Is Collecting Rainwater Illegal?
Collecting precipitation from your gutters, also known as rainwater harvesting, can be a convenient way to gather and conserve water. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself: Is it illegal to collect rainwater? If you live in Texas, you might be surprised by the answer.
The legality of collecting rainwater in Texas depends on the county you live in.
According to the National Conference of West Legislatures, Texas and Ohion are among the states who are paying close attention to the issue of collecting rainwater and the rights to water. Texas has many laws in place for regulating the practice of harvesting rainwater. It is up to each county how it is dealt with. You can read more about the act here.
Some states restrict this harvesting by, for example, not allowing the drinking or distribution of rainwater. Additionally, some states regulate collection systems. If rainwater is held in certain plastic containers, unsafe chemicals can get into the water and later seep into the ground.
However, many states not only allow rainwater harvesting, but encourage it.
For instance, Texas lets people buy rain harvesting equipment free of sales tax, and it’s against the law for homeowners’ associations there to prohibit rainwater collection. A few states in the western U.S. have traditionally outlawed rain harvesting altogether. The reasoning is that rainwater eventually makes its way into streams, rivers, and other water sources to which various individuals possess legal claims. In many cases, those claims go back generations.
Prospectors originated the idea that landowners can’t do what they want with the water on their premises. When miners dug canals during the 1800s, they were entitled to all of the water ― and gold particles ― that flowed through them.
What is Rainwater Harvesting?
Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater through a harvesting or collection system, which can involved barrels, buckets, or other containers to hold the water.
Dating back to ancient Rome, the idea of collecting rainwater began when wealthier households were designed with atriums that had shallow pools built into the floor. The pools were meant to collect rainwater to help fill the city’s water supply. Since then, there have been many adaptations on how to harvest rainwater all over the world.
In the United States, rainwater is usually harvested from building roofs and stored in tanks designed for holding all the water. You will usually find rainwater harvesting in states that don’t receive a lot of rainfall annually or that are in a state of drought. Having a rainwater harvesting system in place helps to supplement the water use throughout the dryer seasons of the year.
A Rain Harvesting Primer
Collecting rainwater can be as simple as routing a gutter into an empty barrel. For a more effective technique, you can install a more complex rain harvesting system. With a system like this, water trickles down gutters and enters a filter that takes out leaves, dirt, and other unwanted materials.
The water then goes into a tank with a filter of its own to be further cleaned. Afterwards, it’s ready whenever someone wants to wash a car or handle another H2O-related task. And some rain harvesting tanks are connected to sprinklers or hoses, making water usage even easier.
Benefits of Harvesting Rainwater
Collecting rainwater can help conserve resources and can keep costs down. There are many benefits to consider when catching rainwater.
- Reduces stormwater runoff
- Uses simple and inexpensive ways to conserve water
- Good to use for gardening or watering lawn
- Less costs on resources
- Backup source for water emergencies
Sustainable Living Through Harvesting Rainwater
Harvesting rainwater has many benefits for homeowners and communities. It’s more eco-friendly and can help the planet. Before you harvest rainwater, contact your state government to find out what restrictions, if any, you face. Most likely, you’ll be good to go right away. Once you start using a rainwater collection system, you’re likely to be happy with that choice because rainwater is soft and generally free of salt and toxins.