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Rainwater Harvesting Laws

Rainwater Harvesting Laws You Need to Know About

by | Last updated Aug 3, 2020 | Published on Sep 4, 2018

Rainwater harvesting as a primary water supply is a relatively new idea and industry. Therefore, the laws around rainwater harvesting can be a concern. As of right now, the federal government does not regulate rainwater harvesting at all, but rather, leaves it up to the individual state governments.

Make sure that your rainwater harvesting trade contractor is aware of and complies with local codes and regulations.

 

Is it Illegal to Harvest Rainwater?

In almost every case, no.

Out of the lower 48 states in the U.S., Colorado and Utah are the only states that are currently heavily regulated to keep homeowners from harvesting and using the rain that falls on their property. But in most states, rainwater harvesting is either not regulated at all, or actually encouraged by the state government as a method for water conservation, stormwater management, and water availability.

Rainwater is a resource. And once it falls on your property, it’s yours. Free to use.

 

Will Rainwater Harvesting Become Illegal?

If it follows the current trajectory, this is a resounding no. More and more states are adopting rainwater harvesting and even using it on public and government buildings. Laws are in place to provide incentives for rainwater harvesting in multiple states, and this seems to be a growing trend.

Organizations like the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA), are continually working with government organizations to help rain harvesters all over the country.

Even the states that do have laws and regulations on rainwater harvesting are in the process of getting these removed.

There is a need for stormwater retention everywhere east of Texas, and there is a need for water availability everywhere west of Texas. Rainwater harvesting is a solution to both of these issues. Requirements through the NPDES to keep rivers, lakes, and streams clean through stormwater retention is more important to the federal government than possible water rights based on stormwater runoff.

Why Are There Regulations on Rainwater Harvesting?

Old statutes and codes that were derived from an old sense of thinking, primarily. In the case of Colorado, they have a 120-year-old law that implies that rainwater harvesting is illegal since that rainwater could flow downstream into someone else’s water supply, which would be taking from them if one collected the rain.

Rainwater Harvesting Regulations for Each State:

Listed below are each state’s various regulations and other information about rainwater harvesting.

  • Alabama – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Alaska – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Arizona – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Arkansas – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • California – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Colorado – The only state that it is completely illegal to harvest rainwater. Other than that each house is allowed up to 110 gallons of rain barrel storage.
  • Connecticut – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Delaware – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Florida – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Georgia – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Hawaii – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Idaho – Legal to capture rainwater off roof structures and the ground as long as the rain has not entered a natural waterway.
  • Illinois – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Indiana – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Iowa – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Kansas – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Kentucky – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Louisiana – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Maine – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Maryland – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Massachusetts – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Michigan – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Minnesota – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Mississippi – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Missouri – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Montana – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Nebraska – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Nevada – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • New Hampshire – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • New Jersey – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • New Mexico – Some rainwater harvesting systems need a permit, but this state offers payable incentives for green building such as rainwater harvesting.
  • New York – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • North Carolina – Rainwater harvesting is encouraged due to water conservation efforts.
  • North Dakota – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Ohio – Rainwater harvesting is legal, but there are codes and regulations that must be followed.
  • Oklahoma – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Oregon – Rainwater harvesting is legal, but only using rooftop surfaces.
  • Pennsylvania – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Rhode Island – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • South Carolina – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • South Dakota – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Tennessee – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting. (More on Tennessee below)
  • Texas – Highly encouraged. Some counties even offer a tax incentive. And there is an exemption on sales tax for rainwater harvesting systems.
  • Utah – 2,500 gallons max for rainwater harvesting systems. A permit is required
  • Vermont – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Virginia – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Washington – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • West Virginia – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Wisconsin – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.
  • Wyoming – No regulations or laws against rainwater harvesting.

 

As you can see, most states either have no regulations or are in favor of rainwater harvesting. This aligns with the trend we are seeing today.

Rainwater Harvesting in Tennessee

There are many homes and custom homes in Tennessee that are currently using rainwater harvesting as the primary water for their family, drinking, washing, bathing, and for whatever else they might use water. There are no regulations in Tennessee on how much you can capture and use. Tennesseeans are using this natural resource and benefiting from water quality, water availability, stormwater retention, and eco-friendliness

Based on stormwater retention laws, one could assume that rainwater harvesting is rather encouraged! In fact, the University of Tennessee is currently using rainwater harvesting on new dormitories for that specific purpose, but also are using the water for toilet flushes and laundry. 

Want to Learn More About Rainwater Harvesting?

For Homeowners & Homebuilders in Knoxville, Nashville, Asheville, Chattanooga, Lexington, and surrounding areas.

Check out our ultimate guide to rainwater harvesting.

PerfectWater

We Help People Take Control of Their Water.

This is one of the ways we are trying to help homeowners and homebuilders across the United States take control of their water. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

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