In the process of building a new house, a homeowner needs to meet certain local council requirements. One notable requirement is the installation of a rainwater harvesting system. Another notable requirement is good stormwater planning, which goes together with the proper setting up of a stormwater tank.

In order to meet these requirements, it’s important to know the differences between stormwater and rainwater. These are highlighted below.

Stormwater is defined as the water which drains off a certain land area from rain. This includes the drops of rain that have fallen on roofs, directed through downpipes and gutters into drains or onto land, plus the rain that falls on ground surfaces like driveways, roads, gardens, lawns, and footpaths.

Rainwater, on the other hand, refers only to raindrops that have fallen on the roof. These you can harvest into small water tanks instead of letting them fall to the ground, as raindrops are purer than ordinary tap water.


Many properties in Australia are attached to a stormwater system, which isn’t the same as the sewer system. Stormwater, unlike sewage, generally isn’t treated before discharge into the sea or different waterways.


How Rainwater is Used in Australia

Typically, a household pays to be connected to water mains or treated water supply, and if there are many people living in a household, it’s expected that the household pay more, in turn.

That said, it follows that costs for water can quickly ramp up when a household is fully reliant on mains water. Aside from costs, another downside to full dependence on mains water is the issue of a supplier gradually or suddenly becoming unable to supply water due to drought and system maintenance.

With rainwater in the picture, household costs for water decrease, and a household no longer has to worry about possible shutdowns to water supply.

How Stormwater is Used in Australia

Stormwater is often used for watering public gardens and parks, golf courses, and sports fields once it has been treated, and thus made safer. However, households can also use stormwater by capturing it, and then using it as is in low-risk tasks like toilet flushing and garden watering (if they opt to not filter it so it can also be used for washing hands and even for doing the laundry). When a household does, they help prevent the overflow of a stormwater system, help reduce downstream environmental impact, and save potable water.

Making the Most of Stormwater and Rainwater

Proper storage is one of the things that allow you to make the most out of stormwater and rainwater, so avoid using just any barrel to store water. Instead, invest in any high-quality stainless steel or poly tank.

It’s also important to invest in a pump, a machine that allows for the easier use of stored stormwater and rainwater. The pump should be purchased together with a number of filters, which make collected water cleaner.

Proper maintenance of the systems that collect rainwater and stormwater is also important. A poorly-maintained system is unable to serve your household well in the long run.