Bermuda has a very unique water supply system, where much of our water is collected on roofs and stored in our tanks. That makes water a very precious commodity especially when the rain doesn't come!
So, here are a few tips and reminders from the Ministry of Works and Engineering and Housing, the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protections to not only help you conserve water, but also to help keep your tank clean.
Tips For Conserving Water
- Install low water-use fixtures
- Inspect water tanks and plumbing fixtures regularly
- Repair leaks quickly
- Use a bucket, not a hose, to wash cars
- Take quick showers, not full baths
- Minimize lawn and garden watering
- Do not let the water overflow or run after use
- Wash full laundry loads or set the washer to appropriate load size
- Do not order more water than is necessary
- Do not fill tank to the top with water from piped supply. Leave room for rainfall
Roof & Tank Care
Bermuda is one of the few places in the world that uses a roof catchment and tank system to collect and store rainwater for drinking purposes. This method provides every residence with its own supply of low-cost drinking water. The quality of your tank water will depend on how well you maintain the water system. The Department of Health recommends the following:
Catchment Area Care
- Keep the roof clean and painted. Before cleaning, block the drain pipes so that nothing enters the tank
- Power wash or use a wire brush to remove old paint and fungal growth
- Before painting, wash the roof with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. Repair all hairline cracks
- Trim overhanging trees to prevent leaves from entering your tank. Use wire pineapples to block them
Water Tank Care
- Screen vents or overflows with mesh wire to prevent insects from entering the tank
- Clean your tank at least once every five years
- Disinfect water – 1/4 cup of household bleach to every 1000 gallons of water
- Use formula: tank length x tank width x tank depth x 6.25 = tank capacity in gallons
- Aerate bad smelling water by running your garden hose to the top of your roof and allowing the water to drain back into the tank. Or dunk a bucket repeatedly into the tank
Common Problems & Solutions
- Stagnation – when the water lacks oxygen and smells like rotten eggs. Aerate then chlorinate
- Mosquitos and fly larvae – guppies (little fish) will eat the larvae. Get them from Deptpartment of Health Vector Control
- Paint contamination – If roof paint contaminates the water, empty the tank completely and fill it up with fresh water
- Rust colored water - means old galvanized pipes are corroding. Replace them with PVC
- Consider using a qualified contractor
A well is usually a good investment as supplementary water supply and is good to use for flushing. To install a well:
- Determine the quality and depth of water in your area. Talk to neighbors who have wells or to a licensed well driller
- Obtain and complete a Water Right Application Form available from the Department of Environment Protection. The fee is approximately $65
- Get quotes from licensed well drillers for all the costs including plumbing
Caution: it is unlawful to pipe water from wells to a home faucet where it can be used for drinking, cooking or to top up your water tank. Well water can be contaminated from many sources including your cesspit.
For help with water issues including drinking water safety, contact the Department of Health at 278-4976.
For assistance with water connection, supply problems and water supply emergencies, contact the Ministry of Works and Engineering at 297-7637.