Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
Water tanks & watering equipment
The aim of this page is to help Qld residents learn about tools and equipment to store water or deliver water to plants efficiently, and where to buy them.
Your local government authority should be your first port of call for information about watering restrictions, irrigation regulations and related information applicable to your area. Links to many Qld councils are provided on the Regional Pages.
NB: In a water crisis, what's allowed can change frequently. Make yourself aware of current watering rules to avoid fines. Rebate schemes are also changing, so make sure you check with the authorities responsible for the most up-to-date information.
Water desalination is expensive and requires a lot of energy. With the number of desalination plants increasing worldwide, the United Nations is warning of another problem - toxic brine. Every litre of fresh water extracted leaves behind about 1.5 litres of very salty water, which depletes oxygen when released back into the ocean. Waste brine can also contain toxic chemicals used in the desalination process. On the upside, brine could be used as a resource for mineral extraction, cultivation of certain salt-tolerant plants or even used in some forms of aquaculture. Source: UN Warns of Rising Levels of Toxic Brine as Desalination Plants Meet Growing Water Needs (January 2019)Older news at bottom of page.
Suppliers of water tanks or watering equipment
May include online suppliers. For the most up-to-date information on plants in stock, opening hours, prices etc, be sure to visit the seller's website or contact the business directly.
Do you have a product suitable for listing on this page? Advertising Information.
From Drought to Dengue
The return of rainwater tanks to South East Queensland may also see the return of dengue fever, according to recent research done by scientists and medical researchers from the CSIRO and several Queensland institutions.
Temperatures in tanks and buckets were monitored at several sites across Brisbane through the 2014 winter. Then Aedes aegypti - a mosquito species responsible for transmitting dengue, Zika and other diseases - was cultured under similar conditions.
It was found that the insect was capable of completing its lifecycle through a Brisbane winter. Brisbane was previously considered too cool and dry to support Aedes aegypti year-round.
The revival in home water collection and storage means standing water persisting for at least 32 days is now common throughout the suburbs. The research showed that tanks or buckets could potentially breed the mosquitoes, tanks having advantages in terms of higher humidity and moderated temperatures in the air cavity.
Screening of tanks will be important to preventing future dengue outbreaks, but the researchers observed native mosquito species Aedes notoscriptus in "sealed" tanks throughout the winter. They suggest that water trapped in gutters and pipes (including first flush devices) could be the source.
Aided by rotting leaves, these reservoirs become infested with eggs and larvae that are washed into tanks with the next rainfall. Adults that develop are able to escape from even tiny gaps in screens or seals.
Aedes aegypti was common in Brisbane in the early decades of the twentieth century, probably due to the number of unsealed rainwater tanks and other storages. As these were phased out, the species largely disappeared from the region. Without rigorous maintenance of the twenty-first century's water harvesting systems, the mosquito and its diseases could again pose a significant threat.
The full report of the study is available here: Life on the margin: Rainwater tanks facilitate overwintering of the dengue vector, Aedes aegypti, in a sub-tropical climate, published by the journal PLoS ONE.
Could a water tank improve your property value?
Archicentre (the Building Advisory Service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects) suggest that as water restrictions hit many parts of Australia hard, a water tank connected to a drip irrigation will be more likely to attract buyers than some luxuries inside the house. Apart from the landscaping benefits, these systems could also help homeowners control cracking problems resulting from dry soils.
However, Archicentre warn that many homes have roofing problems. fixing and maintaining roofs and gutters will help maximise water harvesting as well as protecting homes against the weather extremes that may accompany climate change.
More on what they have to say about these issues at their website:Climate Change Means More Maintenance For Home Owners (January 2007)
Drought To Change Home Buyers Priorities (January 2007)
More Online Information
The following links are for general information - remember to check with local authorities to find out what's allowed or required in your area.
Queensland Water Commission is a good starting point for water supply and water saving information including the South East Queensland Regional Drought Strategy.
Rainwater tanks Water-efﬁcient gardening guide from Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (PDF)
Plumbing Department of Infrastructure and Planning, Qld Govt. Information about plumbing, sewerage, greywater, water saving etc. in Qld
Effects of water quality on soil, plants and irrigation equipment Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries
Plants and turf suited to greywater Queensland Govt (PDF)
Rainwater tanks for a sustainable future Toowoomba City Council (PDF)
Guidelines for the installation of rainwater tanks in reticulated water service areas Emerald Shire Council
How to make the most of the dew Save Our Waterways Now (Brisbane)
Choosing the right sized rainwater tank Department of the Environment and Heritage
National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative Department of the Environment and Heritage
Guidance on use of rainwater tanks Department of Health and Ageing
Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme Department of the Environment and Heritage
Smart Aproved WaterMark Australian labelling scheme for outdoor products and services
ARID Australian Rainwater Industry Development group.
Using windbreaks to reduce evaporation from farm dams Department of Agriculture Western Australia
Irrigation Water Management: Training Manual No. 1 - Introduction to Irrigation Introduction to basic terms. Food and Agriculture Organization
Garden Hoses Backyard Gardener column, July 7, 1999. Arizona Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona
Different Watering Methods (includes tips on choosing garden hoses) University of Illinois Extension
Rainbarrels are making a come back University of Illinois
Harvest Rainwater to Irrigate Gardens and Landscapes New Mexico State University
Harvesting Winter Rains for Your Plants Arid-Southwestern Gardening Information, University of Arizona
Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use University of Arizona
Pitcher irrigation techniques and uses... Peace Corps Master's International Program in Forestry, Michigan Technological University
Greywater for Trees and Landscape from The Overstory, an agroforestry ejournal
Microcatchment from The Overstory, an agroforestry ejournal
Solar-Powered Livestock Watering Systems National Center for Appropriate Technology (USA)
Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools and Methods National Center for Appropriate Technology (USA)
Your rainwater tank could be a death trap, warns Archicentre (an arm of the Australian Institute of Architects). After prolonged rainfall, not only is the tank full and extremely heavy, but the ground supporting it may have been softened. Timber stands are a particular danger and should be checked regularly for signs of deterioration or leaning. Unstable make-shift storages using wheeelie bins or other containers can also be dangerous. Source: Is Your Rainwater Tank Stand Safe? (March 2013)Bundaberg rain garden could be first of many
A bio-retention basin has been constructed to reduce runoff from Bagara Streetscape. Besides helping to protect Burkitts Reef from contaminated water, the "rain garden" provides urban green space and biodiversity. This is the first raingarden in the region, but Bundaberg Regional Council anticipates that more will be built in new developments. Source: First rain garden in region will benefit coastal environment
Water tanks implicated in dengue threat
A recently published paper suggests that climate change won't directly increase the risk of dengue fever, because conditions are already suitable for transmission of the disease. It's the proliferation of domestic rainwater tanks that could lead to its spread by providing breeding grounds for the mosquito vector. An EScience News report here: Humans, not climate, driving increased dengue risk in Australia. Original paper here: Australia's Dengue Risk Driven by Human Adaptation to Climate Change (PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases). (May 2009)
Gold Coast water tank inspections
Beginning 27th April, a six month program of door-to-door inspections of homes the Gold Coast City Council knows to have tanks will commence, "to help keep owners up to date on how to maintain their tank systems to protect their own health and safety." A public education campaign on the topic will also be conducted during this time. More at the GCCC website here: 'Checkup' program to help keep rainwater tanks healthy. (April 2009)
Poly tank recycling
Can poly tanks be recycled after they reach the end of their useful life? If so, how? With homeowners being encouraged to install rainwater tanks at home to help overcome our water supply problems, this issue is becoming increasingly important. One Adelaide resident has been asking tank suppliers some tough questions and you can read the responses at The Great Australian Poly Tank Debate - can spent tanks be recycled?
What to do with swimming pool water during repairs?
When Moreton Bay Regional Council needs to conduct maintenance and repair on its public swimming pools, the water won't be wasted. It has commissioned eight giant custom-made bladders to hold water during repairs, avoiding the need to use town water to refill the pools (now banned in SEQld) or truck in water at great expense. Source (Moreton Bay Regional Council): Water conservation bladders save thousands of dollars (August, 2008)
Boyce Garden water tanks out of sight
New underground water tanks at The University of Queensland Boyce Garden, Toowoomba, will help solve the problem of maintaining and developing the gardens while preserving the character of the heritage-listed property. More at the University of Queensland website here: Heritage UQ Boyce Garden drought-proofed in Toowoomba (August, 2008)
Including the kitchen sink
Queensland invention the Hughie Sink is designed to fit into an average sink, so that used water can be easily collected and carried to the garden for watering plants. It has won the Smart Approved WaterMark national award for outstanding outstanding water saving product or service. More information at the Smart Approved WaterMark website (July 2008)
Smarter irrigation for Ipswich sports grounds
Several sports field in Ipswich have had a new watering system installed that is expected to save water and money. Soil moisture sensors in the root zone linked to a computerised watering system will ensure that water is only applied when required. Software will enable complex irrigation schedules that would be otherwise difficult to achieve. Read more from Ipswich City Council here: New water sensors keep fields green and save money
More Tanks or New Dams?
A study produced on behalf of a number of environmental groups suggests that major projects like desalination plants and new dams could be delayed if even 5% of households per year in SE QLD and Sydney installed rainwater tanks. Water collection from roofs is particularly efficient in times of low rainfall, as soil does not have to be saturated to achieve runoff. More information at the Australian Conservation Foundation website: Rainwater tanks a viable urban water solution.