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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > Construction > Building and plumbing > Building > Water supply systems

 Water supply systems

Buildings no longer have to meet compulsory water savings targets, following the repeal of laws mandating the installation of water supply systems on 1 February 2013.

Previously, all new homes and commercial and industrial buildings in Queensland were required to install rainwater tanks or other water supply systems such as greywater treatment plants.

Provisions have been made for local governments to opt-in to water savings requirements in recognition of Queensland’s varying climatic conditions and regional circumstances. A list of participating local governments will be provided as they are approved.

Builders in these local government areas will still need to comply with water savings requirements.

Water supply systems such as rainwater tanks and grey water treatment plants can still be installed voluntarily by homeowners and builders in all areas of the state.

Builders who install a water saving system (either voluntarily or to meet local government requirements) must comply with the health and safety standards set out in the Queensland Development Code Part 4.2 – Rainwater tanks and other supplementary water supply systems (for residential – class 1, 2 and 10 - buildings) and Part 4.3 – Supplementary water sources – commercial buildings (for commercial and industrial buildings - classes 3 to 9). To view the relevant Queensland Development Code Parts.

For information on water savings targets that applied prior to 1 February 2013 please refer to water savings targets.  

Requirements for areas where a local government has opted-in

Councils can apply to opt-in to requirements under the Queensland Development Code (QDC) Parts 4.2 and/or 4.3. Under the opt-in arrangements QDC 4.2 only applies to new class 1 and 10 buildings (i.e. houses only, not multi-unit residential buildings (class 2)). The local government can also request to vary some aspects of the QDC. For example, it may only apply to lots over a certain size or only to part of their council area.

A list of local governments to opt-in will be provided as they are approved.

All building development applications lodged for the construction of new buildings in a local government area that has opted in to QDC 4.2 and/or QDC 4.3 must meet the following requirements.

Residential buildings (class 1 and 10)

The requirements can be achieved through the application of one, or a combination of the following options:

  • a rainwater tank
  • an approved greywater treatment plant
  • dual reticulation
  • communal rainwater tanks
  • stormwater re-use.

When a rainwater tank is used to comply with the requirements, the minimum capacity and connection standards specified for tank installation in the QDC 4.2 are:

  • single, detached houses must install a rainwater tank with a minimum 5,000 litre capacity
  • non-detached houses (such as terrace houses, townhouses and semi-detached houses) must install a rainwater tank with a minimum 3,000 litre capacity
  • all rainwater tanks must receive rainfall from at least half of the available roof catchment area or 100 square metres, whichever is lesser
  • provisions must be made during installation for tanks to be connected for internal use to all toilet cisterns, washing machine cold water taps and for external use to at least one tap, typically a garden tap
  • to ensure internal fixtures supplied from a rainwater tank have a continuous supply of water, the installation of an automatic switching device or a trickle top-up system may be required.

New residential buildings that are required to install a supplementary water supply system must meet the minimum health and safety standards set out in the QDC 4.2. These include:

  • measures to prevent insects and vermin from entering or breeding in a tank
  • measures to prevent contaminants from entering the tank
  • requirements for signage on tanks
  • ensuring that stands and supports, openings and overflows are suitably designed and constructed.

For more information on the requirements for residential buildings refer to the Queensland Development Code Part 4.2 – Rainwater tanks and other supplementary water supply systems.

Commercial and industrial buildings (classes 3 to 9)

The requirements can be achieved through the application of one of the following measures:

  • a rainwater tank
  • a water storage tank
  • a common tank
  • an approved greywater treatment plant.

Minimum installation and capacity standards are required, as well as standards for water quality, health and safety.

For more information on the requirements for commercial and industrial buildings refer to the Queensland Development Code Part 4.3 – Supplementary water sources – commercial buildings.

Voluntary installations

Builders and property owners in any area can voluntarily install a rainwater tank or other supplementary water supply system regardless of whether the local government has opted-in to the requirements.

Where a rainwater tank or other supplementary water system is voluntarily installed it will 
need to comply with the appropriate health and safety standards under the Queensland Development Code Part 4.2 – Rainwater tanks and other supplementary water supply systems or Part 4.3 – Supplementary water sources – commercial buildings.

A rainwater tank can be voluntarily installed for outdoor use only (such as gardening) or for both outdoor and indoor use (such as for flushing the toilet or to supply cold water to the washing machine).

Although a plumbing approval is not required with a voluntarily installation, a notifiable work form (Plumbing Form 4) must be lodged by the plumber if the collected water from a rainwater tank is to be used inside an existing home. A building approval may also be required for large rainwater tanks or where the property is located in a tropical cyclone area regardless of its size. The local government authority may also have siting and boundary setback requirements for the installation of a rainwater tank.

This simple installation checklist (PDF, 91KB) can help you choose the right rainwater tank for your property.

Checklist courtesy of Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia.

More information

For more information about rainwater tank use in our local area contact your local government.

Information for local government

A local government may apply to the Minister to opt-in to the provisions in the Queensland Development Code Part 4.2 – Rainwater tanks and other supplementary water supply systems and/or Part 4.3 – Supplementary water sources – commercial buildings. An application will be considered only when the local government can demonstrate that introducing the requirements have the potential to deliver a net benefit to the local community.

Local governments should refer to the Assessment Issues section of the ​Queensland Government’s Regulatory Impact Statement​ System Guidelines (PDF, 772KB) to identify whether the requirements would provide a net benefit to their community.

An application form has been developed to assist in the opting in process. The completed form should be provided to the Minister along with the evidence showing that a net benefit to the community will be achieved.

Local governments may also apply to vary requirements in the applicable QDC parts, such as specifiying the lots over a certain size or only to a part area of their council.

Local governments that have opted into requirements   

Toowoomba Regional Council

Since 1 September 2014 rainwater tanks or other supplementary water supply systems have been required in the Toowoomba Regional Council area when a building development application is submitted for some new commercial buildings and for a new single detached house on a lot over 250 square metres.

New houses

The QDC 4.2 requirements will only apply to new single detached houses (class 1a(i) buildings) on properties over 250 square metres in lot area. Detached houses on lots of 250 square metres and less will be excluded from requiring a rainwater tank.
The requirements will also not apply to other new class 1 buildings. Therefore attached dwellings such as townhouses and villa units (class 1a(ii) buildings), and guest houses and boarding houses (class 1b buildings), will not be required to install rainwater tanks.

New commercial buildings

The QDC 4.3 requirements will apply to new commercial buildings, but only for classes 5 to 9 (not classes 3 and 4). For instance, new motels and school dorm accommodation (class 3 buildings) and residences above a shop or an office (class 4 buildings), will not be required to install rainwater tanks.

For more information, refer to Building and Plumbing Newsflash 532.

Gold Coast City Council (Pimpama–Coomera part area only)

On 5 June 2015 City of Gold Coast Council was approved to opt-in to QDC 4.2 and QDC 4.3 in the Pimpama-Coomera dual reticulation pipe network area only.

New houses and commercial buildings on properties located in the area covered by dual reticulation pipe network (which was installed as part of the Pimpama-Coomera Class A+ recycled water scheme) must be connected to the network. These properties need to be connected to the existing dual reticulation pipe network until the dual pipe network has been replaced with a single pipe network.

For more information, refer to Building and Plumbing Newsflash 541.   

Previous requirements

For information on the requirements that applied prior to 31 January 2013, go to water savings targets. ​

Related resources

​​Queensland Government's Regulatory Impact Statement system Guidelines


Last updated 10 July 2017    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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