Do city dwellers have use for polyethylene water tanks?

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Supplying water to millions of residents isn't an easy endeavour, and it's going to become a lot harder.

A July 2015 report from the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development noted that the country's total metropolitan population is expected to grow 41 per cent over the 2012-2031 period.

Distributed energy, or the practice of installing rooftop solar panels to generate power, has prompted discussions on decentralised water collection systems. Specifically, residential building owners may install polyethylene water collection tanks to reduce utility expenses.

What are the options?

The Global Development Research Centre (GDRC) developed a guide for parties interested in developing urban water management strategies, detailing the components of which water collection systems are made:

  • Catchment surfaces are typically roofs that are, ideally, made of aluminium, galvanised iron or fibreglass shingles.
  • Conveyance apparatuses direct water from the catchment surfaces to the storage tanks. A common conveyance apparatus is a gutter connected to a closed PVC pipe that leads into the top of the water tank.
  • Storage tanks may be made of polyethylene, concrete, steel or other materials. Polyethylene tanks are typically the most durable, especially in intense climates where the sun or other oxidating substances may tarnish metal alternatives relatively quickly.

What are the benefits? 

According to the GDRC, rainwater tanks had successfully delivered drinking water to 1.97 million people in China's Gansu Province as of the year 2000. The total carrying capacity of the more than 2.1 million rainwater tanks amounted to just over 73.1 million cubic metres.

Given that areas such as Gansu Province have witnessed positive results, rainwater harvesting is something Australian city dwellers should consider.

However, the type of rainwater systems they employ will differ from those in rural communities. For instance, given the design of multi-level apartments, many buildings would benefit from installing slimline water tanks, which conform to structural profiles and reduce space consumption.

by David Francis

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