Outside the home

Using water wisely does not stop inside your home.  A significant amount of water is used outside in the garden.  There are also some great opportunities to both harvest and re-use water, reducing the demand on our water supplies.


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Ballarat is dry place with an average of less than 700 mm rain a year.   Water is a precious resource

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The {tip title="Evaporation Rate" content="The speed at which water evaporates when exposed to open air"}Evaporation Rate {/tip} in Ballarat varies greatly

Area Summer Rate (per day) Winter Rate (per day)
Ballarat 10 8
Buninyong 15 8

The BOM provides accurate information regarding rainfall.

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You can do the following things to reduce your water usage

  • Stop dripping taps
  • Shorter showers
  • Wash cars on grass

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Central Highlands Water provides some useful tips and contact points for issues with broken pipes



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Harvesting rainwater

Rainwater tanks can save up to 40,000 litres per household per year, can reduce your water bills and allow you to be prepared for times of low rainfall, so you can still maintain your garden. Capturing rainwater reduces the load on stormwater systems because roof runoff is not flushed into the drains.

The Living Victoria Water Rebate Program will provide rebates to households and businesses for the installation of a rainwater tank.

Rainwater use in Urban Communities, produced by the Victorian Government provides guidelines for the use of rainwater in areas where reticulated water is available.

If you are within an urban area it is not recommended you use rainwater for drinking or food preparation as the quality is not as reliable as urban drinking water supplies.

There are a number of differences around permits required for water tanks, so it can be a little complicated to answer, but here are the basics:

If the property is within a Heritage overlay a permit is required if,

        1. The rainwater tank is visible from a street ( other than a lane)
        2. or public park.
      1. If the property is within a Residential 1 Zone with no other overlays and the proposed water tank is for an existing dwelling, then a planning permit is not required.
      2. General domestic property > 300sqm in Res1 zone does not require a planning permit, if < 300sqm, planning permit is required for installation of water tank, however if tank is < 4500 Litre then it does not require a planning permit
      3. If the use of the property is listed in Section 2 Use of the Ballarat Planning Scheme or any other zone or overlay trigger the need for a planning permit, then a planning permit is required.

However, if the water tank is less than 4500 litres, there is an exemption under the Ballarat Planning Scheme. As there are a number of different scenarios, customers can come into the City of Ballarat’s Phoenix building and talk to the customer service team member for advice, Planning – Building counter is manned 8.30am to 5 pm, 5 days a week.

      • ReNew, a DIY sustainability magazine produced by the Alternative Technology Association have compiled a series of buyers guides, including one on Rainwater tanks, to provide consumers with independent advice on sustainable products for their home.  These can be purchased on-line, or you can pop into the Smart Living Centre and pick up a hard copy for free!

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If you live outside of town, chances are you have a septic tank.  Making sure your septic tank is working as it should is important in ensuring that they don’t contaminate the local environment including our waterways.   EPA have produced a Code of Practice – Onsite wastewater management which includes information on the responsibilities of the property owner.

If you are building out of town and plan to install a septic tank you will need to contact your local council as permits are required. For further information contact your local council.

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Gardens need water, but you don't have to waste it.  Your plants can get all the water they need if you use sensible methods.

Look at John Ditchburns site! http://www.urbanfoodgarden.org/

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We all enjoy cooling off on a hot summer’s day.  If you have your own pool, reducing water evaporation, harvesting rainwater and properly maintaining your pool will all help you to keep doing this whilst also being water efficient. Visit Save Water for some tips on how to do this.

Swimming pool covers significantly reduce evaporative losses and can save between 11,000L and 30,000L of water a year. The Victorian Government’s rebate program has ended, but covers still make good sense.

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What is stormwater?

Stormwater drains take water from our streets to the waterways. Any rubbish and pollutants from our homes and streets, such as detergents and oils, get washed into stormwater drains and into waterways. Two things in our backyards have the biggest impact on stormwater:

Even small quantities of toxic chemicals can have terrible consequences if they reach our creeks and estuaries. Household chemicals can also cause stormwater pollution in your backyard. If the vegetable garden is under attack from snails or slugs, or is being overrun by weeds, we often use pesticides or herbicides to get these problems under control. Chemicals are often toxic and include pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, residue from treated timbers and swimming pool chemicals like chlorine. Reduce the use of harmful detergents and other household and car chemicals. Look for environmentally friendly alternatives and use sparingly.

Don’t wash cars on hard surfaces, where runoff into stormwater drains is maximised. Instead, wash your car on a grassed surface to minimise runoff.

City of Ballarat – 10 Tips For Cleaner Waterways
Stormwater harvesting and recycled water: Dr Tim Fletcher on how Ballarat can survive.



Waterwatch is a national community water monitoring program with an environmental education and awareness focus. It brings together schools, community, Landcare groups, landowners, councils, water managers and individuals to test the quality of their local stream or water body so action can be taken to maintain or improve the water quality.

Corangamite CMA Waterwatch
North Central CMA Waterwatch

Car Washing

If every Australian car were washed once a month on the driveway, we’d be producing more than 6 billion litres of stormwater. Mixed into that stormwater would be around 6 million litres of car wash detergent and who knows how much oil, grease and mud? What we do know is that detergents, oil, grease and mud all have environmental consequences in our waterways.

So next time you wash your car, stop and consider the consequences of detergents, oil, grease or mud in our creeks, rivers and wetlands – click here to find out how to keep your car clean without damaging our environment. Wash your car, or boat at a car wash that recycles water and detergents. If washing the car (or dog) at home, washing it on the lawn prevents water and detergent flowing down the drain. Choose a different place on the lawn each time.

Lawns have a limited ability to uptake the nutrients from detergents. If the lawn becomes water-logged or deteriorates, your car may be compacting the soil or the nutrient levels are too high. Aerate the lawn and switch to the car wash for a few months.


Droppings from cats and dogs can wash into stormwater drains and into local waterways. This runoff contains excess nutrient which can influence algal blooms.  Follow the following links to find out more about being a responsible pet owner

Garden Fertilisers

Garden fertilisers can wash into stormwater drains and into rivers, upsetting the balance and causing things like algal blooms.  Using fertiliser sparingly and at appropriate times of year (when the chance of runoff into stormwater is reduced) will help minimise excessive nutrient build up in rivers.