Rainwater harvesting has been around for a long time, but people are just waking up to its possibilities. If you have been thinking about starting this practice in your home, you must be wondering if it is illegal to collect rainwater.
Read on to find out everything there is to know about rainwater harvesting.
Is Rainwater Harvesting Illegal?
The answer depends on what state you are in. The US government does not regulate the harvesting of rainwater, so its legality depends on state regulations.
Fortunately, collecting rainwater is not illegal in most states. In fact, it is encouraged as a viable water conservation method.
Rainwater is a natural resource. As it falls on your property, it becomes yours to use however you see fit.
Rainwater Harvesting Laws by State
State laws dictate whether collecting rainwater is legal or illegal. Here is a list of all state rules and regulations on the harvesting of rainwater.
State laws are always subject to change, so make sure to double-check with your state before you invest in rainwater harvesting.
There are no restrictions on the collection of rainwater in Alabama. It is considered private property and people are free to harvest it. Alabama A&M and Auburn University published a guide to rainwater harvesting, showing their encouragement for the practice.
Alaska does not restrict the collection of rainwater. It is even used as the primary water source by many residents. However, people need to take care of safety regulations while rainwater harvesting because of the extremely cold weather in Alaska.
On the other hand, the harvesting of groundwater is regulated by the government. Rights can be purchased by individuals if they wish to harvest groundwater.
Arizona does not restrict the collection of rainwater by its residents. There is a joint legislative study committee that oversees the analysis and evaluation of costs, positive effects and general impact of rainwater harvesting.
According to House Bill 2830, any city or town can establish a system fund for the harvesting of rainwater.
It is legal to harvest rainwater in Arkansas, but there are some regulations to ensure that it is done safely.
There are 3 main considerations:
- The rainwater harvesting system should be designed by an engineer who is licensed in Arkansas.
- It should be equipped with proper safeguards for cross-connection.
- It should be in compliance with the plumbing code of Arkansas.
According to the Rainwater Capture Act, which came into effect in 2012, you need a permit from the California State Water Resources Board to harvest rainwater. Assembly Bill 1750 specifies the purposes for which landowners can install and use rainwater harvesting systems.
Colorado restricts the harvesting of rainwater. The following rules apply for harvesting rainwater in the state of Colorado:
- Rainwater must only be used for non-potable purposes.
- The capacity of the catchment system should not exceed 110 gallons.
- The use of harvested rainwater is restricted to the property where it was harvested and only for outdoor use.
Rainwater harvesting is completely legal in Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection published an article expounding the history, methods and benefits of rainwater harvesting.
Rainwater harvesting in Delaware is completely legal and comes with incentives to encourage the practice.
Most municipalities in Florida offer incentives and rebates to encourage rainwater harvesting. It is fully legal and the local government encourages it.
The Department of Natural Resources in the Environmental Protection Division regulates rainwater harvesting in Georgia. It is not illegal, but it must comply with the Plumbing Code and the harvested water should only be used for outdoor purposes.
Harvesting rainwater is completely legal and highly encouraged in Hawaii. A resolution by the Senate encourages water boards to research and promote rainwater harvesting.
Idaho does not regulate or restrict rainwater harvesting except for rainwater which becomes a part of natural waterways.
Rainwater harvesting in Illinois is legal but regulated. There are 2 main statutes to consider:
- The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act lays down the importance, conservation, efficacy and infrastructure of rainwater harvesting.
- An amendment to the Homeowners’ Solar Rights Act states that after 120 days of the formation of a homeowners’ association, it should specify whether a rainwater collection system is allowed.
If it is allowed, it should also state the location, design and structural requirements of the water harvesting system.
Rainwater harvesting is not restricted in Indiana. The practice is actively encouraged by the government.
Collecting rainwater is legal in Iowa. Residents can find a ton of information about stormwater on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website.
It is legal to harvest rainwater in Kansas, but residents need a permit from the Department of Agriculture.
Kentucky does not restrict the collection of rainwater. The government has information on the construction of rain barrels on its website to encourage the practice.
You can legally harvest rainwater in Louisiana.
Rainwater collection is completely legal in Maine. Few cities like Portland charge stormwater fees to upgrade stormwater systems in the city.
Maine does not impose restrictions on or regulate the practice of rainwater harvesting. Some counties even offer major incentives for the collection of rainwater.
Collecting and using rainwater is not restricted or regulated in Massachusetts. The government encourages the practice.
Michigan passed the double-check Governmental Energy Use Act, which legalizes and encourages all cost-efficient procedures. This includes rainwater harvesting.
The collection of rainwater is not illegal in Minnesota.
Rainwater collection is legal. In fact, Mississippi highly encourages it.
Missouri does not have restrictions on rainwater harvesting.
Montana has legalized and encouraged rainwater harvesting.
Nebraska has no restrictions on collecting rainwater. In fact, local universities promote the practice within the state.
Collecting rainwater is not illegal in Nevada, but it is regulated by the government. Residents can be granted water rights that allow rainwater harvesting which are revoked if found to be misused.
Assembly Bill 198 specifies that studies on water conservation will be conducted by the Legislative Committee on Public Lands. A study of alternative sources of water is included in this Bill, which includes rainwater harvesting.
New Hampshire does not restrict or regulate the collection of rainwater within the state.
The collection of rainwater is legal. New Jersey incentivizes the practice. Assembly Bill 2442 states that water conservation funds will be used to provide rebates to residents who practice water conservation methods.
The collection of rainwater is a legal and highly encouraged practice in New Mexico.
Harvesting and using rainwater is hailed as a legal and beneficial method of conserving water in New York.
North Carolina does not restrict rainwater harvesting but it does regulate it.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources provides assistance and ensures management practices for all conservation methods, which includes rainwater harvesting.
The viability of rainwater as a future source of water supply for North Carolina is acknowledged in Senate Bill 163.
Water harvesting is fully legal and recommended by North Dakota.
There are restrictions on water harvesting for both potable and non-potable purposes in Ohio. There is some regulation around private drinking water systems serving less than 25 people.
Oklahoma does not have restrictions or regulations on rainwater harvesting. It is highly encouraged as a water conservation method.
There aren’t any restrictions on rainwater harvesting but the government of Oregon regulates the practice. Water collection should only be done through catchment systems on rooftops.
A few alternate collection systems are allowed, but you should seek legal advice before installing any alternate water harvesting system.
Harvesting and using rainwater is encouraged and legal in Pennsylvania.
Harvesting rainwater is legal in Rhode Island. Residents get incentives like tax credits for using this water conservation method.
Rainwater harvesting is a legal practice encouraged by South Carolina.
Rainwater harvesting is completely legal in South Dakota. There are many statutes on water rights, but they don’t restrict or regulate rainwater harvesting.
Collection of rainwater is not restricted in Tennessee. Eco-friendly infrastructure practices are encouraged by the Tennessee government, which includes rainwater harvesting.
Rainwater harvesting is indeed legal but regulated by the Texas government. The catchment system should be a part of the building design. A formal notice must also be presented before the municipality.
There are certain regulations on rainwater harvesting in Utah. Senate Bill 32 states that people who register with the Division of Water Resources can only collect up to 2,500 gallons of water through rainwater harvesting.
If you are unregistered, you are limited to 2 containers, each with a maximum capacity of 100 gallons.
There are currently no restrictions on rainwater harvesting in Vermont.
Collecting rainwater is legal. Virginia highly encourages the practice.
Washington does not have any restrictions on rainwater harvesting.
Collection of rainwater is a legal practice in West Virginia.
The usage of rainwater is not restricted in Wyoming.
Collecting and using rainwater is completely legal in Wyoming.
Rainwater harvesting is a great water conservation method, which is why it is legal and actively encouraged in most states.
Some regulate this practice to make it safe and beneficial, but these regulations are easy to comply with. Make sure you double-check your state’s position on water harvesting before installing a catchment system as state laws often change.