Safety precautions of water tanks

Rainwater is beautiful and is natures hydration that is pure from the sky.

Well, this isn’t all true. Some experts say humans should not consume untreated rainwater but the national guidelines say the risk of getting sick from drinking the rain is low- so what should we do?

Certain strains of bacteria thrive in water tanks. There are also toxic metal traces that can also be found in the roof runoff. Researchers from the James Cook University state that drinking rainwater should be a last resort to the other sources of treated water.

The public view on rainwater is that it is nice tasty and clean, but this will depend on how you are collecting it. Environmental health researcher Kirstin Ross conducted a review of tank water and said there was no evidence of any increased gastrointestinal illness when using tank water for drinking water. However, the microbes are present within the water.

What is in the tanks?

Water tanks store stagnant rain water in a dimly lit, room temperature environment.

The primary contaminants that make the rainwater unsafe to drink are the microorganisms like bacteria which can cause many different gastro type illnesses not to mention the toxic metal that is found in roofing materials or air pollution are not as common, but they do exist. When rainwater was examined all different types of nasties were found to live in it when a CSIRO researcher Magnus Moglia conducted a study of water tank safety in Melbourne.

Feces from birds, snakes and possums are sometimes found within tank water. This is expected as your roof is a catchment and there are often birds and possums crawling on the ceiling or dropping their feces from the trees above the roof.

Once the droppings are on the roof of your home, they can then get washed into your rainwater tank via the rain and storms and then the bacteria will grow and thrive. It is known that most gastro cases are under-reported and often the link between the gastro and the tank water failed to be identified.

Professor Oelgemoeller states there is not enough data about the public getting sick from consuming rainwater. Most times, people assume it was from bad food or a bug from their child’s school. They have a few bad days of being sick then they bounce back fine so often there is no need to visit a doctor.

is it safe to consume rainwaterFollow these safety precautions to keep your tank as healthy as you can if you are still going to continue drinking the tank water.

  • Check your gutters are clean every three months to ensure there is less fecal matter going into your tank. The gutter mesh is an excellent option to try and control what gets washed down into the tank
  • Every three months, it is good to check that the mosquito net is in good condition and is not torn or wrecked to limit the disease-carrying insects from getting into the water.
  • Every few months check your water quality by looking at the colour, the level of sediment and the smell.
  • Check your pumps and pipes every few months to ensure they are all functioning as they should be and are all intact
  • Every year you should consider getting a qualified contractor to remove all the sediment etc. that builds up in the tank.
  • Ensure that you install a genuine pump and tank from a reputable contractor

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