Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater?

Short answer: YES.

Long answer: Depends on what state you live, and depends on the outcome of new bills coming through the U.S. Congress, as they seem to making up new and stupid ones every day….

From what I have ascertained so far, it is illegal to collect rainwater in the following states:

  • Utah
  • Washington State
  • New Mexico
  • Colorado– although I JUST saw a news story published this week that says this has changed. BUT it appears that city dwellers who rely on municipal water cannot collect rainwater.

I also heard that in 1998 the UN past a resolution that all water on the planet is to be commercial, to be bought or sold like, you know, an XBox or something. GRRR. Now I have not confirmed this, but if anyone has any input, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll check it out. Also, there was a “water war” in Bolivia after the country privatized their water resources, and then a company from the U.S. (Bechtel) won a contract for the resources. Immediately, the company had the collection of rainwater outlawed because they wanted a complete monopoly on the resource. People colecting rainwater cut in to their profits.

Now, some of the water laws, especially for the western states, go way back– back to when the area was owned by Spain. Water is a precious resource over there. BUT, this law is being stretched. The laws state that you can’t divert streams or suck lakes dry for your own use. Sure, I understand that– evil people were crooks and stole the water resources. Bad. OK. But some states are suddenly interpreting this to mean that people can’t collect rain in rain barrels?! That’s dumb. The government does NOT own the rain. It’s ridiculous for the government to PRESUME to be able to CONTROL the rain and it’s diversions, as well. If those old water laws are now being interpreted so as to place more restrictions and heavier burdens on citizens, and line the pockets of Big Business and their Government Buddies, that’s tyranny. That’s all there is to it.

You know, we Americans ARE the government. We abide by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Dare I say that we do not have to obey de facto laws and we have the right to redress the government for grievances. These things are really going waaaay too far in this country.

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12 Responses to “Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater?”

  1. feefifoto Says:

    I’ve actually been idly considering picking up a rain barrel to collect rain water, even before I read the NYT’s recent article about the legality or illegality of it. Where I come from it’s not really necessary, although it makes some sense environmentally. I can understand the original intent behind these laws in the dry western states, but my understanding is that for the past century or so, the laws haven’t been enforced in any meaningful way anyway.

  2. Frugal Urbanite Says:

    Wow. I totally understand regulating the size/placement of water storage tanks (so they’re not eyesores or mosquito breeding grounds) but some of those laws are ridiculous.

  3. The BoBo Says:

    Here in Florida our water management department actually gives out rain barrels for free. That’s just plain ridiculous to make rain collection illegal. I don’t see how they can get away with it.

  4. ann Says:

    Just a thought: If the government wants to make it illegal to collect rain water then it should the right of the people to file claims against the government for littering in our yards every time it rains….lol forgive me I’m tired and have weird thoughts today

  5. Storm Says:

    Don’t even get me started…

  6. kruel74 Says:

    I’m from Malaysia which has more weird law but this takes the cake… Sometimes government is really pushing it when it comes to managing resources…

  7. Judi Says:

    I’m with you all all points. Besides if the water belongs to someone else I’m going to charge them for my car washes because their rain made my car dirty. Just as dumb!! I’m a firm believer that anything on my property is mine. I’m not diverting anything to do wrong and if it lands on my property then it’s MINE!!

  8. Aftercancer Says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it if you’re using it for yourself. I think the laws were put in place for people who tried to save rainwater and then charge others.

  9. Chris Says:

    I agree with you completely. If water isn’t free, what is? The whole idea is ridiculous and obviously for monetary gain. We need to reclaim our country!

  10. Bonnie Story Says:

    We had to sneak some graywater features into our new home – and I mean SNEAK. Don’t tell anyone!!! We just think it’s silly to send perfectly reusable bathwater thru our septic system. Is that too much to ask? Here in WA: Yes, it is. Good post, good info. Happy Fourth!! Bonnie

  11. Katherine Says:

    That’s right this is CRAZY! I currently live in Utah and we are still trying to figure this ridiculous ruling out. We had been discussing making a rain barrel for our vegetable garden and then found out it’s not our rain water!
    Great blog!

  12. Rebecca Says:

    Many, many years ago an old man told my dad that the day would come when water would be more precious than oil. I think he knew what he was talking about.