Rain water harvesting regulations state by state: updates

Update July 15, 2013:

New Jersey regulations do not appear to make rain barrels, or rain water harvesting for the individual home owner against the law. There are programs in the state that encourage rooftop rainwater harvesting:

The official website of the state of New Jersey regarding water:


At the above page click on the link that says “all about water”


Then click on the link that says “Water allocation and registrations”

that takes you here: New Jersey state website about water rules:

State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Supply and Geoscience


New Jersey water supply allocation rules 2008:


The PDF at the above link is 90 pages. The definitions section clearly states: nothing about rain water harvesting for or against. Also the water “owned” by the state is clearly defined as not including rain, but just about everything else.


Rutgers (in N.J.) paper on rain water harvesting:


at the page the above link takes you to click on the “download pdf” button

This should offer you the down load of:

“Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting For Plant Irrigation I:Design

Concepts and Water QuantityFact Sheet FS1162

Cooperative ExtensionSalvatore S. Mangiafico, Environmental and Resource Management AgentChristopher C. Obropta, Extension Specialist in Water ResourcesElaine Rossi-Griffin, Program Coordinator, Environmental Science”


from Page 4:

“Legal ConsiderationsThe authors know of no regulations at this timegoverning cistern installation for private use in NewJersey except that using cisterns in a drinking watersystem is typically not allowed (NJDEP 2004). Otherstates may have regulations stipulating, for example,the allowable size and material of storage tanks, orthe maximum allowable amount of water that can beharvested. State laws and local ordinances should beconsulted when designing any rainwater harvestingsystem.”



Update June 26, 2013:

Illinois: Rainwater harvesting is highly regulated and the “regulations” are incredibly complex. That said, the codes there have recently been changed to allow, what appears to be “rain barrels”. Here is a quote from the regulations:

“Section 890.2105 Permits  Where permits are required by the authority having jurisdiction, it shall be unlawful for any person to construct, install, alter, or cause to be constructed, installed, or altered any alternate water source system in a building or on a premise without first obtaining a permit from the authority having jurisdiction.A plumbing permit is not required for the following: ILLINOIS REGISTER DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH  NOTICE OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS a) Exterior rainwater catchment systems used for outdoor drip and subsurface irrigation with a maximum storage capacity of 360 gallons.b) Rainwater catchment systems for single family dwellings where all outlets,piping, and system components are located on the exterior of the building. This does not exempt the need for permits if required for electrical connections, tank supports, or enclosures.”



If someone says “rainwater harvesting in Illinois is against the law”, they are partially correct. . .  however, in reference to rain barrels, they are wrong. This is why I have given Illinois, a near failing grade on rainwater harvesting. Way ,way, wwwaaaayyyy too many regulations. Here is the URL of the pdf document I accessed on June 26, 2013 at 0930 PDT:

http://www.pcaofchicago.com/Docs/Documents/Part_%20890_Plumbing_Code_Amendments_4_10_13.pdf this is from section 890.2105 which turns out to be page 137 on a “fit page width” pdf reader.



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.

Update: June 21, 2013

Another search about the legality of harvesting rain water found this blog; this time regarding the state of Wisconsin

We found 2 pages with info at the Wisconson DNR site.


At the above link is the explanation of what they mean by “withdrawal”  below is the info in quotes:

“What is a withdrawal? What does it mean to withdraw?Withdraw or withdrawal means the taking of water from surface water or groundwater.There are many different methods for withdrawing water including wells, intake pipes,and ditches. When someone withdraws water, it is taken out of or redirected from its natural course making it unavailable for other purposes,even if only temporarily”

The next link is to info that specifies when a permit is needed:


“Water use permitting Background Effective December 8, 2011, a Water Use permit is required before persons may withdraw water in quantities that average 100,000 gallons per day (equivalent to 70 gallons per minute for 24 hours straight) or more in any 30-day period from groundwater or surface water in the Great Lakes Basin [PDF 764KB]. Examples include public water systems, high capacity well owners, and others who withdraw water from lakes and streams such as fish farms and golf courses.There are two types of Water Use permits:Water Use General Permit – Required for withdrawals that average 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period but do not equal at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 consecutive days.Water Use Individual Permit – Required for withdrawals that equal at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 consecutive days.”

It is hardly concievable that a rain barrel setup at the average homeowner’s residence will use more than 100,000 gallons in a month.

My interpretation is : its not against the law to set up rain barrels in Wisconsin.

What’s yours? Does anyone from Wisconsin have any more info?

As I continue to read through regulations on this issue, a pattern is emerging:

1. Most state governments desire to protect citizen’s right to access clean safe water.

2. Wealthy people who desire to either hoard, or hog water for their own “profit” are the ones who scream the loudest and spew forth prevaricated, biased information; when state governments tell them they cannot, blatantly, obviously, and deliberately prevent others’ access to water.

3. Regulations on rain water harvesting are changing rapidly. Washington state, Utah, and Colorado have recently changed their laws on rain water harvesting to allow individuals the freedom to set up rainwater catchment systems without requiring permits.

4. Government is NOT getting “more restrictive” regarding rain water harvesting, quite the opposite, restrictions are being removed rapidly.

5. Cities and counties often have restrictions that state governments do not have, and don’t control. This may be where some of the negative attitudes are coming from that are so prevalent on some “prepper” blogs and websites.

6. We the people are the government.  If you must point a finger, be sure there aren’t 3 more pointing right back at you on your own hand !!!!!

Again, if anyone reading this has any information that adds to or contradicts anything on this blog, post it here with a link to the source, please.




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3 Responses to Rain water harvesting regulations state by state: updates

  1. Deb Lykim says:

    Can I ask a question… a friend was told it is illegal to catch rain in a bucket. Her purpose was watering her plants. Regardless of the purpose, I don’t see how it’s a law anywhere in the world. I understand if there’s a draught… People should pull together as a community bla bla bla…..

    Who do I contact to learn if my specific city has such laws? Oh, and do city laws supercede state laws? ty

  2. filter_guy says:

    Contact your city council. There are levels of government to go through, however. There are HOA’s (Home Owners Associations), city governments, county governments, state governments, and the federal government. To the best of my knowledge based on my research, there are no (0) state governments that outlaw rain water collection by individuals for personal and domestic use. The last state government to “legalize” rain water harvesting by individuals for personal and domestic use was Colorado. That was last year (2017).

  3. Dale says:

    According to this Wisconsin magazine, it is even a recommendation to set up rain barrels in Wisconsin. http://dnr.wi.gov/wnrmag/2011/06/water.htm

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