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Rainwater harvesting tanks save consumers millions

Australian governments are being encouraged to make rainwater harvesting a priority after recent research demonstrated the financial rewards.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' recent Water Account showed rainwater tanks provided 8% of household consumption (156 billion litres), saving owners $507 million in water bills in 2013/14.

Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia (RHAA) Vice Chairman Stuart Heldon said the findings showed governments should do more to support harvesting.

“Rainwater harvesting is a significant part of the Australian water landscape, so why isn’t it a major government policy?” Heldon said.

“There are clear savings for homeowners here but the government seems to prefer homeowners to pay $5.3 billion in water charges, a 14% increase.”

According to an RHAA assessment, rainwater harvesting systems conservatively provided over 247 billion litres during 2013/14.

“It is time to put sustainable water use and rainwater harvesting back on the table for discussion,” Heldon said.

He pointed to Queensland, where the State Government axed rainwater harvesting legislation in 2012 and now plans to run the Gold Coast desalination plant continuously from 2020.

The Bureau report found Queensland had the country's highest estimated consumption of water from household rainwater tanks with 49 GL (29% of national consumption), followed by New South Wales with 40GL.

Areas outside capital cities had the largest rainwater consumption – 109 GL, or 69% of total consumption.