Skip to main content

Is it illegal to collect rainwater? What you should know before setting up your rain barrels

Facts to learn about the legality of collecting rainwater

Eco-friendly living is becoming more popular each year, and there are plenty of ways you can help the environment at home. You can compost to reduce food waste or plant trees to absorb carbon. Conserving water is another easy way to be eco-friendly, and one method is to set up a rain barrel. However, some people have been wondering: Is it illegal to collect rainwater? We’ve got everything you need to know to feel confident setting up your rain barrels.

Overflowing rain barrel in a garden

Is it illegal to collect rainwater?

In most cases, no, it is not illegal to collect rainwater. However, there are some places with regulations or limitations. There are no federal laws about collecting rainwater, which means it’s left to each state. Additionally, there may be restrictions at the county or city level, or even from your Homeowner’s Association.

Related Videos

Since the rules and restrictions can come from so many different places, it can be difficult to determine what rules might apply to you. There is some comforting news: There aren’t any states where it is entirely illegal to collect rainwater.

A rain gutter draining into a silver bucket full of water and yellow leaves

How do you know what rules apply?

If you aren’t certain what restrictions may apply to you, reach out to your local government. You should be able to find the information on the official government website, but if you have difficulty finding it then don’t hesitate to call or email them. Your city, county, or state government will be able to provide you with clear answers to help you collect rainwater safely.

A wooden barrel full of water

What regulations are in place?

The strictest regulations are in Colorado, where residents are allowed up to two rain barrels with a combined capacity of 110 gallons. Utah allows rainwater collection up to 2,500 gallons, as long as the collector is registered with the Division of Water Resources. Limits to the use of the water typically include whether or not the rainwater can be used as drinking water. However, cleaning and watering a garden are generally not regulated.

Collection method regulations come in a few forms. Some states and HOAs may require a professional system rather than a homemade one. Others specify that rainwater can only be collected before it enters a waterway. Oregon only allows rooftop collection methods, so a standard system of rain gutters draining into a rain barrel is legal, but a free standing tank would not be.

A rain barrel next to purple flowers

Are there any incentives to collect rainwater?

In addition to the ecological benefits, some states offer grants, tax credit, or other incentives to collect rainwater. Many states encourage rainwater collecting, and some even offer assistance in setting up a system. Contacting your local government to see what’s available is certainly worth it!

Overall, collecting rainwater is legal and helpful for the environment, but you may want to contact your local government for details. There may be some additional regulations, or even beneficial incentives. Wanting to protect the environment is admirable, and now you know how to do it correctly!

Editors' Recommendations

What is coconut soil, and how can it make your garden better?
Learn about coconut soil, a sustainable must for your hydroponic system
Person with small plant in hands

Coconut soil, or coco soil, as it's often called, hasn't been around for very long, but its history goes back only a few decades. In a relatively short amount of time, it's gone from a niche product to a popular trend among gardeners who need a highly efficient growing medium.

There are myriad benefits waiting for the gardener who chooses to use coconut soil. One of the most attractive benefits is that coco soil and coco coir are considered to be entirely renewable and sustainable.

Read more
Gardening 101: The difference between blood meal vs. bonemeal
When to use and how to apply blood meal and bonemeal
Bonemeal or blood meal

It might sound like blood meal and bonemeal are ingredients a witch would use to make a potion for someone they don't like, but they're actually fantastic tools for gardeners. If you're looking for more assets you can use in the garden, read on to find out how the use of both blood meal and bonemeal might help you grow bigger, healthier, and more productive plants in an all-natural and organic way.

blood meal vs. bonemeal - the difference
Blood meal is dried and powdered animal blood and bonemeal is ground animal bones. Both are great options for adding nutrients back into the soil, and they're both considered all-natural and organic. However, they obviously contain animal products, so if you're not okay with that, these are options you'll want to pass on. If you are okay with that, the good news is these are recycled products used from slaughterhouses. Not only are you introducing organic materials into your garden and avoiding potentially harmful chemicals, but you're also helping reduce the amount of waste slaughterhouses create.

Read more
Gardening 101: Making sure your seedlings grow into healthy plants
Rows of plant seedlings in wooden box garden

Gardening is a relaxing hobby and a great way to brighten your yard. If you aren't sure how often to water seedlings or when you should transplant them, then these questions can take some of the relaxation out of gardening. There are a few ways to grow plants, from sowing the seeds directly in your garden to buying an already-mature plant. Arguably the most popular way, though, is to start your seeds indoors.

The beginning is easy, but what happens when they start sprouting? Whether you’re just starting your garden or trying out a new way of gardening, here is everything you need to know about taking care of seedlings.

Read more