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Thread: A bit about rainwater tanks

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    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    I'm passing on our experiences as something to consider when intending to buy a lifestyle property:

    Our main concrete rainwater tank was producing something you wouldn?t want to keep your pet goldfish in, let alone drink. A very helpful guy came along and cleaned it out, but more or less gave it the kiss of death as, minus all the gunk he ejected from there, the tank sprouted a nice leak. Apparently the inside of the tank is worthy of the ?Sieve of the Year Award? as it?s already been patched several times. Relining the tank is about half the cost of a new one and may only last a couple or so years (against 20+ years with a new one) so looks like we might have to go for new (around $2,500+!), an expense we could well do without.

    Taffy has also fitted 3 types of filter to take out the various nasties from the water: a micron filter for taking the muck out of the water, a carbon filter for taking out any colours, smells and tastes and a UV filter for killing e-coli, rotavirus etc. Together they cost $1,400 and serve the water supply for the whole house. We have 2 tanks, one is the ailing concrete tank (5,000 gallons) and another smaller plastic tank (3,000 gallons). Plastic tanks don?t get a very good recommendation from our man as they can deteriorate and crack or even explode. Concrete tanks, although not pretty, keep the water cooler and last much longer. Living on free rainwater sounds great, but this sort of thing has to be taken into account along with the cost of having the tanks cleaned once a year (recommended and around $150-250-ish per tank depending on size and how much water is in them at the time). It doesn?t pay to skimp on maintaining the water system as there are some pretty nasty water-borne diseases around. Our man said he?d been quite ill for some time when he first started his business and that was from just cleaning the tanks. Now he?s better kitted up for the job and makes sure he disinfects his hands when he?s finished. Some people who?ve been brought up to drink the water may not notice any symptoms, but I?d hate to think what?s going on inside them. After all, it?s not that much different to the stagnant, polluted water that is drunk in the third world countries. As Glenda has previously pointed out, all manner of debris (animal, vegetable or mineral) gets washed into the tanks during a downpour.
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    nattydread's Avatar
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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    nice one MB thanks for that..

    on a similar vein, if you live somewhere with a mains water supply, how is the tap water for drinking?
    How does bottled water compare price wise to the UK?

    Is NZ similar to the UK with varying types of water depending on where you live.. hard and soft, etc..
    Do they put anything like fluoride in the public water supply?

    so many questions about 1 simple thing like water..

    Have any of the forumites out there got a swimming pool? What are the costs like for keeping one of those things ship shape?
    Judging by MB's costs for a water tank, i'm thinking it's expensive..

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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    We bought a 6-pack of bottled water (think they were 1.5 ltr. but receipt doesn?t say) for $6.25 in New World. Not knowing how much mineral water goes for in the UK, I can?t do a comparison. As with most things, there?ll be some brands more expensive than others. I?ve got a receipt for Foodtown as well, showing 2 ltrs. for $2.11.

    Hamilton is poised to add fluoride to its mains water after protests to clean up its act. I can?t speak for other towns/cities. The first week I was there I drank water straight from the tap, but a couple of days later I had griping stomach pains and bouts of diarrhoea. Perhaps this would have settled had I persevered, but, being on holiday, I didn?t want to spend most of my time on the pot and went onto bottled water. A couple more days and my gripes disappeared. To be honest, I can?t remember offhand whether Taffy and co. drank from the tap, the bottle or a bit of both.

    Both in Hamilton (mains) and at our house in Ngaruawahia (rainwater) we had no problems with lathering, so I don?t know if that means the water is reasonably soft.

    With regard to maintaining rainwater tanks, I would imagine it would be fairly reasonable if your tanks are in good condition and you opt to have them cleaned less frequently than once a year. Our vendors had said they had the tanks cleaned every year, but our tank man remembered that the last time he?d cleaned them was 6 years ago. They?d also said that they drank the water straight from the tanks without any filters being in place. Good luck to them, I say [smilie=Astonished.gif] . And we haven't even dared to peer into the septic tank yet ...... Let the dust settle on the rainwater issue first, I think.

    Sorry, can?t help with the swimming pool though. Perhaps if Zemanova looks in he may be able to give some guidance, as they have a nice one with a sand filter. Not sure if I remember him saying he got a tanker to fill it up initially, then it gets topped up with rainwater. They are in a similar position to us, rural with rainwater tanks.
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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    We didn't have any problem drinking the water on the South Island. In general I would say it is a lot cleaner/purer that the UK water by far.

    Some friends of ours are in the process of building a pool, but they have acecss to a spring to fill it.

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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    I guess with the proper filtering (3 types in MB case) is good enough to filter out and kill those nasties.

    Not sure if you need to add in anymore additives to make the water even more potable. Anyway, free water sounds good to me.. Save $$$ and do not need to reley on the city/town for supplies..

    pulsarblu

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    Default

    Great info there, MB!

    In our case we're living in a rental with a typical landlord with a reluctance to do anything on the property that costs money. We are also rather grateful we have this rental (considering our circumstances) and will not be rocking the boat as finding another rental may be a bit difficult.

    The water tank is probably about 12 years old (the same age as the house) and is leaking in several places. With the idea of checking inside, maybe even dropping in a chlorine tablet, I bought a stepladder and we tried to open the inspection hatch but it seems to be almost fused to the tank as if it has never been opened. There are no water filters fitted.

    Must admit that the water tastes great and we have not had any stomach aches; it was only after a little 'education' that we decided to drink only bottled water. We did enquire with the local health authority about testing our water but were told that unless there was a distinct metallic taste, a discolouration or frequent bouts of stomach problems they would not test the water.

    When you think about it, a lot of debris and chemicals can be washed into and contaminate ALL water supplies wherever you live, and whilst some filtering and sterilisation takes place contaminants do get through and generally nobody's worse for it. (Though I do recall some accidental water quality problems in the UK, some serious, and a general worry about hormones from contraceptive pills escaping the filtering system in the UK.)

    Mind you, I do wonder about the possibility of 12 years of sludge in our water tank ... Sick:

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    netchicken is offline Senior Member
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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    Isn't there an issue with metalic resadues coming off the roof with tank water?
    I thought sometimes lead can leach into the water, and paint residues.

    Mind you I have never heard of anyone dying from tank water.

    There are add on water purifiers for about $200 or so that go on the end of your tap which are good I gather.

    Generally I have read that bottled water is WORSE than tap water, there was one local barnd that was actually Auckland tap water :)

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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    It sounds as though rural areas rely on rainwater rather than well water, n'est pas? Interesting. I wonder what the groundwater situation is. It does seem as though with rainwater all kinds of fun stuff can find its way to your tap, so that filtration would be a minimum precaution to take.

    I'm not sure how it goes in NZ, but perhaps folks could find a private water (or environmental) testing lab to have some basic analyses done. It would cost some money, but could help with peace of mind and perhaps health. Testing for coliform bacteria would be a minimum, with perhaps metals analysis, depending on the roof. If it's galvanized, test for zinc.

    I think I'd be buying bottled water if I had no knowledge of the water quality in the cistern.
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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    Some houses have bore water, but the quality can vary substantially. Our bore, for example, contains a very high iron content, and we were informed it could cost about $6000 just to filter that out.

    We were also told that there was no point getting tank water tested as the next rainfall could wash anything into the tank and make the readings useless.

    What we've installed is the highest level of filtration, which takes out any 'bits', colour, taste, smell and kills any and all bacteria (UV). Our tap water is probably better that the city water now! Still havent tried it though :icon_cool:
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    Default A bit about rainwater tanks

    Some houses have bore water, but the quality can vary substantially. Our bore, for example, contains a very high iron content, and we were informed it could cost about just to filter that out . [smilie=Swoon_2.gif] But it could be used to water the garden and wash the car?

    Our tap water is probably better that the city water now! Still havent tried it though 8-) Chicken! The worst that can happen with that level of filtration is that you'd get a gippy tummy. You're surely not waiting for me to come back to use as a guinea pig? After laying out all that money, the least you can do is to try it and report back.
    Mother Bear

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