It has become economically essential for many folk to have an independent water supply. Metered water charged by city councils is making it uneconomic, even expensive, to water the home garden. Home-owner’s amount of waste water is estimated and charged whether it goes down the waste-water pipe or onto the garden.

If your water is metered and you pay for what you use, then it’s economical to catch your rainwater. No meter. No water bill. Some city councils charge water and waste-water as part of the rates; For these folk there will be no financial advantage. In Auckland, you are charged for waste-water by the kilo-litre even if you use it all to water your lawn and garden. You’ll still be charged for every litre of used laundry water you recycle as if it went down the drain.

Helen from Auckland explains the problem

Said Helen; “My water bill has gone from around $60 a month to $139. This is because of the garden watering.

I don’t object to the water charge but they are charging me 78% of the water use for wastewater – at $2.28kl. So another words…….the water on the garden is being charged as if it were going down the waste drains also.

When it was part of the rates, wastewater was a fixed charge of around $450 a year. So now it’s doubled.

I contacted watercare who say they have numerous calls about it. What are they going to do?

They say I can get a water tank – sure, I don’t have the thousands of dollars for one of them. I know what they cost…

Or I can get a second meter hooked up so that it just monitors water use to hoses, and therefore would not occur the water charge. Excellent, went off and checked prices.

The Socam 20mm meter (they use) is $144.50 + GST. Ring them back, no, we are not allowed to install it ourselves, we must have them do it.

So I have to apply and get a quote.

Quote is: WATER METER FOR IRRIGATION $1,180.00 WATER AND/OR WASTEWATER CONNECTION PROCESSING $122.61

Total Excl GST; $1,302.61 GST (15%) $195.39 Total After Tax $1,498.00

This quote after ridiculous emails back and forth asking me to send drawings, mark where it should go (I don’t have a choice, they specify where it must go), and then get me to mark where the existing meter is on their photo. I do this and remind them they know this already, they read it every 2 months.

Why the price on quote? Well the meter must have a backflow device. Actually, no it doesn’t, they just insist it does. Also this does not include the pipes from the meter to our hoses, we have to arrange this with our plumber. So add that onto it to.

So why the price? Because.

Husband rang them and one other thing they said, was as our section is only 500sqm, we couldn’t have much of a garden anyway.

See here for pics: http://www.gpforums.co.nz/thread/432682/9/?

That’s not all of it either.”

Helen, Auckland.

Even if you are renting, your landlord may allow you to install a couple of rainwater tanks. Intercept the rain-water flowing down the downpipe. Without chlorine added, it may even taste sweeter than the town supply.

Buy a large plastic barrel. In NZ we call them drums. Drum recyclers in NZ sell these second-hand. Make sure they have only been used to hold sweeteners or food products. They may cost about NZD $18 each drum. It is easy to drill holes in them to install plumbing fittings like a tap or pipe.

Water for the Garden

Your garden needs a lot of water in summer. Catching rain water in drums will make this water free.

Hamilton residential water and waste-water is charged as part of the rates so there will be no saving.

Rainwater drums can be made to look attractive by surrounding them with timber.

You can grow plants on and around the water tanks. This may keep them cooler and darker thus reducing algae growth.

If they are high on a stand you’ll have greater water pressure. Paint them white to reflect sunlight and keep cooler. They will be unstable in an earthquake when you’ll need water desperately.

Water tanks can be cubic too. They can sit on a stand.

Other containers can also be used to catch rain-water.

Photo Credits

Boy drinking water by Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia at http://www.flickr.com/photos/barefootcollege/3926003256

Rain on a leaf by .faramarz at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fhashemi/43946478

Wood surrounded rain barrel by agrilifetoday at http://www.flickr.com/photos/agrilifetoday/4974402054

Three blue rain barrels by eustatic at http://www.flickr.com/photos/eustatic/5358092972

Two grey rainwater barrels by Earthworm at http://www.flickr.com/photos/earthworm/327355909

3 wood covered barrels by agrilifetoday at http://www.flickr.com/photos/agrilifetoday/4974400828

Square tanks by jalexartis at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fayncbikerjaa/6919729455

Single black water barrel byjalexartis at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fayncbikerjaa/6687071343

White water tank by Short Journeys at http://www.flickr.com/photos/famshort/1419400585/

Man with grey water hose by Short Journeys at http://www.flickr.com/photos/famshort/1529227190

Trash bin water tank by Short Journeys at http://www.flickr.com/photos/famshort/1414726680

View both parts of this Slideshare on how to catch and store rainwater.

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