A few years ago I decided that it would make sense to gather some rain water to water the garden. Most of the garden tanks I saw then were fairly small and there was a great 500l rectangular shaped one from Gutterwitch that was meant to tuck in under the eaves of your house. I have paths all the way around the house so there wasn’t anywhere obvious that a tank could go to collect rain from a downpipe from the roof.
Then I came up with a cunning plan that perhaps I could collect rain off my shed roof. There was just enough space to fit a tank at the end of the shed – but it didn’t have any guttering. I asked a couple of different plumbers if they could fit some guttering and a down-pipe for me. They looked at me as though I was mad and said No! I bought the tank anyway and eventually found a builder who said of course he could fit some guttering for me. He also fitted the down-pipe converter that sends water to the tank until it is full and then sends it down the down-pipe.
This worked really well. I got a tap on a spike with a hose attachment so that I could access the water without having to go around to the tank each time. There wasn’t enough pressure for me to water the garden generally but it was fantastic for filling a watering can, washing tools etc. There was only one hiccup when the edge of the support for the tank broke – the tank tipped over, squashing all my plants and tipping all the water down the drain that runs all the way down the side of the property (commonly known as Sue’z Canal)!
I would water my veggie garden regularly but it was generally survival of the fittest for the plants in the rest of the garden. But as I started to plant more fruit trees in amongst the shrubs around the garden, I really needed to water much more often and my water bill was tripling over the summer. The time had come to think more seriously about water tanks.
The break through moment for me came when I was reading about a woman who had a dozen rainwater barrels on her property and pumped water from one to the other. Perhaps I could have a tank nearer the house and pump water up to a tank at the back of the property. There was one place that I could put a water tank if I extended a downpipe and put a diverter on it – I could tuck it in the corner behind the garage. I started to investigate water tanks and talked to plumbers about my plan. Again they told me I was mad and that it would cost a fortune if I wanted to do what I was thinking about.
Finally I found ‘The Tank Guy’ (www.thetankguy.co.nz). They had a great range of reasonably priced tanks that even came in a nice green that matched my fence. They would also handle the installation – I was told they do this because plumbers don’t really want to do this. It was very reassuring to be told that I wasn’t mad after all, that yes I could put a tank where I wanted to and yes it would make perfect sense to pump it up to a storage tank up the back of the property. They weren’t sure whether or not there would be enough pressure to water the whole garden from there but that my idea of using a ‘weeper’ hose made sense. If it didn’t work I could just run the water back down to the tank that had the pump attached for watering the garden – or they would be happy to just come and take the back tank away.
So I had two 1000l water tanks installed – the biggest that would fit down the side of the property without bringing in heavy lifting gear – and a very neat little pump with a matching cover that fitted just beside the bottom tank. They also put in a diverter pipe so that when the tank was full I could direct the water back down the original flow path, and a gauge so that I could see how much water was in the tank. I had to wait for the tank to fill up before they could come back and prime the pump and check that everything worked. Conveniently it rained a few days later and the tank filled overnight. However the gauge was still showing empty. I was sure there must be some water in the tank so knocked on the side and got a fright as the gauge suddenly whirred into life and showed full instead (it was faulty).
They set up the pump and showed me how everything worked. The hosepipe wasn’t long enough to reach the back tank so I had to wait to get some more hose. I was all enthused about pumping all the water up the back and collecting some more. But when I went up the back, I looked at the tank in puzzlement and looked round and round but couldn’t find any where to put the water in – there was only a neat little tap at the bottom to get it out. They laughed and apologised that they had forgotten that and dropped by to put in the right attachment so that I could connect up the hose.
Now I have 2000l of rainwater all ready to go. I’m just waiting for summer to come so that there is a need for me to use it.