21 January 2008

It's only rain... water

I wrote about bottled water on 17 April 2007 and how buying bottled water is very environmentally unsound and followed up with another post on 16 September 2007.

I've just discovered that 'Tasmanian rain' is being bottled, packaged and being sold by a company called Tasmanian Rain.

That's right, 12 bottles of 750 ml each for US$59. May as well pay a bit more and buy wine instead!

Hmmm... Most drinking water in Australia (of which Tasmania is just one state) is rain water, collected in catchment dams and then treated. The northwest of Tasmania where 'Tasmanian rain' is supposed to originate, is supplied their water by Cradle Coast Water.

Nevertheless, Tasmanians who are not connected to the reticulated water supply or who prefer rainwater can source their drinking water from 'Tasmanian rain'.

I like this advice from the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services
Rainwater Tanks

Rainwater from your roof can be a valuable resource particularly in areas where reticulated water is not available. To help ensure good quality water, it is important to correctly install and maintain the rainwater tank and catchment area.

What can go wrong?

Water collected from roofs may be tainted by substances washed off by the rain and may even be unhealthy to drink. These may be chemicals such as components of paint or wood fire deposits or they may be micro-organisms from bird and animal droppings. Contamination can also be caused by decaying leaves and dead animals which have fallen into the tank. In addition, tanks can act as breeding sites for mosquitoes which in some circumstances may be carriers of viral diseases.

Measures to Safeguard Tank Water Quality:
  • Install screens on all tank inlets. Install first flush bypass devices which collect roof debris. These are available from tank suppliers.
  • Roof gutters and screens should be regularly checked and kept clean.
  • Cut back overhanging vegetation to prevent falling leaves, bird droppings and possum faeces from collecting on roof and in gutters. Bird and animal repelling devices could be considered.
  • Keep wood heaters in good repair. Remove 'Chinese hat' type chimney flue cowls.
  • Keep roof in good repair and check with suppliers of materials before using them on a roof used for collecting drinking water.
  • To be assured of microbiologically safe drinking water, disinfect the tank with the appropriate amount of chlorine. If gross contamination occurs, such as finding a dead animal in the tank, empty and refill. In addition, in these cases the tank may need a higher dose of chlorine - seek advice. Until the tank is treated boil all water for drinking and food preparation.
Aside from the environmental cost of manufacturing glass bottles, transport etc, water is a scarce resource in Australia. Water from Australia should not be bottled to be sent offshore. Most of the Australian population are on water restrictions and many gardens have died. It's despicable that a private company is allowed to remove some of our water for huge profits. End of rant.

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