Making it easier for Aucklanders to collect rainwater

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This consultation closed on 23 September 2020. Thank you for having your say.

We received 399 pieces of feedback. These came via our online feedback form and email.

We also held an online information session on 7 September 2020 where members of the public could hear from key industry experts and ask questions before providing feedback.

If you have any questions related to this project, please email us.

Key feedback themes

  • The majority of people (99%) supported the idea of making it easier to collect rainwater without a resource consent.
  • People wanted to reduce pressure on the mains water network due to drought, climate change and water restrictions
  • Some said it was important to consider their neighbours when deciding on the size and placement of a water tank, in areas where properties were closer together.
  • Due to the varying designs and property layouts, people thought fewer rules and restrictions would make it easier and more flexible to install a rainwater tank
  • Many people felt water tanks were more important than the overall look of a street, whereas others preferred tanks to be placed in less visible areas.

What happens next

  • The first round of engagement has been completed. This feedback has been incorporated into the Section 32 report to accompany the proposed Plan Change(s) (Auckland Unitary Plan and Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan). The proposed plan change will be publicly notified on 9 October 2020.
  • Following this, there will be 20 working days to make a formal submission.
  • These submissions will then be summarised and notified to enable further submissions (that support or oppose original submissions).
  • A hearing report will be prepared and a hearing will be held to enable submitters to speak in person to their submissions.
  • Finally, a decision notice will be released setting out the final form of the plan change(s). Provided no appeals are made to the courts, the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan will then be updated to reflect this final decision.
  • Depending on the outcome of the public notification, and any subsequent appeals, the proposed Plan Changes will take effect in the first half of 2021.

View a copy of the plans

Auckland Unitary Plan Change PC 54 – Enable Rainwater Tanks in Residential and Rural Zones:

Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan PM 13 – Enable Rainwater Tanks in Residential and Rural Zones


This consultation closed on 23 September 2020. Thank you for having your say.

We received 399 pieces of feedback. These came via our online feedback form and email.

We also held an online information session on 7 September 2020 where members of the public could hear from key industry experts and ask questions before providing feedback.

If you have any questions related to this project, please email us.

Key feedback themes

  • The majority of people (99%) supported the idea of making it easier to collect rainwater without a resource consent.
  • People wanted to reduce pressure on the mains water network due to drought, climate change and water restrictions
  • Some said it was important to consider their neighbours when deciding on the size and placement of a water tank, in areas where properties were closer together.
  • Due to the varying designs and property layouts, people thought fewer rules and restrictions would make it easier and more flexible to install a rainwater tank
  • Many people felt water tanks were more important than the overall look of a street, whereas others preferred tanks to be placed in less visible areas.

What happens next

  • The first round of engagement has been completed. This feedback has been incorporated into the Section 32 report to accompany the proposed Plan Change(s) (Auckland Unitary Plan and Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan). The proposed plan change will be publicly notified on 9 October 2020.
  • Following this, there will be 20 working days to make a formal submission.
  • These submissions will then be summarised and notified to enable further submissions (that support or oppose original submissions).
  • A hearing report will be prepared and a hearing will be held to enable submitters to speak in person to their submissions.
  • Finally, a decision notice will be released setting out the final form of the plan change(s). Provided no appeals are made to the courts, the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan will then be updated to reflect this final decision.
  • Depending on the outcome of the public notification, and any subsequent appeals, the proposed Plan Changes will take effect in the first half of 2021.

View a copy of the plans

Auckland Unitary Plan Change PC 54 – Enable Rainwater Tanks in Residential and Rural Zones:

Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan PM 13 – Enable Rainwater Tanks in Residential and Rural Zones


CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

If you have any further questions related to this project please email us.

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    Reading the replies below it appears that my wastewater charge will go up by 33% even if the water doesnt go to sewer. Is this correct. I am metered

    Kiwifrankl asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Kiwifrankl,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding whether your wastewater charges will go up if the rainwater tank water doesn’t go to a sewer.

    If you are installing a rainwater tank for outdoor use only (i.e. for garden irrigation, car-washing and filling your pool) AND your tank is not connected to any household plumbing, the tank does not require a meter on it. 

    Your current wastewater charges are worked out based on the amount of water you take from the mains supply and therefore put into the waste system. If your tank is not connected to the internal plumbing there will be no extra wastewater charges as your tanks water will not be entering the waste water network.

    Hopefully the above information provides clarity.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    The building act 2004 s 11. Pools tanks and dams suggests rainwater tanks are exempt from building consent. Is it an Auckland council requirement

    Kiwifrankl asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Kiwifrankl,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Building Act and whether pools and tanks being exempt from a building consent.

    A Building Consent is needed for a rainwater tank in the following scenarios:

    • Scenario 1: If the rainwater tank is plumbed to a properties internal plumbing, for example, to flush your toilet, or for laundry use (or other internal water needs); and / or
    • Scenario 2: If the rainwater tank does not meet Schedule 1, Exemption 23 requirements of the Building Act.


    Schedule 1, Exemption 23 relates to rainwater tanks that are positioned on supporting structures – specifically, the height of the supporting structure (not to be confused with the height of the tank) versus the volume (capacity) of the rainwater tank. The rules that need to be followed can be found at this link.

    These requirements are not Auckland Council specific, they are a Building Act requirement.

    One way to remove the need for a Building Consent due to Schedule 1, Exemption 23 requirements, is to position your tank directly on the natural ground. By placing a rainwater tank on the natural ground and ensuring it is 35,000L or less in capacity, a Building Consent can be avoided. (However, a Building Consent may still be needed if the tank is plumbed to internal plumbing).

    The reason why a Building Consent is needed if a rainwater tank is to be connected to a household’s internal plumbing, relates to the issue of “backflow” and public health. If there is potential for the tank water to mix with mains water supply and potentially contaminate it, then it may create a public health issue. Therefore any work that could affect this needs to be consented and carried out by an authorised, certifying plumber.

    Hopefully the above information helps.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    I have a black above ground tank when I bought our unit house. It's been used to collect rainwater all the time. How can I be sure that it can be done for indoor use?

    suzanna asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Suzanna,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding whether your above ground tank can be used for indoor use.

    As a first step, it may be a good idea to find a Certifying Plumber to inspect the tank you have to make sure it can easily be set-up for internal use. Following this, if you decide to pursue this option, you’ll then need a Building Consent before the Certifying Plumber begins work. 

    More information on how to obtain a Building Consent can be found here.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    If I install a rainwater tank for garden and pool use is there a) a building consent required. If so at what cost. And b) will there be any additional charges applied to my water or council bills

    Kiwifrankl asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Kiwifrankl,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding the building consent requirements for a tank for outdoor use, costs and additional charges.

    Building Consent requirements

    If you are installing a rainwater tank for outdoor use only (i.e. for garden irrigation, car-washing and filling your pool) AND your tank is not connected to any household plumbing (which is highly likely if the tank is for outdoor purposes only), then as a general rule, no building consent is needed.

    However, a building consent is required if the rainwater tank is to be connected to internal plumbing. Installation through a certifying plumber will also need to be considered if plumbing to internal plumbing.

    Additional charges

    If you do not connect your rainwater tank to the internal plumbing of your property and instead use the water for outdoor uses only, then there are no additional charges to pay.

    However, if you choose to connect your tank to the house and you are also connected to the town water network this may impact your wastewater charges. Please see our answer to Iain B below which provides more detail about this.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    Due to Auckland's Water shortage, why is it so hard to allow home owners to install (rain) water tanks so homes will not have water shortage?. We have plenty rain recently & that'll solve a lot of water shortages in homes.

    Mamko asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Mamko,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding some of the difficulties homes owners face when interested in installing a rainwater tank.

    Council recognise there are a number of benefits associated with collecting rainwater including:

    • Improving household water resourcefulness
    • Managing stormwater runoff
    • Encouraging a waterwise culture
    • Emergency response preparation 
    • Taking the pressure off our dams by using rainwater to flush the toilet and water the garden instead of filtered water

    The intention with the proposed Unitary Plan Change is to make rainwater tanks a “permitted activity” in the majority of scenarios, meaning a resource consent can be avoided.  We really hope this will help remove one of the initial barriers for people. 

    However, the potential need for a resource consent is only one of the work streams being looked at to simplify the installation of rainwater tanks for Aucklanders. The Council team hope to provide more information on additional initiatives to enable rainwater tanks as these develop.

    You may also find some of the documents on this webpage useful or interesting.

    Thank you again for your enquiry and the time taken to provide feedback.

    Ngā mihi,
    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    Why aren’t all new builds required to instal water tanks? Why has it taken climate change to make it clear that every house hold in ALL of NZ should have its own water tank! Why not submerge tanks where possible? Why not subsidise all house holds costs to instal. Will save us all $ in the long run! Why isnt Grey water usage also implemented across NZ! Don’t you think using clean water to wash cars etc is a crime!

    Alison Charles asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Alison,

    Thank you for your enquiry which includes the compulsory installation of rainwater tanks on new developments, underground tanks, incentives/ subsidies and grey water systems to name a few.

    We have noted this feedback and will ensure it is passed on to the rainwater tank project team.

    The intention with the proposed Unitary Plan Change is to make rainwater tanks a “permitted activity” in the majority of scenarios, meaning a resource consent can be avoided.  We really hope this will help remove one of the initial barriers for people. However, as you have mentioned, there are a number of different ways to encourage the wider use of rainwater tanks across Auckland in addition to the Plan Change.

    The proposed Unitary Plan Change is only one of the work streams being looked at, and the Council team hope to provide more information on additional initiatives to enable rainwater tanks as these develop, as well as exploring ways to incentivise, increase uptakes across Auckland and make resourceful use of water in general (including grey water). 

    Thank you again for your enquiry and the time taken to provide feedback which has been noted.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    What sort of price is attached to the rainwater tank?

    Robyn Williams asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Robyn,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding the price of a rainwater tank.

    The cost of a rainwater tank really depends on the size, function, material it’s made of,  and it’s design. There are also many different types of tanks including above-ground, below-ground (underground tanks), and bladder tanks, to name a few.

    Costs typically range anywhere from $200 for a small rain barrel, to $400 - $6,000 for larger tanks. Again, there is a broad cost range depending on the factors mentioned above.

    In addition, resource consent and building consent costs need to be factored in.  Council have recently removed the requirement to pay for a resource consent in the majority of circumstances for rainwater tanks, but the formal application process must still be followed. The proposed Auckland Unitary Plan change to enable rainwater tanks, aims to remove the requirement to go through a resource consent process in the large majority of scenarios.

    However, the Plan Change will not remove the requirement for a “building consent”.  A building consent is required if the rainwater tank is to be connected to internal plumbing. Installation through a certifying plumber will also need to be considered if plumbing to internal plumbing.

    Hopefully this helps to provide some context on the price.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    Is there a document that outlines the exact proposal? From what I can see on the "Have your say" section, it does not seem to be very specific. Rainwater tanks come in a variety of sizes. Is there a size limit that this proposal applies to? Do land coverage rules still apply?

    Paul Walker asked about 2 months ago

    Good afternoon Paul,

    Thank you for your enquiry in relation to more information on the proposal, noting the different sizes rainwater can come in and building coverage rules.

    Currently, “Tanks including retention tanks” over 1 metre in height are defined as a “building” in Chapter J1 of the AUP.  The definition alone does not result in the need for a resource consent however, it triggers the need for “Development Standards” to be met, which may require a resource consent if these rules are infringed.

    As the majority of above ground rainwater tanks of a suitable size to capture a useful amount of rainwater for use are over 1m in height, under the current AUP rules almost every above ground rainwater tank would require a resource consent if placed within a certain distance from a property’s boundary line or if it infringes any development standards. (Varies between zones). 

    The Plan Change wording itself is still under development as we seek public, industry and statutory body feedback, but the general intention within the Unitary Plan is to:

    • Remove rainwater tanks from the definition of “building” and create a new “rainwater tank” definition; and 
    • Make “rainwater tanks” a Permitted Activity and develop standards on a zone by zone basis.


    Based on the above, if rainwater tanks would no longer be classed as “buildings”, rules such as “building coverage” would not apply to them.

    The intention is to notify the proposed Plan Change around the 9 October, at which point it will be in the public domain and can be appealed and challenged as necessary.

    Thank you again for your feedback and question and please do reach out if you’d like further information.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    Can we have the water tank installed at our place through council or we have to buy from somewhere

    Sapina asked about 2 months ago

    Kia ora Sapina,

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding whether a rainwater tank can be installed through Council or whether you would need to source one independently.

    Council do not currently offer any partnerships with rainwater tank suppliers or installers to facilitate the purchase and installation process, this would need to be arranged yourself.

    The intention with the proposed Unitary Plan Change is to make rainwater tanks a “permitted activity” in the majority of scenarios, meaning a resource consent can be avoided.  We’re also working to improve our guidance on tank sizing and are exploring streamlining the building consent process and reducing associated fees which aim to make it easier for people to install a rainwater tank. 

    Should you be interested in a rainwater tank, you can find information on www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/rainwatertank with things to consider including what the purpose of the tank would be for (e.g. outdoor use only, toilet flushing etc), what size tank you might need and where you could have it positioned.

    We also recommend reaching out to different rainwater tank suppliers to understand what your options are and whether their offerings suit what you are looking for.

    Thank you again for your enquiry and the time taken to provide feedback.

    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team

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    With regards to water tanks plumbed into the household piping - bathroom kitchen etc. how will these be metered for wastewater discharge into the sewer?

    Iain B asked 2 months ago

    Good afternoon Iain, 

    Thank you for your enquiry in relation to water metering.

    The process used by Watercare for charging wastewater to those on the municipal supply network plus a rainwater tank is outlined below (taken from Watercare.co.nz). This is currently being reviewed in relation to households harvesting rainwater and may change over the next few months.

    Watercare charge each household a fee for collecting and treating their wastewater. This is your contribution to maintaining our network.
     As a user of rain tank water, you have two options for paying this:

    1. No meter: you pay a fixed charge, which stays the same no matter how much wastewater you discharge.
      • Customers who are both on mains supply and have a rainwater tank get charged 100% of water used and 100% for waste water (based on the mains water used.)
      • (A normal domestic customer with no rainwater tank gets charged 100% of water used and 78.5% for waste water based on the water used. )


    1. Meter: you pay a lower fixed charge, plus a volumetric component. The volumetric component will vary, based on the volume of water that flows through your meter.


    Ngā mihi,

    Auckland Council Engagement Team