Removing The Myths About Drinking Water From Rainwater Tanks

There’s been a lot of discussion around water scarcity over time and how we can secure quality drinking water in these times.

I, like many others, have drunk rainwater from tanks all my life without getting sick from it. In many rural areas there’s not always a choice, but when I have the choice in the city to drink from the mains supply or harvest my own rainwater, I choose rainwater every time.

By maintaining some basic standards around my home and tanks, I have access to pure, clean and fresh tasting water all year round.

People who don’t know better still look sideways at me when I say they can drink the water from their tanks.

What about birds, rats and possums drowning in the tank? What about bird poop on the roof washing in to the tank? What about bacteria? What about whatever else might be in the tank, my grandmothers’ tank always had frogs in it?

My answer is – you won’t have to worry about that if you follow the guidelines and use a bit of common sense.

In the good old days, there was a lid on the tanks that almost always got taken off for one reason or another. An open hole in a tank is an invitation to anything seeking water, even kids wanting to cool off on a hot day.

Our current way of life has seen an endless list of rules and guidelines put in place to save us from harming ourselves or others.

In the case of water tanks, we must ensure that any gap is less than 1mm on the inlet and outlet of the tank, which pretty much solves the problem of animals and a lot of debris entering our tanks. By adding additional rain head and first flush devices, we can reduce a lot of the sediment that finds its way in to the tank too.

If we can keep the water relatively clean on the way in, then we just need to maintain it and treat it on the way out.

I liken it to a swimming pool; we have to maintain the balance of the water in the pool or we get sick from it. Lucky for us, our bodies can handle a bit of bacteria if we don’t get it perfect every time, otherwise the authorities would ban us from having pools and spas!

Tanks can be treated for bacteria with specifically designed additives that break down in to oxygen and water, are completely taste and odour free and stay active for 1-2 months. We don’t like the smell of chlorine in our mains water so why use it in our tank water – it breaks down quicker too.

The last stage of having pure, clean water is to filter it on the way out of the tank. There are all sorts of filtration options to cater for everyone’s desire. 

From a basic sediment filter, to dual sediment/carbon filtration, triple/quadruple filtration with UV light to name a few. Different cartridges are available and can take out heavy metals, bacteria and organic compounds to make the water safe for drinking. UV light can kill 99.9% of bacteria in the water, which some people like to have that as peace of mind.

I tend to think I pick up more bacteria from shopping centres and medical centres than I do from my tank water, so I tend to go middle of the road with my filtration.

I know drinking rainwater from tanks isn’t for everyone, but I do know that everyone who drinks rainwater prefers it over any other source of water. When it gets delivered to me for free from the sky, I’m glad that I’m not contributing to the plastic bottle waste problem and I get to drink great tasting water all year round!

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