Do you need council approval to install a water tank?

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Home and Garden

Installing a water tank may not seem like a big deal, and in some cases, if you have the right set of technical skills, you can do it on your own. However, a lot of other factors have to be considered, such as size, location, plumbing, and public utilities. A lot of these requirements need the intervention of local government units, so depending on where you live, it’s a good idea to check in with your council. Here are some of the areas where you might need their go-ahead before you set up any kind if water storage unit.

 

Tank size and materials

When people are deciding on the size of the tank that they’d like, they typically focus on their weekly or monthly water usage. They pick a size that optimises access to water, allowing them to keep about a month’s supply at a time. However, they frequently forget to account for the weight of a full tank. A large tank will keep you well-watered, but it can also collapse the floor beneath it, especially if it’s elevated or positioned on a building.

Many councils need you to get their approval if your tank capacity is 10,000 litres or more. The council may send someone over to check your intended location and be sure it can handle the weight. Also, for concrete tanks that have to be poured onsite, you may need a construction or development license to account for the heavy machinery and noise that will be generated by the installation.

underground water tanks

Plumbing requirements

A rainwater tank could have a basic mechanism where your gutters and downpipes are redirected to collect water in the tank. It might also be a complex system of pump connections to the main house, pressure gauges to ensure smooth flow, and detention tanks to prevent flooding and control storm water. These plumbing connections need to be professionally installed to match industry standards.

You’ll have to hire a licensed, accredited plumber, and council officials may want to come and inspect the piping to ensure quality. In addition, pipes and plumbing components will need to avoid interfering with sewer lines and public utilities, so the council needs to approve your chosen pathways. Many councils will ask you to install a bypass switch that facilitates your transition from municipal mains to your personal water storage system. This can prevent accidental flooding as well as protecting and conserving water resources.

 

Installation equipment

On occasion, the issue isn’t even the tank itself. It’s more about the machinery and requirements surrounding your tank installation. For instance, if you put up your tank in the summer, it’ll be almost a year before the tank can be naturally filled by rainwater. In the meantime, you might choose to pour water from the mains into your tank, which could adversely affect the community supply, so you might want to see if your council objects.

Similarly, installing your tank may involve drilling to excavate your underground tank’s location, heavy vehicles delivering the tank itself, numerous work men moving around your property, cranes and bulldozers to put the tank in place, or cement mixers for concrete. This adds up to a lot of traffic and a lot of noise, which could pose a security risk for your neighbours, and cause a general stir in a small community. Checking in with the council makes the whole experience smoother and less disruptive for everyone involved.

 

Unique local bylaws

Sometimes, you’ve lived in an area for a long time, but you’re still unfamiliar with local regulations. Some of these laws have been in place since pre-colonial times and they may not seem particularly relevant or sensible, but as long as they’re in the books, they can presenta legal problem for you. For example, did you know that in some parts of the world it’s illegal to install private solar power panels? You have to get all your electricity from the grid.

While that’s not the case in Australia, it’s possible that there may be some seemingly archaic regulations about water use. It’s unlikely anyone will find them and enforce them, but you’re better off being on the safe side, so talk to your council officials, even if it’s just a matter of courtesy. As long as you approach them in an open manner they’ll be happy to guide you around any potential barriers to your water tank.

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