Conserve Water at Home

Through our Sustainable Environment Strategy 2013-2017, the City of Stonnington has committed to conserving water within the municipality, as well as implementing a series of water quality improvements.

You can help us, and yourself, by saving water at home.

Ways to save water at home:

Benefits of saving water

Using water more efficiently has many benefits including:

  • lowering your water bills
  • creating your own independent water supply
  • helping your garden survive through low periods of rain
  • reducing sewage discharged to rivers and the oceans.

Rainwater tanks

Installing a rainwater tank will help sustain Melbourne's water resources for our future. Using rainwater for watering your garden can help reduce the use of potable water by up to 25%.

Note: The City of Stonnington does not support the use of rainwater tanks in urban areas for drinking water because of the potential problems with water quality. This is consistent with advice from Melbourne Water.

Before installing a rainwater tank

  • Check your drainage. Ensure there is adequate drainage that won’t cause any issues for neighbouring properties. The tank needs an overflow pipe that matches the size of the inlet, and can return excess stormwater to the property drain.
  • Check building requirements - Domestic rainwater tanks don’t require a building permit but you should consider where they are placed to ensure there are no issues with neighbours or local amenities.
  • Review planning conditions. You don’t need a planning permit to install domestic rainwater tanks that are 4,500 litres or less, as long as your property is not located in any planning overlays. Click here for more information on the planning requirements to consider for rainwater tanks in the City of Stonnington.
  • Estimate your water use. Consider what the water will be used for and the volume needed.

Greywater treatment systems

Greywater is all non-toilet household waste water, for example water from washing machines, showers and laundry sinks. It can be a good water resource in dry periods but its reuse can carry significant health and environmental risks.

Water from the kitchen and toilet is not allowed to enter a greywater system and greywater cannot be used for drinking purposes. However, greywater can replace mains water for toilet flushing and garden watering but it can only be used on your property.

The City of Stonnington joins the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in supporting water conservation methods and believes that greywater can be reused effectively and safely in households by following a few simple tips.

Greywater Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • use wastewater from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines (preferably the final rinse water)
  • use greywater on the garden
  • rotate which areas of your garden you water - only apply enough water for the soil to absorb
  • wash your hands after watering your garden with greywater.

Don't:

  • water vegetable gardens with greywater if the vegetables are to be eaten raw
  • use greywater that might have faecal contamination, for example waste water from washing nappies
  • use waste water from the kitchen (including dishwashers) due to the large amounts of food wastes and chemicals that can’t be easily broken down by organisms in the soil
  • store greywater for more than 24 hours
  • let children or pets drink or play with greywater
  • allow greywater to leave your property or enter stormwater systems
  • use greywater during wet or rainy periods
  • use greywater  if it’s smelly or your plants aren’t looking healthy.

Before installing a greywater treatment system

There are many products available to help you reuse greywater, from buckets collecting water from your shower to using a water diverter in your washing basin.

Permanent greywater systems can be expensive. If you wish to install a permanent system for greywater reuse, visit the EPA for guidance on on-site waste water management.

You must receive permission from EPA Victoria for any permanent installation. You should also discuss any permanent installations with your local water retailer (South East Water or Yarra Valley Water). Requirements may apply to temporary installations and definitely apply to permanent installations.

Does a greywater diversion system require a permit?

Greywater diversion systems do not require permits or Certificates of Approval to ensure that they do not involve the treatment and disinfection of the greywater prior to use. If the system involves treatment and disinfection of greywater prior to use, it will require Council and EPA approval.

How do I obtain a permit for a domestic greywater treatment system?

Step 1. Confirm that the system chosen for installation is on the list of EPA certified systems.

Step 2. Complete an application form and submit it to Council, together with payment and a scaled set of site plans as detailed on the application form.

Step 3. Arrange a preliminary site inspection by an environmental health officer before installing the system, and a final inspection upon completion. Permits will not be issued until site inspections have been completed.

If you have any questions, or to arrange an onsite inspection please contact Council's Environmental Health Department on 8290 3393.

Important:  Only greywater systems with a current Certificate of Approval from the EPA will be permitted. Irrigation systems must be designed and installed in compliance with EPA Certificate of Approval CA1.5/08. Design capacity will be based on annual rainfall of 525 mm, and assumed soil percolation rate of 15 mm/hr unless a land capacity assessment has been carried out. The system must not be constructed until a 'permit to install' has been issued. The system must not be used until a 'permit to use' has been issued.

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