Home Law Is It Illegal To Collect Rainwater?

Is It Illegal To Collect Rainwater?

See, the collection of rainwater is an old practice, almost as old as the practice of agriculture. All the same, the concept of rainwater harvesting is relatively modern, and homeowners and environmentalists are beginning to show considerable interest in the sustainability benefits that they are able to derive from it, you know? That is perhaps what keeps it at the environmental sustainability front, less dependency on the municipality systems, saving up a really important natural resource, etc. This always brings about some common questions, like, is the act of collecting rainwater illegal in the United States? Well, let’s find out just that, shall we?

Is It Illegal To Collect Rainwater

So What Exactly Is Rainwater Harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of rainwater from man-made structures like roofs for future use, to put it simply. A rainwater harvesting system generally comprises some systems such as the catchment, conveying systems, storage tanks, treatment solutions, and distribution mechanisms. This has, in turn, led to many people even harvesting rainwater for use in irrigation, landscaping, flushing toilets, and even properly treating potable water, you know?

You may also like Is It illegal To Drive A Car Registered To A Deceased Person?

Legal Landscape of Rainwater Collection in the U.S.

See, in very strict contrast to the common belief of the majority, there actually is no federal law banning taking of the rainwater in the United States. Every state, in fact, has its own set of rainwater harvesting regulations. Some states have gone ahead to encourage these people through incentives, while some have put up certain restrictions to, however, tackle environmental and water law issues.

State-by-State Overview

See, the legal stance on rainwater harvesting varies significantly from one state to another:

  • The states of Colorado and Utah have had strict controls in historical water rights, but have loosened the laws to allow the limited harvesting of rainwater.
  • The states of Oregon and Washington are some of the very active rainwater collecting-encouraging states.
  • Nevada has evolved its stance to permit rainwater collection for non-potable uses under specific conditions.
  • On the contrary, in states like Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Maine, no specific or peculiar regulation or information concerning the harvesting of rainwater has been provided, hence according to all effects, its status is unregulated.

Common Restrictions and Requirements

In states where rainwater harvesting is regulated, there are some common restrictions like:

  • Some states require permits for large-scale or specific uses of harvested rainwater.
  • Rainwater harvesting systems must often meet certain design and safety standards.
  • There could be several restrictions of use with harvested rainwater. For instance, the harvested rainwater may be used for non-potable purpose use only.
  • And yes, many states offer a number of lucrative tax breaks, rebates, and assistance programs aimed at promoting rainwater harvesting. All these are designed for defraying part of the cost that a household has to incur to install the rainwater harvesting mechanism and hence encourage more households to adopt this practice of saving water.


All in all, this is where awareness of local regulations has to be achieved before embarking on any project to harvest rainwater, you know? If not, then in contravention of federal law, still state laws vary, and in some areas, incentives are provided to encourage harvesting, while other areas restrict it due to considerations in environmental and water rights.

Parul is an experienced blogger, author and lawyer who also works as an SEO content writer, copywriter and social media enthusiast. She creates compelling legal content that engages readers and improves website visibility. Linkedin


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here