Design Project 1

Preliminary Design and Technology

Design Situation

Most of the world's natural resources are finite. These include key resources such as: coal, gas, oil and water. In the past these resources have been taken for granted, but there has been a growing awareness and concern regarding the continuing supply of some of these as well as the impact on the environment in the undisciplined use of these resources.

Global warming, which many reputable scientists suggest is contributed to by an increasing use of and reliance on fossil fuels, will affect us all. In Australia there are growing concerns with the availability of water and the impact that the redirection of wear from natural river flows is having on the environment.

Increasingly there is an expectation that designers and producers will be accountable for the impact of their work on society and the environment. Risks can be minimised and products can be enhanced by considering both the short and long term consequences of decisions made throughout the design process.

The wider community and governments today are facing complex challenges related to these issues. There is a phrase that is sometimes used "Think globally and act locally". This task invites us to takes up that challenge in a practical way at a domestic level in Australia.

Design Brief

To help combat global warming designers must create new and innovative products to help reduce the negative outcomes of their work on society and the environment and to create alternative ways of utilising natural resources. The availability of water is a key issue in today's society, forcing designers to create new products to stabilise water use and provide alternative measures.

Domestic water management systems rely on the natural occurrence of water to acquire water on-site of a home or building. Rainwater harvesting specialises in obtaining usable water through natural hydrological cycles, in particular; precipitation. This water is often collected in gutters and will flow into tanks where it is stored before utilising it for gardens, washing, livestock and with proper treatment; drinking.

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Figure 2.1 Hydrological Cycle

Domestic water management systems need to be redesigned to create compact and simple systems that are available to all households. By doing this, water management will become easier and more appealing, and therefore more people will be able to assist in the fight against global warming.

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Figure 2.2 Domestic Water Management System

Design Propsal

To help solve the global crisis of global warming more effective ways of collecting, storing and using water must be designed. Rainwater is ideal to use for several purposes and can be easily collected through the use of pipes and a tank or tanks. As seen below, rainwater also carries little risk of unhealthy bacteria when treated properly.

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Figure 3.1 Risk hierarchy for private drinking water sources

Below is an outline of different issues that need to be considered before developing and completing the project.

Domestic water management systems play a vital role in the conservation of water. For these types of systems to be effective in domestic settings they must be compact, affordable and simple to use and repair if necessary. These are some of the functional requirements of domestic water management systems.

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Figure 3.2 Systems must be easy to repair

Another factor that needs to be considered when designing a domestic water management system is aesthetics. Homeowners don't wish to have unpleasant looking systems exposed around their house so the system must be small and concealed or pleasing to the eye. The system design may be simple or elaborate to achieve appealing aesthetics.

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Figure 3.3 Underground tanks offer a great aesthetic

Currently it is suggested that rainwater should not be used for drinking consumption, however, some rural properties without access to the main water supply rely on rainwater for all aspects of life. To make rainwater safe to drink many processes must be followed. These processes include; the management of risks to the water supply, treatment of the water supply and the maintenance of the water supply and system.

Risks to rainwater supplies include risks from roof materials, faeces, animals, leaves, and pesticides. These risks can lead to a variety of bacteria, which may then cause viruses and diseases for the consumer. Below is a diagram displaying the necessary management of a rainwater harvesting system.

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Figure 3.4 Methods to minimise risks to rainwater supply
Once water is collected it must be properly treated before it is able to be used. Common ways to treat rainwater is filtration and chlorine disinfection. The table below depicts the amount of chlorine necessary to adequately treat rainwater in a variety of sized tanks.
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Figure 3.5 Amount of chlorine necessary to make 5mg/L in tank

The last step to prepare rainwater for domestic use the continual maintenance of the rainwater harvesting system. This can be done by continual filtration and disinfection. The water quality should also be tested when the system is installed, after the system has been altered in anyway and after any major events, such as natural disasters. The system should be cleaned and maintained every three months (for most parts) and after major storms.

After evaluation of the factors affecting the design of a rainwater harvesting tank it is suggested the system be simple, efficient and easy to manage. The system will follow a similar structure to regular rainwater harvesting systems, specialising in aesthetics and easy management.

Project Management

Project management and development is the process of gathering ideas and materials that are relevant to the project. The following explores various time plans, materials and issues such as costing. Computer generated pictures will depict the final product and justify why certain products, ideas and materials were chosen.
To successfully manage the design stage of this project a plan must be created and adhered to as closely as possible. Below is a week by week outline of the actions expected to take place in order to complete the project by the desired time.
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Figure 4.1 Table displaying proposed time plan for the project
As the project was being completed other tasks became prioritised and so the design project time plan was altered significantly. This resulted in not completing the project in the desired timeframe. The table below depicts the actual progress made each week.
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Figure 4.2 Table displaying actual time plan for the project
To complete a rainwater harvesting system a variety of materials and trades are necessary. The table below outlines the materials, along with a summary of their purpose and theapproximate financial cost needed to complete this project. In addition to the physical materials, workers would need to be hired to install and maintained several components. The cost of instalment is not included in the table.
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Figure 4.3 Table displaying materials, purpose and finance necessary for a rainwater harvesting system


Rainwater harvesting benefits the environment in various different ways. This includes the idea that it is recycled, does not use power to generate and lowers the need for a large public water systems.

As rainwater is a product of the hydrological cycle, collecting it and utilizing it has minimal negative impacts on the environment. Only small amounts of water is lost as it is used and then essentially 'released' back into the environment to start the cycle again. The diagram below depicts one of the options available after rainwater has been used in the home. As seen in the diagram wastewater can be used for irrigation or treated and then released back into rivers and oceans.

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Figure 5.1 Wastewater alternatives
For water to be received in a home from mains water supply in Sydney it goes through
  • over 21000km of pipes, 251 reservoirs and 164 pumping stations. It takes a lot of power to transport water from a dam to a home, this uses large quantities of electricity which causes harmful gases and pollutants to be released into the atmosphere, adding to Global Warming. Stations also take up valuable land space which could otherwise be used to regenerate natural resources, such as forests.

  • Domestic rainwater harvesting eliminates the need for water to transported over long distances, and therefore eliminates the need to clear land for water stations and use of excessive amounts of power to drive the systems.

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    Figure 5.2 Sydney water system network

    Domestic rainwater harvesting systems minimise the environmental risks associated with harvesting water for household consumption. By modifying a simple rainwater system to suit aesthetics and functionality whilst still maintaining an affordable alternative this project has successfully completed the design brief. The system designed is compact and simple and is able to be easy repaired and maintained. Domestic rainwater harvesting is available to most homes and encourages homeowners to 'think globally and act locally.'

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