Stand Alone Rainwater Harvesting System
Rainwater Harvesting is not Illegal
by RainSaucers Inc. on February 25th, 2013

One urban myth that seems to persist is that rainwater harvesting (RWH) is illegal when that is absolutely not the case. First of all, to say it is illegal implies a federal ban, which does not exist.  Water supply is regulated by individual States. Yet there is no State that has an outright prohibition. In fact, the majority of States are completely silent on the matter which means individuals are free to do as they please.  Meanwhile, of the 12 States that do have laws, none of them prohibit the practice, only regulate it. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

Some worry that regulation means severe restriction. But that is not the case either. For some states, it can mean the reverse. In other words, the State is promoting the practice.  Texas, for example, offers a sales tax exemption on the purchase of rainwater harvesting equipment. Meanwhile Oklahoma recently passed the "Water for 2060 Act" which initiates grants for  information campaigns on capturing and using harvested rainwater. Even in Colorado where RWH actually was illegal until 2009,  residential property owners are now allowed to collect rainwater.  Colorado recently authorized 10 pilot projects where captured precipitation was used in new real estate developments for non-potable uses. 

Much of the blame for the persistent myth that rainwater harvesting is illegal comes from media overexposure.  For example, headlines were made in August of 2012 when an Oregon man was jailed for having three private reservoirs without a permit. But does the requiring of a permit make something illegal?  As long as the issuing of permits is actually occurring and does not appear to be arbitrary, I would call that a bureaucracy rather than a prohibition. Ironically, Oregon is fairly progressive on the residential RWH front. Oregon Building Codes allow for the creation of  both potable and non-potable RWH systems.  Portland, Oregon meanwhile is a hot bed of rain barrel activity. Just ask our reseller partner the Rain Barrel Man who has been successfully marketing cedar clad rain barrels since 1998.

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