Water Journal : Water Journal November 2012-1
demand management refereed paper technical features 90 NOVEMBER 2012 water Household survey The focus for the community survey was to determine the uptake of rainwater tanks, the reasons for their installation, and what other inducements would motivate households to purchase one in the future. A summary of rainwater tank ownership as obtained from the survey is presented in Table 5, along with the connection types. The average household size from the survey was determined as 3.11 persons, with 46 of the 100 households surveyed having only one or two residents, with a majority being retirees (Table 3). The survey found that 41% of households with town water supply reported they have a rainwater tank, of which 15% had the rainwater tank connected to both internal and external uses. This uptake is substantially higher than the 9.5% figure obtained from the council rebate records. The rebate scheme approval record is likely to underestimate total tank installations for two reasons. Firstly, under BASIX requirements in NSW (Sydney Water, 2009) rainwater tanks are mandatory for new homes/ major renovations and no rebate is available. Eight per cent of the households that were surveyed had installed rainwater tanks due to the BASIX requirements. Secondly, a further 8% of households reported they installed rainwater tanks of less than 2000L capacity and, hence, were not eligible for the subsidy (Table 2). This indicates an overall rainwater tank uptake of approximately 26%, which is still substantially less than the survey figure of 41% for the GLGA, suggesting that the sample size that was used (100 households) probably biased the results towards tank owners. Participants were asked when the rainwater tanks were installed. Almost 95% of the households had the rainwater tanks installed after 2003 when the Gosford City Council rainwater tank rebate program and the water restrictions began. This response appears to match with the data obtained from the rainwater tank approval records (Figure 4). Reasons for rainwater tank installation Participants with rainwater tanks were asked what their reasons were for the installation. Responses included: • For external non-potable usage including: – to top up a swimming pool – to water their garden – to wash their vehicles or boats – to clean or wash down hard surfaces, windows, pets or surfboards; • Drought and water shortage awareness; • Not having access to town water supply; • To meet mandatory BASIX requirements; or • To conserve potable water. Households with no rainwater tank Households that did not have rainwater tanks were asked why they had not installed a tank. The responses included: • Having access to bore water; • Major barrier being costs associated with uptake; • Space or location being an issue; • Not requiring additional water supply as they use minimal water; not using water outdoors; and/or have native or self-sufficient gardens that do not require watering; • The use of other methods to capture rainwater, such as diverting rainwater from the roof to the swimming pool through piping, and collecting rainwater in drums for outdoor use; or • Having plans for a renovation/rebuilding in the near future and will install as part of the project. Out of the 59 households without a rainwater tank (Table 5), 43 were considering installation in the future. Eight of the households were not considering installation, as they have access to bore water and reported that the supply is adequate for their external water uses. The participants without rainwater tanks were asked what would improve the likelihood of them installing a rainwater tank. Over 50% of respondents cited the high cost of purchasing and installing a rainwater tank as the main obstacle. Some suggested better rebates and subsidy schemes, or interest-free loans for installing rainwater tanks, would be helpful for them to consider installing a tank. In addition, one of the most common concerns was the availability of comprehensive information on: • Finding a suitable location for installing a rainwater tank; • Current rebate programs; • The economical feasibility of a rainwater tank uptake; and • The operation and maintenance of a rainwater tank. Rainwater Tank and Income Group Figure 5 presents the distribution of installed rainwater tanks by the income group of the household’s suburb. It shows a strong uptake for suburbs in the $1,400 to $1,699 group, with 56% Table 5. Rainwater tank ownership and connection type. Tank Installation Percent of Households Total No – Not Considering 16% 59% No – Are Considering 43% Yes – External Use Only 26% 41% Yes – External Use + Internal Connections 15% Total 100% 100% 80% 90% 100% ate 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% ertankuptakera 0% 10% 20% 30% $650 $799 $800$999 $1000$1199 $1200$1399 $1400$1699 $1700$1999 Rainwate $650-$799 $800-$999 $1,000-$1,199 $1,200-$1,399 $1,400-$1,699 $1,700-$1,999 Gross weekly family income group Figure 5. Rainwater tank uptake rate for different income groups.
Water Journal December 2012
Water Journal September 2012-1