As of December 3, 2013; after hours of ongoing research, I have found that there is NO state government law in the U.S. that considers rainwater harvesting by individuals in a direct manor and bluntly, “against the law” for anyone and everyone, with the possible exception of Colorado, and Ohio, where only some people can legally collect rainwater from their rooftop surfaces. Of the 23 state government websites I have already personally looked at, it is obvious that in each case, “government” is NOT becoming more restrictive with rain water harvesting. In fact, as time moves on rain water harvesting is being encouraged. Rain water harvesting is allowed in New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, Washington state, Oregon, Alabama, West Virginia, Wyoming, California, Florida, Maine, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, South Dakota, South Carolina, Kentucky, Nevada and Arkansas; this I have confirmed by looking at the state websites myself. (Be aware that this is my interpretation of what I read.) There are some regulations which differ from state to state; but the practice of rainwater harvesting and setting up rain barrels and / or storage systems for use by the individual is not “against state law”. There are links below to the sources of my research results and to other’s research results. Ohio, Illinois, Colorado and Utah have numerous restrictions on rainwater harvesting, but it is not “illegal” in those states. Furthermore, Colorado, and Utah have recently changed their laws to allow rain water harvesting for some residents. Utah shows a very informed reasonable approach to rain water harvesting. Colorado’s laws regarding rain water are still backward, archaic and ridiculous; however they are changing – slowly. There are still unreasonable, irrational, and mis-informed restrictions involving “ownership of rain water” in this state. If you live in Colorado, you are just out of luck unless you are on a well, or have water rights to your land. Washington state changed their laws in 2009 to allow rain water harvesting for any homeowner in a very similar fashion to Utah. If you live in Washington state or Utah, congratulations, your state government is apparently getting a clue. Set up your rain barrels.
Keep in mind that there may be, however, some communities that exist in any U.S. state, where “rain barrels” are prohibited by local ordinances; and “home owner’s associations” may have strict regulations specifically prohibiting rain barrels . Fortunately, this closed minded outdated way of thinking here in the states is changing for the better and rain water harvesting is growing in acceptance.
Update December 4, 2013 regarding Nevada:
Back in 2009, the University of Nevada published this information on setting up rain barrels, and rain water harvesting.
At the Nevada state government website there is this info on water there are about 1900 various definitions, regulations and statements regarding water. I’ve read through them and not seen anything mentioning rain barrels or roof water harvesting. It is highly unlikely that the University would recommend rain barrels if they were against the law. It appears as though rain water harvesting by individuals for personal use is ok in Nevada. If anyone finds info to the contrary, please post your findings here with a link to the source.
Update December 4, 2013 regarding Kentucky:
From the Kentucky state government website page:
Kentucky Administrative Regulations
TITLE 401 ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT CABINET DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION 401 KAR 4:010. Water withdrawal permits, criteria, reports.
Reading section , 1 it does appear as though anything under 10,000 gallons per day does not require a permit. I found nothing on the rest of the website regarding rain water harvesting by individual homeowners. This could possibly mean that rain barrels are not illegal.
Here are some more links to possible relevant pages on the Kentucky government website:
More from the state of Kentucky:
From the University of Kentucky:
The above links should be enough to show that rain barrels and rain water harvesting in Kentucky is not against the law.
Update December 3, 2013 regarding Indiana:
After some research at the Indiana government website regarding water and rain barrels, I found nothing prohibiting the use of rain barrels to store roof water runoff. I found that The state DNR encourgages the use of rain barrels as a method of reducing runoff and using water wisely.
Read about the individuals right to water access here. Read more info for yourself : Indiana rules regarding water Read through this next link to discover how the Indiana state government agencies recommend rain barrels to prevent pollution.
Update October 27, 2013 regarding New Jersey:
I spent several hours at the New Jersey state gov’t. website. I found nothing specifically prohibiting rain water harvesting by individual home owners. I did find an unbelievably complex collection of rules regarding water sources other than rain water / roof water; read them for yourself and make your own interpretation:
Water Allocation and Registrations
“A Water Allocation Permit is required for the diversion of ground and/or surface water in excess of 100,000* gallons per day for a period of more than 30 days in a 365 consecutive day period, for purposes other than agriculture, aquaculture or horticulture. This includes water diversions for public water supply, industrial processing and cooling, irrigation, sand and gravel operations, remediation, power generation, and other uses. For these use types diversion limits are set within a Water Allocation Permit, Water Use Registration, or Permit-by-Rule. A Water Use Registration is required for any person with the capability to divert in excess of 100,000* gallons of water per day, but who diverts less than this quantity.”
Page with links to water related regulations
Update October 24, 2013 regarding Alabama:
It appears as though ALABAMA A&M AND AUBURN UNIVERSITIES extension service encourages rain water harvesting. It is highly unlikely that they would encourage something that is against state law.
Update: October 3, 2013:
Although I have not found any information suggesting that “big government” is “making rainwater harvesting illegal” I have just found some related information that is very, very disturbing. This info is old, dating from the late 1930′s and 1942, but is still in effect. Read about the Wickard VS Filburn supreme court case here. And another, even more disturbing, more recent piece of information: Kelo Vs. (the city of) New London, regarding the power of eminent domain. To make a long story shorter, this whole thing boils down to mainly money; and to a lesser degree; agriculture, production quotas, and finding someone else to blame. Read the articles for yourself. They are not about water, but could easily be.
Thirty two (32) states (see below) have very little regulation at all on rainwater harvesting. ONLY FOUR (4) states severely limit rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is not “illegal in most states” as some would like to think. State government laws have NOT been “recently changing” to take away people’s rights to collect rain water. There is not some conspiracy by “big government” to “own” the rain. There is, however, in every case I have checked, considerable government regulation regarding those who try to hog millions of gallons of water for themselves. Wealthy people attempting to set up their own private water monopolies are the ones who scream the loudest. All that said, its still a good idea to keep a very close eye on government, and a much closer eye on big business, corporations and “water for profit”. Individual cities, counties, and “planned residential communities” may have ordinances making rain barrels, or rain water harvesting against their “laws”, which then puts the “regulation” in the hands of whoever can afford the best legal assistance. Corporations offering bottled water for sale and expensive distribution systems installed to enable real estate development are the result.
Update September 16; regarding West Virginia:
After several hours of research at the West Virgina state gov’t. website, I found nothing specifically prohibiting rain water harvesting as it would apply to the individual household needing water for domestic purposes by catching a few thousand gallons of rainwater to be stored for future use. I did find (again) that there are regulations on wells, ground water, and surface water use and water rights.
The West Virginia website has an entire page describing how to set up rain water harvesting for the individual home owner. It is highly unlikely that rain barrels are “illegal in West Virginia” as far as the state government is concerned. Absolutely check with local authorities regarding additional laws.
Update September 13; regarding Wyoming:
After several hours of research at the Wyoming state gov’t. website I found nothing specifically prohibiting rain water harvesting as it would apply to the individual household needing water for domestic purposes by catching a few thousand gallons of rainwater to be stored for future use. There are hundreds of pages of regulations on wells, ground water, and surface water use and water rights. There are very specific laws applying to anything other than “domestic” use, where large volumes of water are to be used (hundreds of gallons per hour). Read through the links below. Rain, as a direct source of water is not specifically mentioned as it would apply to “regulating” a homeowner setting up a rainwater harvesting system. There are laws specifically regulating appropriation of water from natural water flow in rivers, and streams, and flow into and out of lakes.
the history of Wyoming water rights a better understanding of the situation in Wyoming may be attained. There are big water issues in Wyoming. It is very hot and dry there and water is a big issue. In areas where rainfall is low, there will likely be local regulations limiting water use.
Update August 26; regarding Florida:
There have been a number of searches accessing this blog regarding rain water harvesting legality in the state of Florida. After several hours of searching at the Florida state government’s site, I found nothing specifically prohibiting rain barrels, or rain water harvesting by individuals at the state level. I found that, in the Florida keys, rain water harvesting is the main source for all the water.
Whether or not a person can “legally” set up rain barrels in this state will likely be determined mainly at the local level as of right now. This situation is likely to change.
Again, the regulations regarding water use are extremely complex and there are hundreds of documents. Here are some of the main links I found:
From these above links you will find the information used in this post, and interpretation. Also here is another link to a list of Florida building and plumbing codes:
From the above links, it can be shown that there are major water issues in Florida, including a long running dispute with the state of Georgia. Look for rainwater harvesting to become very important in this area of the country very soon.
If you have arrived here searching for laws regarding rainwater harvesting, check first with your homeowner’s association, county, or city officials. Next check your state Department of Natural Resources.
Update August 21, 2013 Regarding Maine:
I have found nothing at the Maine state gov’t website stating that rain barrels, or rain water harvesting by individual homeowners is against state law. Also a search through the water rules page turned up nothing about rain barrels or rain water harvesting by individual homeowners. I have found a document describing how to set up rain barrels in Portland, Maine. There are so many rules about other water issues, that it would take hours to go through them all. I spent about 3 hours reading through some of the information. The general trend is to regulate and monitor large polluters, new construction, and potential polluters, and situations involving hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. It is highly unlikely that the city of Portland, Maine would be encouraging rain barrel use if it were against state law.
Update August 8, 2013 Regarding Tennessee:
I have found absolutely nothing on the Tennessee gov’t website to indicate that rain barrels or rain water harvesting by individuals is against the law. Above 50,000 gallons per day is mentioned as the lower limit at which any amount above requires a permit. This is in regards to ground water. Surface water is covered in another regulation but, the regulation does not mention rain water, or rain barrels. 50,000 gallons a day is wwwwaaaaaaayyyyyy more than anyone will ever collect in a rain barrel or even 100 rain barrels in 1 day. Read the info at the links provided above, and search the Tennessee gov’t website. If anyone finds “regulations” or “laws” making rain barrels or rain water harvesting below 50,000 gallons per day illegal, please post the link here.
Rainwater harvesting and rain barrels are, in fact, encouraged in the city of Knoxville in conjunction with the University of Tennessee.
Update August 8, 2013 regarding Georgia:
The state of Georgia updated its plumbing code in reference to rain water harvesting. The state’s laws do permit rain water harvesting, and do not restrict it if the usage is for outdoor use only. The document says that local jurisdictions may have more restrictive laws than what is contained in the state’s laws. This likely means that there may be places in Georgia where rain water harvesting is against the “law”. A person would have to research every city, county, and housing development in the state to get a totally accurate picture of the rainwater harvesting laws there. For those who live in one of the areas in Georgia, (if there are indeed any) that make rain barrels, or rain water harvesting against ”their” laws, . . . . darn. I hope things change for you.
Update July 17, 2013 Regarding Missouri:
Here is information on rain barrels from the Missouri state Department of Natural Resources If you read this it will become quite obvious that rain water harvesting using rain barrels is not against the law in Missouri, it is encouraged by the government.
Update July 3, 2013: Regarding South Dakota:
I checked the South Dakota gov’t website. Rain barrels, or rainwater harvesting is not against the law in that state. There are regulations on water usage, but I found nothing regarding rain water harvesting being illegal. See the links directly below to read the gov’t words for yourself:
Using water in South Dakota: http://denr.sd.gov/des/wr/wateruse.aspx
Summary of permits: http://denr.sd.gov/documents/DENRPermittingSummary.pdf
About water rights in South Dakota: http://denr.sd.gov/des/wr/watrightsapps.aspx
At this link is a good explanation of South Dakota’s water laws. Read it carefully, along with the other information in the above links. Seems that South Dakota does not desire to interfere with the rights of the individual’s access to water. Looks like the state Gov’t has the good of the average citizen as a priority. I did not find ANY information stating that rain water harvesting was “illegal”: http://denr.sd.gov/des/wr/summary.aspx#Ownership
Update June 27, 2013:
Info on South Carolina’s rain water harvesting stance; links to the South Carolina’s DNR page:
South carolina’s laws regarding surface water are here click the link on “water law” chapter2
at this pdf look in chapter 2 page 2-12. It does not appear that South Carolina has any laws against rainwater harvesting.
At the other S.C. DNR links above it is pointed out that South Carolina gets lots of rain throughout the through the state. There are lots of websites originating in South Carolina, particularly the one from Clemson University, with detailed information regarding setting up small rainwater harvesting systems.
Update June 23, 2013
Another search looking for rainwater harvesting legality. This time the search was regarding Arkansas. I found the following at the Arkansas state government website:
from page 44, Appendix A
From state government Arkansas water planArkansas soil and water conservation CommissionExecutive Summary found here:
“SUBTITLE II. SURFACE WATER DIVERSION REGISTRATION. Section 302.1. REQUIREMENT TO REGISTER. (a) All persons who divert surface water. except as hereinafter exempted, shall report the diversion no later than March I st for the prior water (b) The reports shall be made on forms provided by the Commission and shall be made to the Commission or to their local Conservation Districl. (c) Late registrations will be accepted only upon the payment of the appropriate fee as established by Section 302.7. Section 302.2. EXEMPTIONS: The following diversions are exempt from the requirement of registration: (a) Diversions by any person of less than 325,900 gallons (I acre-foot of water in any water year. (b) Water diverted from natural lakes or ponds in the exclusive ownership of one person. (c) Diffused surface water.”
If you read through the beginning of this document you will find the definitions of “diversion”.
Looks like its not against the law to collect rainwater in Arkansas, providing you don’t “hog” all the water. This is a continuing pattern. The average person is not prevented from capturing rain water.
Update June 19, 2013:
A recent search that found this blog was asking why it is against the law to capture rainwater in Kansas. The following link to the Kansas gov’t site shows clearly that it is not against the law for people to capture rainwater in Kansas for their own personal use; even lots of it for a small farm is ok to catch. At the page the link takes you to, go all the way down the page to where the “Rainwater harvesting Q&A” section is located. There you will read the info straight from the source. If you read it carefully, you will find that the Kansas government has the foresight to require more than 15 acre-feet per year to be regulated. This makes total sense, but can easily be misconstrued to mean that nobody can collect rain water. This is a good example of how facts get distorted by mis-information and those who wish to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt. What the regulations are actually saying is that a person can’t “hog” all the water. Like making their own personal lake. The gov’t is actually trying to keep big businesses from taking water from the citizenry; this is NOT about the gov’t trying to take water away from the citizenry. . . . it is still a good idea to keep a close watch on government, and a closer eye on corruption and the money trail. Closer reading of the document, suggests that individual cities in Kansas may have ordinances regarding rain water harvesting that are in addition to the state’s laws.
Note that, so far, we have (mostly second hand) documentation that there are only 4 states in which “state” government effectively severely impairs (and in some cases prohibits) the individual’s access to rain water harvesting (roof water harvesting) through ( mostly unenforced ) local laws, rules and extensive regulations. And no documentation regarding federal laws or regulations. Still, it is prudent to keep a close eye on the workings of government, especially when there is the real possiblity of “motive for profit” entering into the regulatory system through bribes and contributions.
After some more research on this issue of rainwater harvesting regulations, I have found that this issue is far more complex than just a few links to some “authoritative” sources, and rainwater harvesting regulations are still nebulous and nearly impossible to document accurately. I have been unable to find a reliable source with links to each state’s actual regulations or lack of regulations. I think it may be possible but it would take hundreds of hours to accurately document each state’s legislation with links directly to each state’s government, and those links would likely change very quickly. I have read through some of the legislation in the California state government, the Virginia state government, the Washington state government, Utah state government, and the Oregon state government; and a research paper put out by the EPA, which states on page iii:
“This document was prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Water, Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. The EPA Project Manager for this document was Chris Solloway, who provided overall direction and coordination. EPA was supported in the development of this document by The Low Impact Development Center, Inc and Geosyntec Consultants. ”
This document can be found (as of May 28, 2013) here:
As I am sure that very soon this url will be obfuscated, here is contact info regarding this paper:
“Rainwater Harvesting: Conservation, Credit, Codes, and Cost Literature Review and Case StudiesContact InformationFor more information, questions, or comments about this document, contactChris Solloway at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water,Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, MailCode 4503T, Washington, DC 20460, or by email at Solloway.Chris@epamail.epa.gov. January 2013 EPA-841-R-13-002″
Some of the above mentioned documents are extremely difficult to understand and most likely require interpretation by lawyer for a complete understanding.
We have no problem with the truth. If anyone has documentation of errors in the content of this post, please do supply links to the sources suggesting corrections. The information I am posting here is as of February 26, 2013. This info will most likely change. Again, please; if you have new information on anything posted here, please post it with a link to the source, and this post will be changed to reflect the new information.
Here is a link to info that is updated frequently regarding the current status of
The above link appears to load poorly. Here is another link to the same site that lists incentives and regulations state by state
The National Conference of state legislatures has this webpage with somewhat different rain water harvesting information regarding the states that have regulations in place regarding rain water (roof water) harvesting. This page claims that there are 12 states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where rainwater harvesting is dealt with by government regulations and suggestions:
Please note: what follows below contains interpretation of facts and may be inaccurate:
Also here is my interpretation of the data, giving the highest grade to states with laws (or lack of them) that respect individual freedom, and failing grades to states with excessive restrictions on individual freedom with regard to rain water (roof water) harvesting, and please be advised that much of this info is second hand and possibly unreliable:
Idaho rainwater harvesting is basically unregulated except for restricting use of rain water that has entered natural water ways. This state’s attitude makes the most sense.
Here is a link to another site that has some info on Idaho.
Here is a link to a letter from the Attorney General of Idaho basically indicating why I give an A+ to Idaho for having the best and most rational law regarding rainwater harvesting.
The following get an A (no laws or statutes regarding rainwater harvesting)
The following get an A-
Washington state has laws and incentives. Rain water harvesting is legal, and basically non-encumbered.
Texas promotes rainwater harvesting. Lots of info, and state involvement.
North Carolina has incentives. Has requirements that rainwater harvesting must be used and adopted.
New Mexico has strict regulations on water rights, but no regulations on the “ownership” of rainwater.
Hawaii no regulations against and it is not illegal
Florida Is working on incentives and regulations. Not against the law.
Arizona has a positive, permissive attitude about rainwater harvesting and some incentives are offered. There are regulations.
Oregon has restrictions, and regulations, however rainwater harvesting is permitted; provided it is harvested from roof surfaces only.
Utah still has restrictions, but has recently allowed rainwater harvesting. They clearly state on their website at the aforementioned link that rainwater harvesting is legal. This law is very similar to the one in Washington state.
California has a huge list of regulations must read to understand. Overwhleming.
Minnesota not much info available.
Georgia has recently changed its laws in favor of rain water harvesting . . . . however, the state’s laws say that local authority trumps the state authority. This, in effect, makes rain water harvesting severely impaired and keeps the door open to corporate water monopoly. So Georgia gets a nearly failing grade. Sorry, Georgia.
The following states are miserable failures as far as rain water harvesting. If you live in one of these states I truly feel sorry for you.
Illinois rainwater harvesting is regulated and limited, but they are working on it.
Colorado has started allowing some rainwater harvesting, but it is still severely limited and highly regulated. Read it here for yourself: Only some people can legally collect rainwater.
Ohio lots of restrictions and regulations. The most restrictive and regulated state in the country. Read some of the gov’t info in the following pdf: Ohio state gov’t appears to “allow” rainwater harvesting.