What do you love most about your yard? Maybe you love the wide open space, or the view. If it’s in a gated community, there are probably HOA requirements about the size and colour of your fence, and that can be a nightmare if you a tinkering DIY type that was looking forward to building a garden shed or growing your own hedge. You probably had detailed plans for your empty lot, or home improvement schemes to embellish the basics.
Maybe you were eye-ing a certain corner as the perfect location for a pool. Or maybe you had daydreams about playing with your dogs, or teaching your kids to throw (and catch) frisbees. Your fantasies may have been greener, with grand visions of establishing a vegetable patch, or turning it into a tropical paradise of colourful, sweetly scented fauna. What probably didn’t cross your mind was a water tank. And yet for many Aussies, it’s pretty essential.
We don’t get much rainfall – 600mm a year in many parts of the continent. About half the country gets even less – just 300mm. This may not seem very serious, because we’re an island nation surrounded by water. Plus, statistics say most of us live a maximum of 50km from the coast – any coast. There are thriving beachside populations and smaller settlements too, but most of us have our homes within a day’s journey of the beach. Lots of lakes too.
Water water everywhere …
Thing is … all those oceans … and a good number of those lakes … are salty. You can’t drink the water or use it around the house without desalination, which is a really expensive process. Salt water can’t even be used on the farm. All this means we have to be extra careful in how we use water. So while many of our houses have pools, even the pools themselves might need a water tank attached to keep them replenished and avoid wastage.
And yet … still … when you think of your wide open yard, a water tank isn’t exactly high on your vision board. That might be due to your perception of tanks. Modern ones can be really pretty, painted in vibrant colours and designed in stylish shapes. These ‘decorative’ aspects are usually restricted to polyethylene or fibreglass tanks. Both are moulded into shape, and while they’re nice(r) to look at, they don’t last as long as concrete ones.
Also, no matter how beautiful they are, you may still consider them an eyesore. It’s not like a tree or a playset – it’s just this massive piece of infrastructure standing in the middle (or corner) of your yard. It can be hard to reconcile it with your aesthetic mission. It’s crucial though, and in some areas, the local government requires a tank as part of Basix legislation. In urban areas, tanks are usually hidden in the attic. They may be positioned next to heaters and air conditioning equipment, so you’ll never really see them. Or they could be on a flat roof next to the clotheslines, phone antennae, satellite dishes, and internet paraphernalia.
Maintaining your view
Out in the suburbs though, or further in the countryside, there are no multi-storey cubby spaces to tuck your tank. You can, however, bury them. Underground concrete water tanks are reinforced with steel, giving them additional stability and helping them withstand the weight of soil above them. These tanks are built with such strength that you can park a car on top of them and the car will be fine. So yes, you can dig your tank beneath the driveway. We don’t advise positioning it under the garage though, because it’ll have to hold the weight of the car plus the house itself. It could also interfere with power lines and plumbing.
Practically speaking, it’s not really feasible to put the tank under the house, because it limits access for maintenance. Plus, there’s no easy way to get under the foundation and place a tank without damaging the entire structure of your house. Other locations are safer, though you still have to talk to your council. They’ll give you a site map ensuring your tank doesn’t interfere with utility lines. As we’ve already mentioned, you can install a swimming pool tank instead, and this one can actually go under the pool.
It’s recommended, because the under-pool tank can double as a detention tank. It doesn’t rain often, but when it does, it can get heavy, and the runoff can overwhelm municipal storm drains. Under-pool detention tanks can help prevent this. They collect excess water then mete it into storm drains. So for both aesthetic and functional reasons, consider getting an in-ground water tank that won’t mess with your ideal version of home horizon.