic matter. Previous owners had been drinking that stuff without filtration.
    His comment when we enquired was that it is better than town water, just pure rainwater ...

    We also had a possum die in the downpipe were it got stuck. I pulled the carcass out the pipe bit by bit and the cleaners pumped it empty and washed it with chlorine. Then the truck filled it back. Solid covers for downpipes and tank manhole will prevent this.

    In another property we had a well for water supply. The well had a solid concrete lid. There was however a gap between the pipe that sucked water up the well and the brickwork. One frog decided to jump in, and started to call others that also fell 3 meters down. Soon enough there was a collection of rotting and dying frogs that made the water poisonous. I climbed down the well that fortunately had only a meter or so of water, and placed all i could find in a bucket that my wife pulled up. Once there was no more corpses, I had to pump water out the well for the whole day until it stopped smelling. Then, 5 litres of chlorine and a day without water did the trick,
    All in good fun.
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
    Max Planck

  3. #3
    2K Club Member toooldforthis's Avatar
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    thanks Marc.
    very interesting

    a pre purchase inspection sounds the go (with the right plumber) but chances are some of the sort of things you mentioned are bound to occur in due course so best not to have the rose coloured glasses on.
    I used to breed fussy aquarium fish so understand a bit about water quality, filters, pump etc - and they had sex in it!

    a little bit more maintenance and DIY than scheme water then.

  4. #4
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    Yep, I'm on tank only water. Good advice from Marc.
    Weve got a 170,000l tank - steel with a liner (Rino tank or something similar)

    Why so big you might ask, well 4 reasons:
    1. In the scheme of building everything from scratch, it wasnt that much extra to have a much bigger size tank and coming from town with 3 teenage kids didn't want to run out of water....which we did several times living in the shed but was better once the house was built with a larger catchment area, even better once I completed the wrap around verandah and aging with a small shed - 800 m2 of catchment area all going into the tank. We had a 1 in a 100 year rain event that seems to happen every few years that dumped 100,000 liters over night, filling it to the overflow.
    2. and for the first few years it was also supplying stock and garden water.....that was 6 years ago and one day (hopefully in the next 12 months), I'II trench a line to the now repaired dam for stock and garden water.
    3. In a big bush fire area and wanted plenty of backup even though our strategy is to get out if we can.
    4. If we decided to build something in the future, the Yarra Ranges council here are pains in the rear with talk of increase "tank" minimum reserves for fire fighting so Ive 2 outlets, one at the bottom and another 600mm above that essentially has 30,000 liters below it. Im connected to the bottom one and would only ever connect to the high one simply to meet any permit conditions. It was $50 to install at the time of tank construction rather than having to excavate and get another tank. So check your councils requirements to minimise future pain. They don't consider the dam as reserves.

    I'd advise the following:
    • Like Marc said, see if you can have water carted in if you need it.
    • Make sure the tank is in a location the truck can get to
    • Good idea to have the tank in a location where you could add on others if required
    • What you average rainfall and roof/catchment area including future roof areas to give you an idea on whats possible.
    • Gutters, I dont cover the down pipes BUT have a leaf diverter midway down. This is handy as Ive made covers that slip over the top so when I've cleaning my gutters, all the crap hits the cover and goes straight to the ground https://www.bunnings.com.au/our-rang...E&gclsrc=aw.ds
    • If putting up new gutters, consider 1/2 round 150mm with external brackets....thank me later as they are the easiest gutters to keep clean with a hose and dome brush to push all the crap out. There is a place in Moorabbin that manufactures pressed steel brackets @ ~$3 a piece rather than cast iron @ $10 to $16 a piece. https://www.mackbros.com.au/gutterin...and-200mm.aspx
    • Clean out your filter at the top of the tank where your downpipe goes into every year
    • When choosing a site for your tank, think about what building you have or could have and site it so they can all drain into it.
    • Use 100mm pipe for all the pipework in the ground to the tank...dont consider 90mm that Ive seen some do and live to regret the decision
    • Ive a "wet" or "charged" system where the downpipe all go underground over to the tank and back up the side of the tank into the top.
      • Because of this, I've got a tee in the ground that has before the tank for 4 m that take a good chunk of the fine debris (Some call it a first flush), fills up with water before going into the tank. If we haven't had rain in a while, I take the cap off before the rains t give it a good flush out and do the same routinely regardless.

    • When trenching the pipe to the tank, plan for the future.
      • In my case, 8 years ago I'd put in 2 x 100mm lines - one circuit for the shed and one for the future house. Its come in handy as the shed gutter needs cleaning from the mud rains at the start of the year and therefore the tee line is uncapped so all shed water is draining to the paddock.
      • I'd also put in 3 x 25mm blue line. 1 spare which will be used for dam water to a fire hose and garden tap and 2 to the house. I'd plumbed the house with 2 water lines - one for the toilets which I'm hoping to swap over to dam water.
      • A 50mm blue line for gardens and stock water that can be swapped over to dam water when I tap into the dam
      • My pump shed is at the tank that will control both dam and tank water (2 pumps)

    • Consider a cheap $100 "Bunnings" backup pump in case your main one breaks down. Has only happened once, but was easy to swap over until we could fix our main pump and at least we could still have a shower, flush the toilet and cook.
    • I've a filter at the kitchen sink for all our drinking and cooking water.
    • Ive a hill, 25m elevation and is on the project list to put a 10,000L header tank and use solar power to pump to and supply "pressurised" water without the need for my pump to be kicking in all the time.....It on my project list!!!
    • ...and drawings, record where and how deep your underground pipe/s are
    • Id put in a few inspection tees just in case. Has come in handy as I'm building a small shed which I'II divert the water into.



    ...Sounds a lot but once your set up, its easy. In my case no trees around the house and maintenance with the tank filter maybe twice a year and open the caps to flush out the pipes with the next rain 3 or 4 times during dusty summer and once after autumn.

  5. #5
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Good stuff Bart ... yes, must love the council. All new buildings here need to have 120 Kl tank for the fire brigade. Only problem is that we are waterfront and there is a 100m wide and 4 meter deep river in my backyard!
    May be they need to fight fires with drinking water because of OH&S ... you know, there may be Carroņa Virus in the river! ...
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by toooldforthis View Post
    anyone here with first hand experience of owning a property totally reliant on tank water?

    did a search and the only one that popped up was turnstiles and his sea container property.

    things I am wondering about ...
    • if you buy a place what should one look for to assess tank and associated plumbing?
    • I can see advantages in more than one tank (redundancy etc) but it doesn't seem common
    • and water contamination issues - prevention and correction of?


    I have found a few links but haven't got into them yet.
    https://renew.org.au/

    https://inhabitat.com/everything-you...water-wetland/

    Tankulator - Home page

    https://www.renovateforum.com/f179/w...estion-113024/
    Ive lived with tank water for a good 25 years, presently we have a dedicated drinking water tank of a few thousand litres which only gets filled after steady rain for a few hours with a diverted down pipe, our main tank is 25,000 litres & is for all other domestic & garden use, we use it up in about 4-6 weeks, that is pumped from a permanent river to the tank on a hill with 25 meters elevation, if I remember correctly when I was living totally off the grid on water restrictions, station water usage of 80 litres per person a day was in the shower every 3 days territory, normally it was around 120 + litres a day PP
    Inter

  7. #7
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Thought about the tank on the hill. It is a good idea in theory. In practice it will cost as much as you will spend in electricity for the next 20 years for the whole house ... and a bit more
    To save may be 2 or 3 thousands ... in the next 20 years.
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
    Max Planck

  8. #8
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    yeh, whats holding me back is the cost to set up and time. I need more of both.
    Its more about convenience and another form of redundancy. We have many rare "annual" weather events that knock out the power. get tied of going out to the shed starting/stopping the gen set just for water. Last year we were out for 6 days straight.

    Realistically, its at the bottom of the list and probably will never get to ...but it doesn't hurt to dream. I've plenty to do with farm fencing, water troughs, weed control, pergola's, concreting, landscaping....is a life long project!, vegi patch's, tree plantings, bee hives, wet back water heater on the flu, fergi tractor resto, possibly a Kombi resto (if I can get it cheap enough)...and the list goes on and friggin on....will likely keep me busy until I drop off the perch

  9. #9
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Yes, I know the feeling. I thought that when retired from the office, life would be more relaxed.
    Didn't happen.
    I am as busy as ever even after my seventh decade.
    What kind of generator do you have? Can you wire an electronic controller?

    We also have power failures rather often, but the generator is downstairs so not big deal to go and start it, however ... the controller in my new generator can be programmed to either be started remote or start automatically when power fails. I rather do things manually, because I am away for 2 or 3 days a week so don't want the generator to start when no one is there.
    The new electronic controllers are cheap and can do many things.
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
    Max Planck

  10. #10
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    ...thats an idea - electronic remote controller.
    My gen set is an 8kva Honda motor, pull start. My setup is rather crude in that I have to either run an extension lead down to the water pump or grab the 2kva gen set and set up at the pump.

    Another job on the list but the intention is to wire in a switch to disconnect the mains and have the genset plugged in at the meter board which feeds 2 sub boards (House and shed). And its either build a fire proof/theft resistant gen enclosure at the meter position or run some underground to another spot closer to the house for the genset to plug into.

    I should have a look at your genset post to get some ideas.

  11. #11
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    I had something like you describe as crude, an old Honda 5.5 ish KVA petrol single phase. I did however, have the proper changeover switch and wiring at the switchboard.
    The new generator is larger and I had to change the changeover switch to a 100 amp one. Tesla turned out to be half the price of the others.
    You can get controllers for around 200 dollars, but then you need to have all the sensors on the generator, and the little hondas don't have them. They can be added I suppose, but adding an electric starter is way too much work.
    Probably better to upgrade to one that has a controller.
    Keep an eye on ads from WA, they have lots of mining camps there, that run medium sized back up generators, and they come on the market relatively cheap. The one I have had about 30 hours.
    Look for Kubota, Perkins, Cummins, Yanmar, and don't fall for the Chinese knock off.

    Best is to find a workshop that repairs generators, and talk to them about what you need. Petrol generators are cheaper but are screamers that don't like to work full time ... a bit like the greenie agitators
    A local expert can save you lots of time and you may be lucky to find one that can wire controllers, something that your local electrician will not be able to do, in fact some will not even know how to wire your generator properly to the switchboard. When I had the electrician wire the new generator, I realised that the old one was not wired in properly. I had to switch off the mains, then change over and then start the motor.
    Had I not switched off the mains, when the power came back it would have all gone bad.
    The new one only needs to turn the changeover from mains to gen, and start.
    Now I want a light and may be a buzzer to tell me when the power is back.
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Thought about the tank on the hill. It is a good idea in theory. In practice it will cost as much as you will spend in electricity for the next 20 years for the whole house ... and a bit more
    To save may be 2 or 3 thousands ... in the next 20 years.
    We have a 5.5hp petrol firefighter pump, 3-4 litres of fuel for 25,000 litres of water, no loss of water when the grid goes out & that can be very often some years. I am toying with the idea of a solar pump in the future.
    inter

  13. #13
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Yes, your tank is already there. You can use a petrol pump instead of the electric, to pump from the river and feed the house by gravity.
    i can't pump rain into my tank with a petrol pump
    Our river is brackish ... about 9 grams of salt per litre more or less. i thought of a small water maker system the one used on ships, but the cost is too high with river water with the current membrane technology. May be in a few years they come up with something new.

    What I was referring to is the cost of building a new tank on top of a hill and install pipes to fill and service. Not much change from $50,000, providing you don't need to buy the hill
    How do you filter the river water?
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
    Max Planck

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Yes, your tank is already there. You can use a petrol pump instead of the electric, to pump from the river and feed the house by gravity.
    i can't pump rain into my tank with a petrol pump
    Our river is brackish ... about 9 grams of salt per litre more or less. i thought of a small water maker system the one used on ships, but the cost is too high with river water with the current membrane technology. May be in a few years they come up with something new.

    What I was referring to is the cost of building a new tank on top of a hill and install pipes to fill and service. Not much change from $50,000, providing you don't need to buy the hill
    How do you filter the river water?
    We don't filter the river water its crystal clear, there are prefabricated steel tanks which cost around $12.5k which hold 150,000 litres.
    inter

  15. #15
    2K Club Member toooldforthis's Avatar
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    gosh, you guys have been busy, while I was busy elsewhere.

    thanks for all the input, esp Bart with that write up - awesome.
    the property I had in mind has gone Under Offer but most of them in that area are on rainwater so still thinking...

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    I'm not off the grid but do have large water tanks. One thing that I have found really useful is having two water tanks connected to one another. Water enters one and is taken from the other. One thing it does is ensure that any debris, dirt etc will settle in the first tank and the water in the second tank is clean. With pre-filters etc the water going into the first tank is pretty good (would have no problems drinking it) but after a number of years there is a build up on the bottom of muck that has settled out of the water (still only a small amount and will probably never have to get the tank cleaned). The bottom of the second tank is still clean and therefore that means that the water drawn from that tank is as good as it can get. I have in-line filters after the tank but there has never been any muck at all collect in them. I reckon with the two tank system I don't even need the filters but they are there just in case.

  17. #17
    2K Club Member toooldforthis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesrule View Post
    . One thing that I have found really useful is having two water tanks connected to one another... [snip] ...
    yes, I had wondered about that. thanks.

  18. #18
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    If you want to have dual tanks, make sure the pick up from the first to the second has a riser inside the tank say 300/400 mm otherwise the bottom muck will be sucked in the second tank all around the pick up pipe if it is on the bottom.
    Science is never settled,
    it advances one funeral at the time.
    Max Planck

  19. #19
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    The water pumps on firefighting trucks can cope with dirty water so putting the output for tank two just above the limit for fire fighting storage level might do double duty.
    Don't forget to install a swimming pool for extra fire fighting water too.
    "A big boy did it and ran away"

    Legal disclaimer denying responsibility to be inserted here.

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