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States where it is Illegal to Collect Rainwater

States where it is Illegal to Collect Rainwater

State Laws on Rainwater Collection

As global warming and the threat of water scarcity continue to loom, the ancient practice of rainwater harvesting is regaining attention. Embracing traditional wisdom, many homes across the U.S. are installing systems to gather and store rainwater for on-site use, which not only reduces the strain on municipal water facilities but also supports conservation efforts.

In a country as geographically diverse as the United States, the laws surrounding the collection of rainwater vary. While the Federal Government holds no restrictions regarding the practice, state laws tend to differ based on historic water-rights, local ecosystems, and contemporary conservation priorities.

Key findings include:

  • A significant majority of the states show considerable support for rainwater harvesting. These states not only permit rainwater collection but also offer incentives to encourage residents to do so.
  • However, five states — Georgia, Washington, Utah, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Ohio, Arkansas, Illinois, Virginia, and Nevada — do impose restrictions on the volume and manner of rainwater collection to protect local ecosystems and uphold historic water rights.
  • Interestingly, it is predominantly the Western states that have restrictions. This can be traced back to the old "first-come, first-serve" water laws or 'prior appropriation', where all precipitation was considered to belong to existing water-rights owners.
  • Importantly, while these states have restrictions, none of them outright ban the collection of rainwater, reflecting a nationwide acknowledgment of the role rainwater harvesting can play in sustainable living.

By State

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Frequently Asked Questions


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