Water systems- harvesting rain


The water tank was actually one of the first things we put into the house in 2011. We decided we wanted to catch as much of that awesome rain water as possible and use it…

With so much rain, not many people do this and rely on damns, and strangely treated water or bores, and often like to then sprinkle this water over their driveway. To me this seems a little crazy as wonderful pure rain water, can be harvested straight from your roof and used there and then, or saved for a bit later when the rains have stopped. More recently a saving water campaign has been in place and Darwin has grown and our water sources really are running dry (Darwin River Dam and Howard Bore field for Darwin water) and other aquifers for bores in the rural area).

Wet gardenOf course, as it doesn’t rain for a few months , it is hard to save enough to go through the whole dry season, but the less people relying on the mains supply, the smaller the dams have to be, or less need for more dams. If you have a larger property, investing in a huge tank- like 250, 000 for rain water- is a great idea and will totally get you by.

As soon as a watercourse is changed to make a dam in our landscape, it is changed forever. The hydrology of our greater landscape is complex and beautiful and requiring another dam could total some very special rainforest filled landscapes.

LagoonwarmerBore water is an alternative, but the more people and farmers using this leads the artesian basin drying up, and this basin feeds out somewhere, so there is always a knock on effect. And there are some pretty special places that rely on water not too far away!

Tree house 2Any how I don’t have to bang on about this, the rain falls on us, so with little infrastructure, we can use it right at our house. Fresh rainwater is so good to drink, no added chlorine, fluoride or other odd energy added , just rain and to shower in rain water feels so different, soft and wonderful!

courts and water

Nearly 6 years ago now we put in our rain tank. It is 25, 000 litres, green and plastic- manufactured in Humpty Doo by Practical Plastics. 3m tall, 3.8m wide, now priced at $3100 (at the time there was a moderate rebate, but it has since been scraped). I of course took ages weighing up the pros an cons of the different style and materials of rain water tanks, there were expensive steel ones, made far away and transported in, concrete ones, possibly made in the territory (concrete is not a very sustainable material though!) and the plastic ones made in Humpty Doo. The pros of the plastic one were it was locally made, easy to transport, long lasting, relatively inexpensive and the plastic is recyclable after use. The negative is that there is a chance that even though food grade solid plastic, it may after heat and time break down and seep in very small amounts into the water. Even though there maybe a chance in the 3 years we have had the tank there is absolutely no taste of plastic at all, and the tank is in a very shady protected position, so should last a long time.

raining tankWe bought a pump which maybe was just over $800, but I can’t recall exactly and Jon rigged this up with soft pipe to be able to plumb the washing machine and outdoor shower, that already drain into banana circles, which filter the water and further use it to irrigate the garden. The shower is in fact in a banana circle, surrounded by a bamboo screen and it seems like the best shower in the world! Another bonus is no bathroom cleaning, just bathroom mulching! To find more about banana circles click the link.

Jon sexy shower shotThe tank also goes to irrigation solenoids, so in times of patchy rain we can water the veggie garden with rain. As the dry sets in we slowly go back to mains water over several months, keeping the rain shower and a tap to fill up our little drinking tank as long as possible. Last year we still had rain in the tank when the next rains set in and so drank only rain all year!

Over the dry our ‘waste water’ still runs from upstairs and down into banana circle pits and keep a bit of moisture going on. We do not let kitchen water straight out, as you really need a grease trap.

Washing clothes

Our washing helps the bananas grow all year round- pretty awesome!

Next week we are very excited that at last we have saved and arranged for Mark (The little Plumber) at a very good rate, to come and rig up the upstairs plumbing to our kitchen sink, upstairs shower and toilet, so we can choose to have no mains water over the wet season!

rainwater jar

And a top totally local drink that beats them all- chilled fresh rain water from the roof, a slice of garden lime, herbs from the garden- Thai basil and mint and even a little slither of local cucumber. The best!