Orange stormwater harvesting

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The NSW regional city of Orange located in the central west of the state is about to become the first centre in Australia to harvest stormwater. It will be trapped from around the city, then treated and supplied to local households.[1]

The council hopes that in an average year stormwater will supply 90 per cent of Orange's water.

Residents of Orange (40,000) are currenly on level 5 water restrictions and the main dam is at 38 per cent capacity.

The plan to harvest storm water, treated it and supply to households.

The council looked at a number of options to try to increase the town's water supply and found this the most sustainable and affordable.

Consideration is also being given to provide environmental flows from stormwatet storages to downstream rivers.


Statistics and facts

  • Residents: 40,000
  • Length of drought: 7 years
  • On average Orange uses 5,000 mega litres of water a year.
  • Storm water harvesting will create an extra 4,000 mega litres.
  • Cost to setup system: around $10 million
  • Gross pollutant traps to try and pull out any litter and sediment type pollutants.
  • The first intense flush that has the vast majority of containments is dumped
  • The the cleaner water beyond that is captured and transferred to storage, allow some detention time and some testing and then put into our main dams.

Vox pop

"I'd be happy to drink it. It wouldn't worry me as long as it was cleaned properly. Not a problem. I drink out of my rainwater tank and it is not filtered so."

"It would be the best think we could ever do because how much rain goes down the drain and it doesn't get used. We could put tanks in the street or anywhere like that. The excess out of the tank will still end up in the creeks or rivers."

Wider adoption in Australia

The move by Orange City Council has attracted wide interest. It is now in talks with other regional councils but hasn't been approached by councils from Australian major capital cities yet


  1. Orange prepares to harvest stormwater, ABC, September 29, 2008
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