rainwater harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting: Rules and Regulations in the U.S.

Top Gardening Craze

Rainwater harvesting is the top gardening craze this year on Pinterest, and with good reason. The collection and storage of rain is an eco-friendly approach to reduce domestic mains water usage by as much as 50% according to research by Rain Harvesting. Collected water can be used both outdoors for the garden or for washing cars. It can be also be used indoors for things such as cleaning and toilet flushing, among others. Although the activity is not entirely illegal in the US, there are some exceptions and rules that you must know to ensure that you are abiding by the law.
Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting Restrictions

The average rainfall in America, except for Hawaii and Alaska, is around 30 inches. However, arid states such as Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, to name some, receive lower rainfall between 9-17cm. Overall, water conservation and management are crucial to support agricultural, commercial, and private activities. For example, landscaping experts look at water usage challenges and recommend sustainable watering systems to support vegetation. RWH is one strategy to conserve water and decrease the pressure on existing supplies.
Rainwater harvesting is not illegal in most states but is heavily regulated in Colorado and Utah. Collection in the former is limited to two barrels or a maximum of 110 gallons. It can only be used for non-potable uses and, on the property, where it was harvested. 

Utah, on the other hand, puts a cap on harvests of up to 2,500 gallons. In addition, you must register to capture and store rainwater under the Utah Division of Water Rights. 

Arkansas is another state where rainwater harvesting is heavily regulated. As such, rainwater collection is permitted for non-drinking purposes only. Rainwater harvesting systems must comply with the Arkansas Plumbing Code and includes connection safeguards to avoid contamination with other water sources. 

The bottom line is rainwater collection is allowed on residential or commercial properties for non-drinking purposes such as lawn irrigation or flushing toilets. If you plan to collect rainwater for drinking purposes and other activities such as cooking or showering, you must comply with your state’s health department as you will be required to install a professional filtering system.

Rewarding Rainwater Collection

While some states allow rainwater harvest for domestic use without a permit such as for livestock, pasturelands, lawn, and garden, there are also several that do not impose restrictions and regulations. On the contrary, certain counties in Florida offer incentives to capture rainwater. 

In Louisiana, Green Light New Orleans distributes rain barrels to encourage collection, while the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources supports harvesting of rainwater for outside uses. Maryland has a rebate program for residents, offering $2 per gallon or up to $4,000 for as long as rain barrels capture 50 gallons.
A similar program exists in New Jersey with rebate limits at $2,500 for residences and $10,000 for businesses. Rhode Island, on the other hand, offers a tax credit of 10% of the installation cost of a cistern or up to $1,000. Texas also promotes rainwater harvesting through tax incentives and exemption from sales and property taxes of collection equipment.
Harvesting rainwater may be permitted without restrictions in several states, while others are somewhat or heavily regulated. Before investing in a collection system, it is important to check with the local authorities, department of health, water board, and the department of agriculture as laws and even plumbing codes are subject to change.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, rainwater harvesting is a sustainable and eco-friendly way to conserve water and reduce your environmental impact. However, it’s important to be aware of the rules and regulations in your state before you set up a rainwater collection system. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you’re harvesting rainwater in a safe and legal manner. 

If you’re interested in setting up a rainwater collection system, be sure to check out our other article on how to do it right. 6 Easy Steps to Setting Up a Rain Barrel Rainwater Collection System. With our expert tips and step-by-step guide, you can create a rainwater harvesting system that meets your needs and helps you save money on your water bill. So, what are you waiting for? Start harvesting rainwater today and make a positive contribution to the environment.

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