Recent weather developments are indicating that households need to seriously consider installing a rainwater tank as a safeguard against weather changes and mains water supply dependence.
The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed this month that prospects for a higher and drier than usual year for much of Australia are increasing, with an El Nino climate pattern forming in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This means rainfall patterns will shift, with eastern Australia among areas likely to see lower-than-normal rainfall.
At the same time, the El Nino weather pattern will cause temperatures to rise. This is already exemplified by the fact that this past summer, Melbourne registered its first four-day run above 41 degrees while Sydney marked 19 consecutive days above 26 degrees up until March 23, the longest series of such days for any season in 155 years of records.
About 80 per cent of Queensland and much of northern NSW have already been declared to be in drought, prompting the federal government to earmark $280 million in low-cost loans to help farmers stay in business.
Rising temperatures and droughts will increase demand on the mains water supply. However, during periods of minimal rainfall, water restrictions—and in extreme cases, water rationing—may be put in place as dam levels decrease and governments attempt to curb water use to ensure an adequate supply for the entire population.
It’s also not all good news when it rains, as evidenced by the storms which have been a constant feature in the last week of March in Sydney. Last week, residents in Sydney’s south-west were asked to avoid using dishwashers and washing machines, filling spas or swimming pools, washing cars and watering gardens to conserve drinking water supplies after heavy storms forced the shutdown of a major filtration plant. Sydney Water blamed heavy rain in recent days for putting “enormous pressure on the Macarthur Filtration Plant, with high levels of debris and turbulence in the catchment’s water”.
If your household has a rainwater tank installed, you will be successfully harvesting rain water during periods of rainfall. This means your family will not be as affected by water restrictions imposed either because of drought conditions or mains water supply problems. You can use the harvested rain water for household tasks such as flushing the toilet, doing the laundry, watering the garden, cleaning the car and even running the dishwasher. This leaves plenty of mains water supply available as drinking water, although you can of course easily filter rain water to make it potable as well.
Rainwater tanks aren’t just useful in times of drought or El Nino periods. While they certainly do come in handy for collecting rain water during storms and storing them for future use, they also reduce your dependency on mains water supply, which is equally important, as evidenced by recent events in Sydney.