Sink or SWMM: Simulating the Hydrological Effects of Retention Tanks in a Small Urban Catchment

  • Richard J. B. Gale
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10711)


A 12 ha urban catchment in Adelaide, South Australia is experiencing infill development. The impacts of urban developments on the catchment’s hydrological regime were examined. Rather than undertaking a costly upgrade of the stormwater system to mitigate these impacts, the City of West Torrens Council proposed the catchment-wide provision of rainwater retention tanks. A stormwater management model (SWMM) was used to simulate the runoff from the catchment at various stages of urbanization. Aerial imagery was used to develop a model of the catchment in 1993. Subsequent models were produced based on observed infill and impervious area increases in 2007 and 2015, with a projected scenario of 2040. The impacts of three different retention tank capacities (2, 5 & 10 kL) were investigated, along with three rates of household adoption of rainwater tanks (50, 75 & 100% of properties). Three usage levels for retained rainwater were also investigated: (1) All purposes except kitchen use and bathing; (2) solely outside the house, largely for irrigation; (3) solely for flushing toilets and laundry. Increases in the uptake of tanks in the catchment, tank sizes and water use from the tanks reduced total catchment runoff and peak flows, and augmented water savings. For the 2040 development scenario, runoff volume was reduced by 7.8–17.5%, five-year peak flow was reduced by 0.4–6.7% and each house saved around 24 kL of water a year with a 5 kL tank. The most influential rainwater tank variable was the percentage of properties equipped with tanks. It is recommended that as many houses as possible have 5 kL tanks installed, with the tanks plumbed to enable daily water use. This would lower the peak flow and total runoff below 1993 levels, cost the council less than $550 000 and provide homeowners with an alternative water source.


Simulation and modelling Urban design Stormwater management Hydrology 



I should like to thank Dr. Baden Myers for his sage advice and ready provision of relevant data. I should also like to thank Mr. Andrew King, from the City of West Torrens Council, whose thoughts provided the catalyst for this investigation.


  1. Argue, J. (ed.): Water Sensitive Urban Design: Basic Procedures for ‘Source Control’ of Stormwater: A Handbook for Australian Practice. Urban Water Resources Centre, Adelaide (2004)Google Scholar
  2. Chong, M., Sharma, A., Umapathi, S., Cook, S.: Understanding the mains water saving from mandated rainwater tanks using water balance modelling and analysis with inputs from on-site audited parameters. Urban Water Security Research Alliance, Brisbane (2012)Google Scholar
  3. Gale, R.J.B.: The effectiveness of retention tanks on preserving peak flow and runoff volume from a small urban catchment experiencing infill development (Unpublished MSc thesis). University of South Australia, Adelaide (2015)Google Scholar
  4. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (SA DEWNR), Government of South Australia, Adelaide: Water sensitive urban design – creating more liveable and water sensitive cities for South Australia (2013)Google Scholar
  5. Department of Planning and Local Government (SA DPLG), Government of South Australia, Adelaide: The 30 year plan for Greater Adelaide: a volume of the South Australian planning strategy (2010)Google Scholar
  6. Guillon, A., Kovacs, Y., Roux, C., Sénéchal, C.: Rain water reusing for watering purposes: what storage capacity is needed and what benefits for the sewer networks? In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Urban Drainage. International Water Association and International Association on Hydraulic Engineering and Research, Paris (2008)Google Scholar
  7. Jacobsen, C.: Identification and quantification of the hydrological impacts of imperviousness in urban catchments: a review. J. Environ. Manag. 92(6), 1438–1448 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. LMNO Engineering, Research, and Software, Ltd. (LMNO): Manning’s n coefficients for open channel flow (2000).
  9. Marsden Jacobs Associates: Securing Australia’s urban water supplies: opportunities and impediments. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Government, Canberra (2006)Google Scholar
  10. Marsden Jacobs Associates: The cost-effectiveness of rainwater tanks in urban Australia. National Water Commission, Australian Government, Canberra (2007)Google Scholar
  11. Myers, B., Pezzaniti, D., Kemp, D., Chavoshi, S., Montazeri, M., Sharma, A., Chacko, P., Hewa, G., Tjandraatmadja, G., Cook, S.: Water sensitive urban design impediments and potential: Contributions to the urban water blueprint (phase 1). Task 3: the potential role of WSUD in urban service provision. Goyder Institute for Water Research, Adelaide (2014)Google Scholar
  12. Petrucci, G., Deroubaix, J.-F., de Gouvello, B., Deutsch, J.-C., Bompard, P., Tassin, B.: Rainwater harvesting to control stormwater runoff in suburban areas. An experimental case-study. Urban Water J. 9(1), 45–55 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pezzaniti, D.: Drainage System Benefits of Catchment-Wide Use of Rainwater Tanks. Urban Water Resources Centre, Adelaide (2003)Google Scholar
  14. Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA): Inflation calculator (2015).
  15. Rossman, L.: Storm water management model user’s manual version 5.0. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati (2010)Google Scholar
  16. Sharma, A., Begbie, D., Gardner, T.: Rainwater Tank Systems for Urban Water Supply. IWA Publishing, London (2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations