States Where It Is Illegal To Collect Rainwater 2019

Rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and storage of rainwater, rather than allowing it to run off, in order to reuse it for on-site purposes. Simply installing a system in one’s home makes it easy to utilize Earth’s hydrological cycle and allowing people to collect rainwater on their own properties reduces the demand from water facilities and improves conservation efforts.

The Federal Government does not have any laws or restrictions regarding rainwater harvesting. Most states allow citizens to collect rainwater, and even encourage them to do so. Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia encourage residents to collect rainwater by offering a tax credit or exemption for equipment purchased for rainwater harvesting.

Some states currently have restrictions on the amount of rainwater that can be collected and the method by which it is collected; however, it is not entirely illegal to collect rainwater in any of the 50 states.

A reason for some of these restrictions is the belief that the harvesting would disrupt rain’s natural flow back into streams and bodies of water on the Earth. The amount of rainwater collected by individual homes, according to a study by the Scientific World Journal, would have little to no effect on the hydrological cycle, especially because homeowners would use this water for their yards or gardens, so it would return back to the Earth.

In Western states, restrictions exist because old water laws stated that all precipitation belonged to existing water-rights owners. These laws were known as prior appropriation, or “first-come, first serve” laws for settlers in the Old West.

Rainwater harvesting poses a health problem, as some water may be unsafe and not suitable for potable purposes (i.e. drinking). This is something legislators must take into consideration.

Below is a list of rainwater harvesting laws for each state.

Alabama

Rainwater harvesting is considered a private property right. There are no current regulations for rainwater harvesting.

Alaska

Rainwater harvesting is unrestricted as it is the primary source of water for many residents. Groundwater harvesting is regulated and can be purchased as a water right.

Arizona

Rainwater harvesting is legal. House Bill 2830 allows cities and towns to establish a fund for rainwater harvesting systems.

Arkansas

Rainwater harvesting is allowed with some minor restrictions. The Arkansas Code Annotated Rainwater § 17-38-201 states that harvested rainwater can be used for non-potable purposes if the harvesting system is designed by a professional engineer licensed in Arkansas, is designed with appropriate cross-connection safeguards, and complies with Arkansas Plumbing Code.

California

The Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 states that residential, commercial and governmental landowners may install, maintain, and operate rainwater capture systems for specified purposes.

Colorado

According to House Bill 16-1005, residents are allowed to collect rainwater in two rain barrels with a combined capacity of 110 gallons. The collected water can only be used on the property where it was collected and for outdoor purposes.

Connecticut

There are no restrictions on rainwater harvesting, and the state’s citizens are encouraged to collect rainwater.

Delaware

There are no restrictions on rainwater harvesting. Delaware sponsors incentive programs encouraging rainwater harvesting.

Florida

There are no rainwater harvesting restrictions in Florida, and it is highly encouraged by the state. Several local municipalities encourage rainwater harvesting with tax incentives and rebate programs.

Georgia

Rainwater harvesting must be used for outdoor purposes only, and is closely regulated by the Department of Natural Resources in the Environmental Protection Division.

Hawaii

There are no rainwater harvesting restrictions, and rainwater harvesting is highly encouraged.

Idaho

Residents can capture rainwater and diffused surface waters on their own property as long as it does not cause injury to the existing water rights of others and is not rainwater that has entered natural waterways.

Illinois

Rainwater harvesting is highly regulated in Illinois. Plumbing-Rainwater Systems Bill SB0038 states that collected rainwater collected can only be used for non-potable purposes and rainwater-harvesting systems must be constructed in accordance with the Illinois Plumbing Code.

Indiana

There are no restrictions or regulations on rainwater harvesting and it is highly encouraged by the state.

Iowa

There are no rainwater harvesting restrictions or regulations.

Kansas

Rainwater harvesting is legal, and no permit is needed if the water is used for domestic purposes such as household use, watering livestock on pasture, or for lawns and gardens.

Kentucky

There are no rainwater harvesting restrictions or regulations.

Louisiana

Rainwater collection is legal, but state statutes require covers for large collection tanks (cisterns).

Maine

There are no rainwater harvesting restrictions or regulations.

Maryland

There are no rainwater harvesting restrictions or regulations. Some counties offer incentives for rainwater collection.

Massachusetts

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Michigan

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Minnesota

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Mississippi

Rainwater harvesting is legal.

Missouri

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Montana

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Nebraska

Rainwater harvesting is legal and promoted by several universities in the state.

Nevada

NB74 allows for rainwater collection under the grant of a water right, which must be used for intended purposes or risk being revoked. Assembly Bill 198 states that the Legislative Committee on Public lands will review alternative sources of water, including rainwater harvesting.

New Hampshire

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

New Jersey

Rainwater harvesting is legal. Assembly Bill 2442 requires the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a Capture, Control, and Conserve Reward Rebate Program for property owners who use eligible techniques on their properties.

New Mexico

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

New York

Rainwater harvesting is legal, encouraged and taught in New York.

North Carolina

Rainwater harvesting is legal with two laws regulating it. House Bill 609 states that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will provide statewide assistance and ensure best management practices for water reuse and rainwater harvesting. Senate Bill 163 recognizes the benefit of harvesting rainwater the for state’s future water supply.

North Dakota

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Ohio

Rainwater harvesting is legal for both non-potable and potable uses, as long as the water system is providing drinking water to fewer than 25 people (Ohio Rev. Code §3701.344).

Oklahoma

Rainwater harvesting is legal. The Water for 2060 Act initiates grants for water conservation projects, such as campaigns for harvesting rainwater.

Oregon

Rainwater harvesting is legal, but rainwater can only be collected from systems on rooftop surfaces.

Pennsylvania

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

Rhode Island

Rainwater harvesting is legal and citizens are provided incentives for harvesting. House Bill 7070 gives a tax credit for 10% of the cost of installing a cistern to individuals or businesses who do.

South Carolina

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged.

South Dakota

Rainwater harvesting is legal.

Tennessee

The enactment of Senate Bill 2417/ House Bill 1850 allows for the use of green infrastructure practices, making rainwater harvesting legal.

Texas

Rainwater harvesting is legal with some regulations. House Bill 3391 states that the collection system needs to be incorporated into the design of the building and a written notice needs to be given to the municipality.

Utah

Rainwater harvested is allowed on land owned or leased by the person responsible for the collection. Additional regulations exist, according to Senate Bill 32, depending on if a person is registered with the Division of Water Resources or not. A person who is registered may store no more than 2,500 gallons of rainwater, and a person who is unregistered may use no more than two containers at 100 gallons or less per container.

Vermont

Rainwater harvesting is legal.

Virginia

Senate Bill 1416 grants an income tax credit to citizens who install rainwater-harvesting systems. Virginia Code §32.1-248.2 states that The Department of the state, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Quality, shall promote the use of rainwater to help reduce fresh water consumption, promote conservation and reduce demand on water supply systems.

Washington

Rainwater collection is legal. A water permit is not required for rooftop harvesting systems.

West Virginia

Rainwater harvesting is legal.

Wisconsin

Rainwater harvesting is legal.

Wyoming

Rainwater harvesting is legal.

Rank State 2019 Pop. 2019 Growth
1California39,747,2670.48%
2Texas29,087,0701.34%
3Florida21,646,1551.63%
4New York19,491,339-0.26%
5Pennsylvania12,813,9690.05%
6Illinois12,700,381-0.32%
7Ohio11,718,5680.25%
8Georgia10,627,7671.03%
9North Carolina10,497,7411.10%
10Michigan10,020,4720.25%
11New Jersey8,922,5470.16%
12Virginia8,571,9460.64%
13Washington7,666,3431.74%
14Arizona7,275,0701.44%
15Massachusetts6,939,3730.54%
16Tennessee6,833,7930.94%
17Indiana6,718,6160.40%
18Missouri6,147,8610.35%
19Maryland6,062,9170.33%
20Wisconsin5,832,6610.33%
21Colorado5,770,5451.32%
22Minnesota5,655,9250.80%
23South Carolina5,147,1111.24%
24Alabama4,898,2460.21%
25Louisiana4,652,581-0.16%
26Kentucky4,484,0470.35%
27Oregon4,245,9011.32%
28Oklahoma3,948,9500.15%
29Connecticut3,567,871-0.13%
30Utah3,221,6101.91%
31Iowa3,167,9970.38%
32Puerto Rico3,113,659-2.55%
33Nevada3,087,0251.73%
34Arkansas3,026,4120.42%
35Mississippi2,987,8950.05%
36Kansas2,910,931-0.02%
37New Mexico2,096,0340.03%
38Nebraska1,940,9190.60%
39West Virginia1,791,951-0.77%
40Idaho1,790,1822.05%
41Hawaii1,416,589-0.27%
42New Hampshire1,363,8520.55%
43Maine1,342,0970.28%
44Montana1,074,5321.15%
45Rhode Island1,056,738-0.05%
46Delaware975,0330.81%
47South Dakota892,6311.18%
48North Dakota760,9000.11%
49Alaska735,720-0.23%
50District of Columbia711,5711.30%
51Vermont627,1800.14%
52Wyoming572,381-0.93%