Recently I posted a link to an article about a guy who was being prosecuted for catching rain water. Several of you emailed asking about the legalities involved, and were wondering about catching rain in general.
I’ve written about the practical aspects of collecting rain water earlier, so I want to talk a bit about the legalities involved.
The bottom line is that there’s a TON of gray area here, and you won’t know for sure unless you research your specific state, and even county or city.
The thing that bugs the heck out of me is that there’s all these stories out there, and rumors floating around, that aren’t really based on truth. For example, there’s a story that’s been posted all over the place for the last several years. It claims “many Western states, including Utah, Washington and Colorado, have long outlawed individuals from collecting rainwater on their own properties”
Except it’s not completely true.
I know for a fact that Washington State doesn’t outlaw it. I live here. It’s perfectly legal and has been for several years. A quick check on the State’s website confirms that.
Colorado allows you to collect rainwater if you’re served by a well, and they’re planning on expanding that.
For Utah, it’s legal to collect rainwater, though they limit the size of the storage containers that you can have.
Now this wasn’t necessarily the case when the original article was written, but since then things have changed and the article has been reposted, copied, and cited as gospel all over the place. And if you didn’t do your own homework, you wouldn’t know for sure if it was legal or not.
So the long story short … look yourself to see if it’s legal or not. Start with your State website and go from there.
What if it IS illegal?
That’s up to you. You may be able to do it anyways and not get caught ever, or maybe you get busted by an annoyed neighbor. It’s up to you.
But in some parts of the country we have a rule affectionately called the “Three S Rule” … Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up.
Generally referenced if you have to shoot some sort of predator and want to avoid any interactions with the Fish and Game folks, but I could see a similar rule for a rain catchment system. And that’s about all I have to say about that.