Collecting rainwater illegal? ( Laws in all 50 States )

Collecting rainwater is by far one of the easiest ways of getting water especially if you are not connected to the local water pipes. Most people who do live off the grid tend to harvest rainwater, although in some states the climate is not favorable for collecting rainwater. There are some states which encourage collecting rainwater with rebates and incentives and there are some states where collecting rainwater is heavily regulated and restricted.

Collecting rainwater is legal in all states, however, there are some states which do have regulations and restrictions regarding rainwater harvesting. There are a couple of states where collecting rainwater used to be illegal but things have changed, collecting rainwater in California is legal since 2012, and in Colorado since 2016. States that have a water shortage tend to have some restrictions or regulations regarding rainwater harvesting, while others offer statewide or local incentives for it.

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The states that have regulations and restrictions regarding the collection of rainwater do have a good reason for them, mostly because the local freshwater supply is fairly limited and the entire population will suffer if the local freshwater availability becomes so low that it can no longer fill the needs of the population. For the most part, these restrictions and regulations will only slow down the usage of freshwater in most areas.

Global warming and frequent droughts make it impossible for the local aquifers and rivers to be replenished, and in some states, water will be a massive problem in the following years. Arizona for example mostly relies on the Colorado River, which has been shrinking every year. For the most part, states where collecting rainwater is regulated do it out of necessity, the more water enters the ground the faster it can replenish the local aquifers and rivers which then can be used by the local population.

On the other hand, there are states which do encourage rainwater collecting, and some of them even have generous rebates and incentives for rainwater harvesting. If you want to know which states are the best for off grid living then check out my recent article Best states for off grid living ( 1-50 Best to Worst ).

Table of Contents

Collecting rainwater in Alabama

Collecting rainwater in Alabama is legal, as long as you own the property you have the right to collect rainwater without any restrictions and regulations. Alabama has a favorable climate for collecting rainwater as it gets around 56 inches of rainfall every year. The state doesn’t have any problems with fresh water and this is why there are no restrictions for collecting rainwater. Currently, Alabama doesn’t have any state or local incentives for rainwater collecting. If you want to know how is living off the grid in this state then check out my recent article Off grid living in Alabama ( Heart of Dixie ).

Collecting rainwater in Alaska

Collecting rainwater in Alaska is legal, as this state doesn’t have any problems regarding freshwater. The main reason why Alaska doesn’t have any restrictions and regulations regarding collecting rainwater is that the state gets anything between 60-200 inches of rainfall every year. Most people who live in Alaska tend to collect rainwater, although you will have to purchase water rights if you want to use groundwater. Currently, Alaska doesn’t have any state or local incentives for collecting rainwater. If you want to take a look at how is living off the grid in this state then check out my recent article Off grid living in Alaska ( The Last Frontier ).

Collecting rainwater in Arizona

Collecting rainwater in Arizona is legal, although the state has a massive problem with freshwater, as most of the state relies on the Colorado River for its freshwater supply which has been shrinking for a couple of years already. There are two house bills 2363 and 2830 which allow people and communities to collect rainwater in this state. Arizona has a state wide incentive for collecting rainwater called the Individual Water Conservation Systems, which is a tax credit of up to $1000.

In addition to this, there are a couple of local incentives for collecting rainwater, although not all of them are still active so make sure to ask the local authorities.

Collecting rainwater in Arkansas

Collecting rainwater in Arkansas is legal, although the rainwater harvesting system has to be approved by the local Board of Health. In addition to this, the rainwater collection system has to comply with the Arkansas plumbing code. Arkansas does have a restriction when it comes to collecting rainwater, as it has to be used for “non-potable” purposes. Non-potable simply means that you can not use the collected rainwater for drinking or cooking which begs the question of why does it have to be approved by the local Board of Health then?

Collecting rainwater in California

Collecting rainwater in California is legal, according to Assembly Bill 1750. The Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 allows homeowners to collect rainwater without any restrictions and regulations although mostly by using rainwater barrels. Until 2012 collecting rainwater in California was illegal, mostly because this state has a massive problem with fresh water. California has way too many people living in it which puts a massive strain on the local freshwater sources, and things will go from bad to worse in the near future.

Currently, there are no state-wide incentives for collecting rainwater although there are a couple of local incentives.

  • Santa Monica offers a $2000 rebate for water cisterns, the size of the water cistern has to be greater than 500 gallons. In addition to this, you can get around $5000 tax credit from the Sustainable Landscape.
  • Monterey County offers a rebate for water cisterns, the size of the rebate is directly linked to the size of the water cistern, so the bigger the water cistern is the higher the rebate will be.

Collecting rainwater in Colorado

Collecting rainwater in Colorado is legal, although there are some restrictions and regulations which make collecting rainwater fairly difficult. Collecting rainwater in Colorado was illegal a couple of years ago and a lot of people still think it is. Collecting rainwater in Colorado is legal since 2016 due to the House Bill 16-1005, which allows people to collect rainwater coming from their roof in two water barrels, with a maximum capacity of 110 gallons.

Colorado doesn’t have a state-wide incentive for collecting rainwater although there is at least one local incentive in Greeley County called the Greeley Rebates, although it is mostly for collecting rainwater for irrigation purposes.

Collecting rainwater in Connecticut

Collecting rainwater in Connecticut is legal, and there are no restrictions or regulations. Connecticut does encourage its citizens to collect rainwater, they have even published a step by step guide on their official website on how to collect rainwater. Currently, there are no statewide or local incentives in Connecticut for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Delaware

Collecting rainwater in Delaware is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Delaware is one of the few states which actually encourages people to collect rainwater, they have even made a rainwater painting contest in order to encourage collecting rainwater. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in Delaware for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Florida

Collecting rainwater in Florida is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. There are no statewide incentives or rebates in Florida for collecting rainwater, although there are some local incentives like in Manatee County called the Rain Barrel Program.

Collecting rainwater in Georgia

Collecting rainwater in Georgia is legal, there are no restrictions but there are a couple of regulations according to the Department of Natural Resources in the Environmental Protection Division. The rainwater harvesting system must abide by the local plumbing code, and you are not allowed to use the harvested rainwater for drinking or cooking, so you will mostly have to use it outdoors for watering crops.

Collecting rainwater in Hawaii

Collecting rainwater is legal in Hawaii, there are no restrictions or regulations. Hawaii is one of the few states that encourage the collecting of rainwater, mostly because this state doesn’t have a problem with freshwater due to plenty of yearly rainfall. Currently, there are no statewide incentives for collecting rainwater but there are some local incentives like the Honolulu Board of Water Supply which includes the  Weather-Based Irrigation Controller Rebate ( up to $1000 ), Residential Clothes Washer Rebate ( up to $75 ), and the Residential Rain Barrel Rebate ( Up to $40 ).

Collecting rainwater in Idaho

Collecting rainwater in Idaho is legal, the only restriction that this state has is that you can not collect rainwater that has already entered natural waterways. Basically, as long as you are collecting rainwater from your roof then you should be fine. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in Idaho for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Illinois

Harvesting rainwater in Illinois is legal although highly regulated mostly by the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act. The problem with this act is that it mostly refers to green infrastructure and to solar panels, and not exactly to rainwater harvesting. You will have to ask your local authorities, maybe they can clarify it for you, in terms of what you need to do to be able to collect rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Indiana

Collecting rainwater in Indiana is legal, and there are no restrictions or regulations. The state actively encourages collecting rainwater, although it doesn’t offer any incentives or rebates. You might find some local incentives for harvesting rainwater as there were several of them a couple of years ago, but for that, you have to ask your local authorities.

Collecting rainwater in Iowa

Collecting rainwater in Iowa is legal, currently, there are no restrictions or regulations. The Iowa Stormwater Management Manual, provides residents with design standards and with a stormwater management plan. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives and rebates for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Kansas

Collecting rainwater in Kansas is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. With that being said you will need a permit from the Department of Agriculture if you are using the collected rainwater to water your crops. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Kansas.

Collecting rainwater in Kentucky

Collecting rainwater in Kentucky is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. You can use the collected rainwater in any way you want and store as much as you can. Kentucky doesn’t have a problem with fresh water and it gets plenty of rainfall every year. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in Kentucky for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Louisiana

Collecting rainwater in Louisiana is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Louisiana actually encourages collecting rainwater, although there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Maine

Collecting rainwater in Maine is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Maine gets around 40 inches of rainfall every year and this state doesn’t have a problem with the lack of fresh water. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Maryland

Harvesting rainwater in Maryland is legal, there are no restrictions and regulations. Maryland gets around 59 inches of rainfall every year, and this state doesn’t have a problem with freshwater. Currently, there are no state wide incentives for harvesting rainwater, although there are some local incentives like in Howard County within its Rain Management Technique program and in Hyattsville with the Rebate program offers stormwater management incentives.

Collecting rainwater in Massachusetts

Harvesting rainwater in Massachusetts is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Massachusetts gets around 43 inches of rainfall every year and the state doesn’t have any problem with fresh water, this is why the state encourages the local population to harvest rainwater for which they even put up a guide Rain Barrels and Other Water Conservation Tools. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Michigan

Collecting rainwater in Michigan is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Michigan gets around 34 inches of rainfall every year, although it might not seem a lot, but this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. The state of Michigan encourages the harvesting of rainwater, although currently there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Minnesota

Collecting rainwater in Minnesota is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Minnesota gets between 18-36 inches of yearly rainfall, and this state doesn’t have a problem with freshwater. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives in Minnesota for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Mississippi

Collecting rainwater in Mississippi is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Mississippi gets around 56 inches of rainfall per year, and there are no issues with fresh water in this state. The local authorities encourage the harvesting of rainwater although there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Missouri

Collecting rainwater in Missouri is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Missouri gets around 41 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. The state encourages the harvesting of rainwater, although currently there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Montana

Collecting rainwater in Montana is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Montana gets between 10-30 inches of rainfall per year, although that doesn’t seem like much but this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Montana encourages the harvesting of rainwater, although currently there are no local or statewide incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Nebraska

Collecting rainwater in Nebraska is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Nebraska gets around 27 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Nebraska encourages the harvesting of rainwater although currently there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Nevada

Collecting rainwater in Nevada is legal and it is considered to be part of the water rights. Water rights and collecting rainwater are different things, but collecting rainwater is considered a water right in this state, which means that there are certain regulations and restrictions. Nevada is one of the driest states in the country, and it only has an average yearly rainfall of around 10 inches. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in Nevada for harvesting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in New Hampshire

Collecting rainwater in New Hampshire is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. New Hampshire gets around 46 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. New Hampshire encourages the harvesting of rainwater, although currently there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in New Jersey

Collecting rainwater in New Jersey is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. New Jersey gets around 46 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. New Jersey encourages the harvesting of rainwater with the New Jersey Rain Garden Rebate Program, and they will also guide you on what you can do to make the harvesting of rainwater more efficient.

Collecting rainwater in New Mexico

Collecting rainwater in New Mexico is legal, there are no restrictions, although in some counties you will need a permit to harvest rainwater. New Mexico gets around 14 inches of rainfall per year, although it is a fairly dry state, but at the moment there are no major issues with fresh water. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives for collecting rainwater in New Mexico.

Collecting rainwater in New York

Collecting rainwater in New York is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. The average yearly rainfall in New York is around 47 inches and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in New York for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in North Carolina

Collecting rainwater in North Carolina is legal, there are no restrictions but there are some regulations. North Carolina gets around 45 inches of rainfall every year, and this state doesn’t have a problem with freshwater. North Carolina has a statewide incentive for harvesting rainwater called the CCAP, some counties also offer local incentives.

Collecting rainwater in North Dakota

Collecting rainwater in North Dakota is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. North Dakota gets between 13-20 inches of rainfall, and at the moment this state doesn’t have a massive problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in North Dakota for collecting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Ohio

Collecting rainwater in Ohio is legal, there are no restrictions but the Ohio Department of Health regulates it. This basically means that you may need a permit to harvest rainwater, although you can harvest rainwater for drinking and cooking as well. Ohio gets around 38 inches of rainfall per year, and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Ohio.

Collecting rainwater in Oklahoma

Collecting rainwater in Oklahoma is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Oklahoma gets between 17-56 inches of rainfall per year and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. The state of Oklahoma does encourage harvesting rainwater although currently there are no state-wide or local incentives for it.

Collecting rainwater in Oregon

Collecting rainwater in Oregon is legal, although there is one restriction which is that you are only allowed to collect rainwater from the surface of your roof. With that being said if you do have an alternative way of collecting rainwater on your property then you have to ask the local authorities and for the most part, they will give you permission to use it. Currently, there are no state-wide incentives for harvesting rainwater but there are some local ones like the Portland Clean River Rewards, and the Portland Downspout Disconnect Program.

Collecting rainwater in Pennsylvania

Collecting rainwater in Pennsylvania is legal, there are no regulations or restrictions. Pennsylvania gets around 42 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state-wide incentives for collecting rainwater in Pennsylvania but there are some local incentives like the Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP).

Collecting rainwater in Rhode Island

Collecting rainwater in Rhode Island is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Rhode Island is one of the few states that have a statewide incentive for harvesting rainwater which is a tax credit for the rainwater harvesting system of around 10%. In addition to this, there are a couple of local incentives as well for harvesting rainwater in Rhode Island.

Collecting rainwater in South Carolina

Collecting rainwater in South Carolina is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. South Carolina gets between 40-80 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have any problems with fresh water. Although South Carolina does encourage harvesting rainwater but currently there are no state-wide or local incentives for doing it.

Collecting rainwater in South Dakota

Collecting rainwater in South Dakota is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. South Dakota gets between 15-28 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in South Dakota.

Collecting rainwater in Tennessee

Collecting rainwater in Tennessee is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Tennessee gets around 52 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Tennessee.

Collecting rainwater in Texas

Collecting rainwater in Texas is legal, although there are some restrictions and regulations like the rainwater harvesting system has to be incorporated in the building and you will have to notify the local authorities if you set up a rainwater harvesting system. Texas gets between 12-48 inches of rainfall per year, generally speaking, for the most part, this state doesn’t have any major issues with fresh water. In addition to this, there are a couple of state wide and local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Texas.

Collecting rainwater in Utah

Collecting rainwater in Utah is legal, although it is regulated and they do have some restrictions. You have to register with the Division of Water Resources, and you will be able to harvest and store 2500 gallons of rainwater. On the other hand, if you do not register with the Division of Water Resources you are allowed to store only 100 gallons of rainwater. Currently, there are no state-wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Utah.

Collecting rainwater in Vermont

Collecting rainwater in Vermont is legal, and there are no restrictions or regulations. Vermont gets around 43 inches of rainfall every year and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Vermont.

Collecting rainwater in Virginia

Collecting rainwater in Virginia is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Virginia is one of the few states which do offer a state-wide incentive for rainwater harvesting called the Alternative Water Supply Assistance. Virginia gets around 43 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water.

Collecting rainwater in Washington

Collecting rainwater in Washington is legal and there are no restrictions or regulations. Washington gets around 73 inches of yearly rainfall and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. You do not need a permit to harvest rainwater from the rooftop, and currently, there are no local or state wide incentives for doing so.

Collecting rainwater in West Virginia

Collecting rainwater in West Virginia is legal, and there are no restrictions or regulations. West Virginia gets around 43 inches of yearly rainfall and there are no problems with fresh water in this state. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in West Virginia.

Collecting rainwater in Wisconsin

Collecting rainwater in Wisconsin is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Wisconsin gets around 31 inches of rainfall per year and this state doesn’t have a problem with fresh water. Currently, there are no state wide or local incentives in Wisconsin for harvesting rainwater.

Collecting rainwater in Wyoming

Collecting rainwater in Wyoming is legal, there are no restrictions or regulations. Wyoming gets around 13 inches of yearly rainfall which is not a lot but currently there are no major problems regarding fresh water in this state. Currently, there are no statewide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater in Wyoming.

In conclusion

As you can see it is legal to harvest rainwater in all states, however, some of them do have regulations and restrictions. As laws tend to often change, you should ask your local authorities, if there are any new restrictions or regulations, or if there are any state-wide or local incentives for harvesting rainwater.