Install a water tank
You may need a Planning Permit, Building Permit or both to install a water tank.
How to use this guide
To help you work out which permits you need, begin at Step 1 and answer the questions one at a time. You will be asked to look at overlay information and to consider the design of the installation.
You will also learn how to prevent health and safety risks associated with rainwater tanks.
Contact Statutory Planning or Building Services if you need help with either a Planning or Building Permit.
Before you begin
Before finalising your design:
- Check whether your project involves removing, pruning or carrying out works near a protected tree. You may need a permit for the tree works.
- Check for easements on your property. When an easement is obstructed, it can prevent important maintenance work and block the flow of stormwater. If your plans impact an easement, it may be necessary to modify your plans.
- See if the property is listed under Schedule to Clause 51.01 Specific Sites and Exclusions. If the property is listed, contact Statutory Planning on 9278 4888 to find out about special restrictions and exemptions that apply.
Select a tank that is safely designed
Design and manufacturing faults in a water tank can cause serious risks to health and safety.
It is important to select a water tank that is professionally designed and manufactured using corrosion- resistant, non-toxic materials. Any support stands must be professionally designed and constructed to meet structural regulations and manufacturer's recommendations.
If you have any concerns about the quality of the water tank, refer to the manufacturer.
Check if you are installing a water tank in a Heritage Overlay
Go to VicPlan and search for the address of your property.
Follow the prompts to create and open a free Planning Property Report.
- On the Report, go to the Planning Overlay section to see whether a Heritage Overlay affects your property.
- In the Planning Overlay section, look at the map to see the area of your site covered by the Heritage Overlay. Refer to your plans to see whether you will be performing works in that area.
Are the proposed works in a Heritage Overlay?
Check if your property is on the Victorian Heritage Register
- Refer to the map from VicPlan .
- Look for the Heritage Overlay Schedule link and take note of the schedule number.
- Click the Heritage Overlay Schedule link. The Schedule to the Heritage Overlay page appears.
- Find your schedule number. See whether the 'Included on the Victorian Heritage Register' column displays 'Yes' for your schedule number.
If the property is on the Victorian Heritage Register:
- You may need approval from Heritage Victoria for or any buildings and works including internal changes. Contact Heritage Victoria for advice on how to apply for their approval.
- You may continue to apply for other permits while your Heritage Victoria application is being assessed. But you can only begin construction after all necessary approvals and permits are granted.
- Note that you may also require a Planning Permit from Council if your property is affected by other overlays. These are discussed later in this guide.
Is your property listed on the Victorian Heritage Register?
- If yes, contact Heritage Victoria and apply for their approval. Then check the volume of your tank.
- If no, check the visibility of your tank.
Check if a water tank in a Heritage Overlay will be visible from the street
Refer to your plans to see whether the rainwater tank will be visible from a street or public park.
Are you planning to install a water tank that is visible from a street or public park?
Check the overlays for a tank that holds over 10,000 litres
Refer to the map from VicPlan.
See whether you are proposing works in any of the following:
- Land Subject to Inundation Overlay
- Special Building Overlay
For more information about developing in a Land Subject to Inundation Overlay or Special Building Overlay, including ways to help fast-track your Planning Permit application, go to Melbourne Water.
Are you planning to install a tank that holds over 10,000 litres in a Land Subject to Inundation Overlay or Special Building Overlay?
- If yes, apply for a Planning Permit.
- If no, you do not need a Planning Permit. See if you need a Building Permit.
Apply for a Planning Permit, if needed
If you have determined that you need a Planning Permit for your project:
- Provide a clear copy of your Certificate of Title, including the lot plan. You can get this from the Landata website. The Certificate of Title must be no more than 28 days old.
- Write a cover letter explaining your proposal.
- Prepare a plan drawn to scale (1:100 or 1:200) with full dimensions. The plan must show the site, floor layout and elevations.. The plan should also include the length, width and height of the tank, details of any supporting structures, distances to boundaries and details of any other supporting information.
- Check whether your application is eligible to be fast-tracked under VicSmart.
- Complete the Planning Permit application form and lodge the form, fee and supporting documents with Council.
To download the form and submit the application, see Apply for a Planning Permit.
- Now, see whether you need a Building Permit.
For VicSmart applications and applications associated with a single dwelling (a house that is the only dwelling on the lot), the fee is $199.90
For all other applications, the fee is $1147.80.
Check if your tank will be freestanding
Consider how the rainwater tank will be installed.
See whether it will be a freestanding structure, or whether it will rely on another structure, such as a roof or wall, for support.
Will your water tank be freestanding?
- If yes, you do not need a Building Permit. Learn about installing and maintaining a water tank safely.
- If no, you will need a Building Permit. See if you also need Report and Consent.
Check if a supported tank requires Report and Consent
Measure the distance from the sides of your supported water tank to the property boundaries. Then measure the overall height of the water tank, from natural ground level to the top of the tank.
Use the following table to determine whether you need to apply for Report and Consent.
Height of supported tank
Distance from boundary
Do I need Report and Consent?
Less than 500mm
500mm or more
3.6m or more
Less than 500mm
500mm or more
You may need Report and Consent. Contact Building Services on 9278 4999 to confirm whether this is the case.
Does my supported water tank require Report and Consent?
- If yes, apply for Report and Consent. Then apply for a Building Permit.
- If no, apply for a Building Permit.
Apply for a Building Permit, if needed
If you have determined that you need a Building Permit:
- Read the Building Permit application checklist to determine which supporting documents you need for your circumstances. If you are unsure what you need, contact the Building Services team on 9278 4999 or email Building Services.
- Complete the Application for a Building Permit.
- Lodge the Building Permit application form, fee and supporting documents with Council. For fee information, email Building Services.
You may lodge the application for a Building Permit while other permit applications are still being processed, but may only begin construction when all required permits are granted
Install and maintain your water tank safely
You may install the water tank after all required permits have been granted.
The water tank must be installed by a licensed plumber.
The tank must be fitted with an overflow pipe of the same diameter as the inlet pipe, and must be connected to the stormwater system at a legal point of discharge.
It is important to seal the tank in order to:
- prevent risk to small children
- keep insects, vermin and other animals out.
- keep the water free of leaves, atmospheric pollution or animal droppings
Rainwater collected in tanks is not suitable for drinking because it can contain contaminants from collection surfaces.
You may exit the guide.