A polyethylene water-tank maker has secured a deal with one of Australia's biggest housing developers to supply a model designed to prevent childhood drownings.
Action Tank Industries Pty. Ltd. in Noosa will supply about 100 underground tanks a month for the next two years to Sydney-based Australand Holdings Ltd.
Action Tank Managing Director Randall Crisp would not say what the deal was worth.
He said, however, that the contract highlights two developments in the Australian market. The first is increasing demand for household tanks, as more Australian homeowners become conscious of the need to conserve water and cut supply costs in the face of a widespread drought. The second is greater awareness of the danger such a trend poses to children when exposed to easily accessible tanks.
In April, a 3-year-old boy drowned in a water tank on a property north of Brisbane and, in May, 2-year-old twins drowned in a tank on a farm in Adelaide Hills, Australia.
``We developed the child-safe tank three years ago because of firsthand experience I had in some near-drownings,'' Crisp said. ``I'm a plumber by trade and when I was at college there were a couple of blokes who got trapped in a septic tank and nearly drowned after being overcome by fumes.
``Then a few years ago in Mount Isa a boy drowned in a rainwater tank so I thought we would design our tanks so that can never happen with one of ours.''
Action's one-piece rotational molded low density PE tanks are made in three sizes: 793 gallons, 1,189 gallons and 1,320 gallons.
Crisp said the key safety feature of the underground tanks was a 6-inch access opening and cover in the tank roof compared with other makes that have openings of 12 inches or more.
Another feature was placing the opening close to the center of the tank's sloping roof. ``Despite the size of the opening, you can still see every part of the tank. That means it is still accessible for maintenance purposes. You can de-sludge it, as required by health authorities, and you can still install a submersible pump or suction hose,'' Crisp said.
``You can get to every part of the tank from outside it. There's no need for anyone to get inside and have to work in a confined space.''
Crisp said while Action's above-ground tanks did not have a small access opening, they included other features that prevented access by small children.
``Our above-ground models have a removable mesh filter, but under that is a diverter system that blocks access to the inside of the tank,'' he said.
The system, patented by Action Tank Industries, diverts the first 5 gallons of rainwater away from the tank and into household drains, preventing dirt, leaves and other debris, such as bird or animal droppings, from washing off a house roof into the tank water.
Action Tank Industries wants to expand manufacturing by establishing a base in western Australia. Crisp is seeking a local manufacturer to produce the tanks for Action.
While the Australian market was growing, exports were not feasible because of the nature of the product.
``With tanks, you end up exporting too much air,'' Crisp said.