Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Parameters Influencing the Sizing of Rainwater Tanks for Use in Houses


Rainwater harvesting has been studied in different countries as a way of easing water availability problems and reducing potable water demand in buildings. The most important factor relating to the efficiency of a rainwater system is the correct sizing of the rainwater tank. Therefore, the objective of this article is to assess the influence of rainfall, roof area, number of residents, potable water demand and rainwater demand on rainwater tank sizing. The analysis was performed by using computer simulation and by considering daily rainfall data for three cities located in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The roof areas considered were 50, 100, 200 and 400 m2; the potable water demands were 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 l per capita per day; the rainwater demands were taken as a percentage of the potable water demand, i.e., 10% to 100% at increments of 10%; and the number of residents was two and four. Results indicated a wide variation of rainwater tank sizes for each city and also for each parameter. The main conclusion that can be made from the study is that rainwater tank sizing for houses must be performed for each specific situation, i.e., considering local rainfall, roof area, potable water demand, rainwater demand and number of residents. Therefore, sizing rainwater tanks according to local tradition is not recommended as it may incur low efficiency.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Appan A (1999) A dual-mode system for harnessing roofwater for non-potable uses. Urban Water 1(4):317–321

  2. Cheng CL (2003) Evaluating water conservation measures for Green Building in Taiwan. Build Environ 38(2):369–379

  3. Cheng CL, Hong YT (2004) Evaluating water utilization in primary schools. Build Environ 39(7):837–845

  4. Coombes PJ, Argue JR, Kuczera G (1999) Figtree Place: a case study in water sensitive urban development (WSUD). Urban Water 1(4):335–343

  5. Deng S (2003) Energy and water uses and their performance explanatory indicators in hotels in Hong Kong. Energy Build 35(8):775–784

  6. Department of Water and Electricity of São Paulo (2004) Available via www.daee.sp.gov.br. Accessed July 2004

  7. Domínguez MA, Schiller E, Serpokryloz N (2001) Sizing of rainwater storage tanks in urban zones. 10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference, Mannheim, Germany

  8. Environment Agency (2003) Harvesting rainwater for domestic uses: an information guide. Available via www.environment-agency.gov.uk. Accessed July 2004

  9. Fewkes A (1999a) The use of rainwater for WC flushing: the field testing of a collection system. Build Environ 34(6):765–772

  10. Fewkes A (1999b) Modelling the performance of rainwater collection systems: towards a generalised approach. Urban Water 1(4):323–333

  11. Ghisi E, Trés ACR (2004) Netuno – aproveitamento de águas pluviais no setor residencial. [Neptune – a computer programme to evaluate potable water savings and rainwater tank capacity in the residential sector] (in Portuguese)

  12. Ghisi E, Ferreira DF (2007) Potential for potable water savings by using rainwater and greywater in a multi-storey residential building in southern Brazil. Build Environ 42(7):2512–2522

  13. Ghisi E, Oliveira SM (2007) Potential for potable water savings by combining the use of rainwater and greywater in houses in southern Brazil. Build Environ 42(4):1731–1742

  14. Ghisi E, Bressan DL, Martini M (2007) Rainwater tank capacity and potential for potable water savings by using rainwater in the residential sector of southeastern Brazil. Build Environ 42(4):1654–1666

  15. Herrmann T, Schmida U (1999) Rainwater utilisation in Germany: efficiency, dimensioning, hydraulic and environmental aspects. Urban Water 1(4):307–316

  16. Kim RH, Lee S, Kim JO (2005) Application of a metal membrane for rainwater utilization: filtration characteristics and membrane fouling. Desalination 177(1–3):121–132

  17. Kim RH, Lee S, Jeong J, Lee JH, Kim YK (2007) Reuse of greywater and rainwater using fiber filter media and metal membrane. Desalination 202(1–3):326–332

  18. Nolde E (2007) Possibilities of rainwater utilisation in densely populated areas including precipitation runoffs from traffic surfaces. Desalination 215(1–3):1–11

  19. Panigrahi B, Panda SN, Mal BC (2007) Rainwater conservation and recycling by optimal size on-farm reservoir. Resour Conserv Recycl 50(4):459–474

  20. SNIS Sistema Nacional de Informações sobre Saneamento (2004) Diagnóstico dos serviços de água e esgotos – 2001 [National Database on Sanitation. Diagnosis on water and sanitation services in the year 2001]. Brasília: Secretaria Especial de Desenvolvimento Urbano da Presidência da República – SEDU/PR: Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada – IPEA. Available via http://www.snis.gov.br/. Accessed July 2004

  21. Van Zyl JE, Piller O, Le Gat Y (2008) Sizing municipal storage tanks based on reliability criteria. J Water Resour Plan Manage 134(6):548–555

  22. Wung TC, Lin SH, Huang SM (2006) Rainwater reuse supply and demand response in urban elementary school of different districts in Taipei. Resour Conserv Recycl 46(2):149–167

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Enedir Ghisi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ghisi, E. Parameters Influencing the Sizing of Rainwater Tanks for Use in Houses. Water Resour Manage 24, 2381–2403 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-009-9557-4

Download citation


  • Rainwater tank sizing
  • Computer simulations
  • Houses
  • Sustainable development