Rainwater tanks are increasingly adopted in Australia to reduce potable water demand and are perceived to reduce the volume of stormwater discharge from developments. This paper investigates the water balance of rainwater tanks, in particular the possible impacts these tanks could have in controlling the stormwater discharge volume. The study collected water quantity data from two sites in the Hawkesbury City Council area, New South Wales, Australia and utilised the collected data in a simple water balance model to assess the effectiveness of rainwater tanks in reducing the stormwater discharge volume. The results indicate that a significant reduction in discharge volume from a lot scale development can be achieved if the rainwater tank is connected to multiple end-uses, but is minimal when using irrigation alone. In addition, the commonly used volumetric runoff coefficient of 0.9 was found to over-estimate the runoff from the roof areas and to thereby under-estimate the available volume within the rainwater tanks for retention or detention. Also, sole reliance on the water in the rainwater tanks can make the users aware of their water use pattern and water availability, resulting in significant reductions in water use as the supply dwindles, through self-imposed water restrictions.

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