You would think that since rainwater is not a man-made resource, we could use it as we please. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and in some states in America, rainwater harvesting is restricted. There are several environmental and economic benefits to harvesting rainwater. Research suggests that it can cover an estimated 50% of a household’s water usage. Rainwater can be used for systems such as outside taps and toilet flushing. It is also useful for many non-drinking purposes such as gardening, washing clothes, bathing pets, and showering. Rainwater is even more beneficial for gardens, plants, and landscapes because it is free from the chlorination process. All of which significantly reduce water bills. Additionally, rainwater helps to reduce erosion and flooding which is beneficial for the environment. Despite the many advantages of harvesting rainwater, it is still illegal in some states. Keep reading to find out which states allow you to harvest rainwater.

How is Rainwater Harvested?

Rainwater harvesting involves collecting the runoff that flows from structures such as rooftops or drains. The water is collected in a storage vessel such as a barrel or a cistern and used to supply water for households or businesses. Rainwater harvesting is the norm in countries such as Germany and Australia. However, over recent years, the practice has become more popular in the United States as a result of the green building movement.

What is the Purpose of Water Harvesting Regulations?

Regulations for harvesting rainwater have been around for centuries and dates back to the 1800’s. Harvesting rainwater is a double-edged sword because it is both good and bad for the environment. For example, farmers rely heavily on rainwater from rivers, they need it to water their crops and to look after their cattle. Furthermore, there are some areas that frequently experience difficulties with their water supply because of droughts. Therefore, when rainwater is diverted through harvesting, it can become problematic. In order to prevent any issues, some states have put strict regulations in place.

Regulations According to State

As with all regulations, they will differ according to the state. Additionally, you may also find that some cities have their own rainwater regulations; therefore, it is important to check before taking any action.


There are no regulations in place in the state of Alabama as rainwater harvesting is a private property right. In fact, they encourage the collection of rainwater and many organizations have published documents to assist residents with technical guidelines and instructions.


There do not appear to be any regulations regarding the residential collection of rainwater. However, there are regulations in place for commercial collecting.


The state of California experiences severe droughts during the summer months. As a result, there are a lot of strict regulations surrounding rainwater harvesting.


In 2016, Colorado passed new laws for harvesting rainwater. It is allowed for personal use; residents can store a maximum of 2 barrels totaling 110 gallons. Collected rainwater can be used for nondrinking purposes such as flushing toilets and cleaning non-food contact surfaces.


Connecticut is another state that encourages rainwater harvesting for environmental protection and energy conservation.


The state of Florida is greatly in favor of water harvesting. They provide residents with rebate programs and tax incentives for rainwater collection. There are no regulations in place.


It is not illegal to harvest rainwater in Georgia; however, there are a lot of regulations surrounding the practice. As long as rainwater is for outdoor use only, it’s legal.


There are no restrictions on rainwater harvesting in the state of Hawaii, it is very much encouraged, and all aspects of the practice are overseen by the Department of Health and Safety.


There are a lot of rainwater harvesting regulations in Illinois. In the majority of circumstances, you won’t need a permit. However, it is best that you contact your local authorities to get more detailed information about their regulations.

North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the few states that promote water harvesting, and their regulations are a reflection of this. The state has made several grants available to ensure that residents make full use of water harvesting.


Similar to North Carolina, the regulations in Ohio promote water harvesting, and grants have been established to help residents set up their own systems.


Oklahoma has a vested interest in water harvesting. The state set up a committee to investigate additional strategies for effective practices. There are some water harvesting practices that might be eligible for a grant.


To collect large amounts of rainwater in the state of Oregon, you will need a water harvesting permit. However, the states regulations also allow the collection of rainwater from parking lots and rooftops.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island residents are encouraged to harvest rainwater by offering them a 10% tax credit on their rainwater collection systems. When homeowners install a cistern onto their property or replace an old one with a larger one, they are rewarded with a credit of up to $1000.


Rainwater harvesting is encouraged for Texas residents. The only regulations are for rainwater harvesting safety standards.


There are several regulations for rainwater collection in Utah. Namely, you can not store more than 2,500 gallons and you can only use it on the land that it was collected. Additionally, your system must be registered if you are planning on harvesting more than 100 gallons of rainwater for personal use.


Rainwater collection is encouraged in the state of Virginia. However, there are regulations concerning its safety.


There is a limited regulation for rainwater collection in Washington. Nevertheless, residents are not prohibited from collecting rainwater for personal use.

Final Thought

The regulations surrounding rainwater harvesting are constantly changing; therefore, it’s important that you do your own research before installing a rainwater collection system because many people have been arrested or fined for violations.

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