This PhD thesis by Dr Anthony Spinks examined the water quality, incidental treatment train mechanisms and health risks of urban rainwater harvesting systems. It was an honour to be one of Anthony’s supervisors. In essence, this thesis argues that a series of incidentally occurring treatment trains contribute to the production of high quality freshwater from rainwater harvesting systems. Importantly, this thesis confirms and identifies the key behaviour of rainwater storages in recommending an appropriate guideline framework for greater utilisation of rainwater in urban areas.
Rainwater harvesting systems in urban areas have made a substantial contribution to water supply and stormwater management. Monitoring of rainwater systems has revealed significant spatial and temporal variation in rainwater quality, including stratification in storages. Rainwater quality declines immediately after rainfall and improves thereafter. The hypothesis that biofilms form on walls and at the bottom (as sludge) of storages to improve the quality of stored water is shown to be true. Domestic hot water services are demonstrated to also improve rainwater quality and a framework of guidelines is recommended for greater use of rainwater in urban areas.