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9th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999

Section 3: Rainwater Catchment and Droughts

Paper 3.7

Rainfall Harvesting for Indigenous Health in Australia

Carol Conway, Charles Nicholson, Gabriele Bammer, Alan Wade & Graham Henderson
Australian Institute of Aboriginal


Australia is a dry country, particularly in the inland areas. The poor quantity and quality of water available to many Indigenous Australians living in rural and remote locations contributes to their poor health status relative to other Australians. Rainfall harvesting from the roofs of houses and buildings in Indigenous communities can provide a valuable source of potable water, but this harvesting is often inefficient. We report a study of two remote and diverse locations in areas where Indigenous Australians have water supply problems. The first is Giles in central Australia (25.040S, 128.290E) with a median annual rainfall of 119mm, and the second is Thursday Island in the Torres Strait (10.350S, 142.220E) with a median annual rainfall of 1718mm. We describe a means of correlating rainfall records with collecting roof areas, water storage capacity, house occupancy rates, and water consumption rates using a computer program. We determine the optimum match between these factors and the total collectable rainfall for the best, worst, and median years based on historical rainfall records for each location. This quantitative approach to rainfall harvesting could significantly improve the security of potable water supplies for many Indigenous communities in Australia, and thus contribute towards an improvement in Indigenous health.

PDF of full document (8pp, 66kb)

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