In which states are people allowed to collect rainwater?

(KRQE(NEXSTAR) – It might seem like the most natural thing, even a great use of rainwater: to collect it. But did you know it might be illegal to do so in your state?

While collecting rainwater is not the case federal Because water is illegal, many states have restrictions and water laws are primarily regulated at the state level. Alternatively, some states even offer incentives for those who collect rainwater.

Where are there restrictions on rainwater collection?

States that have certain restrictions on stormwater collection include: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Kansas and North Dakota may require a stormwater harvesting permit. In all states not listed above, collecting rainwater is legal.

The World Water Reserve released one Complete guide for each state to explain which states are allowed to collect rainwater and which are not. The US Department of Energy also has an interactive Rainwater Harvesting Regulations Map to help residents figure out if it’s okay to fill a barrel or bucket.

Why are some states restricting water collection?

Because water availability in the United States varies widely, each state must adapt its water use practices to its climate. According to the WWR, most states follow the reasonable use doctrine to set restrictions; The doctrine states: “Anyone who has a right to water may reasonably use it for his or her own benefit so long as doing so does not interfere with the right of others to use the water.”

The main reason some states limit collection is that too much rainwater can disrupt the cycle of precipitation seeping back into the earth. It is recommended to check yours State laws regarding water use for more details.


In the state of New Mexico, collecting rainwater is completely legal and even encouraged. In Albuquerque, the Water Authority even offers discounts based on the amount of rain that can be stored in each rain barrel. Amounts range from $25 for 50-149 gallons to $150 for over 1,500 gallons.

Another New Mexico city, Santa Fe, also offers discounts for small and large-scale stormwater collection. Discounts range from $12 for 50-99 gallons to $50 for 200-499 gallons.

In these and all areas where such offers exist, there may be restrictions on the incentives.

Why collect rainwater?

As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThere are many practical uses for rainwater, including watering non-food crops.

During rainwater can possibly Though it can be used for bathing and even drinking, the CDC warns that you should never assume rainwater is safe because it can naturally harbor germs and other pollutants.

In general, it’s recommended not to use “consume it” if you have another option.

Still, the CDC says there are ways to help make rainwater saferincluding filtration systems, chemical disinfection and cooking.


Another risk to consider when collecting or storing rainwater is that the container could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. As explained by North Carolina State University, adult female mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of stagnant water. Eggs only take about 24-48 hours to hatch.

Measures to prevent this include placing a strainer over the water intake and emptying the containers at least every 10 days, according to the CDC. NC State University also recommends that those using stormwater harvesting (RWH) systems ensure entry points are secure and/or sealed and even have additional construction devices to prevent overflow.

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