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Laws of Rainwater HarvestingRainwater 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:


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. PerfectWater’s commercial sister company – Rainwater Resources – is contracted for these projects.


Want to learn even more about rainwater harvesting in Knoxville and Nashville? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Rainwater Harvesting

You can also contact our team.

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