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Why It’s Illegal To Collect Rainwater In Some States, Explained

Source: Wikimedia/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Government overreach and self sufficiency are two conversations that wouldn’t seem like they have anything in common with each other, but they do. Many people are looking for ways to cut their bills across the board, and water is a bill that is becoming increasingly expensive as climate change causes massive swings in weather.

Climate Change Making Food Pricey

Climate change is one of the things making food more expensive, along with inflation. Changing global patterns of heating and cooling are making it increasingly difficult to plant crops and grow them in a predictable manner, creating growing instability in the farming industry.

Source: Pexels/Pixabay

That, combined with increasingly intense and extreme weather events such as floods and earthquakes, are making people consider different ways of getting their food beyond the grocery store. Modern conveniences are nice, but once upon a time, the only way that you could get vegetables and fruits were if you grew or scavenged them yourself.

Looking into Self-Sufficiency

This is a mentality that many have returned to, with the added bonus of documenting their journey on social media. Self sufficiency and homesteading accounts have grown greatly in popularity over the last ten years, with people showing their journey into growing vegetables and providing for the food on their table.

Source: Pinterest

Some people are only looking into backyard gardening, but others are taking their journey further. Keeping animals such as chickens and pigs, and looking into ways to create other necessities in the comfort of their kitchen such as cheese, are just a few of the ways that some people are looking to divorce themselves from relying on modern conveniences – and by extension, the government.

Barriers to Entry

Of course, with everything, there are some unfortunate barriers that come along with trying to be self-sufficient. There are government regulations surrounding everything, from keeping backyard chickens to building different structures on your own property.

Source: Facebook/George fowl farm

Ensuring that you don’t bump up against any regulations in your own area is a headache, and can require a lawyer, in some cases. For instance, in many jurisdictions it’s illegal to buy raw milk in the grocery store due to bacterial risks, and finding a farmer who has a cow that would be willing to sell milk from their cow can be a job of work.

Rainwater Seems Easy…Right?

Still, government regulations aren’t enough to stop many people from trying to divorce from relying on anyone other than themselves. Unfortunately, some methods of seeking self-sufficiency are more difficult than others.

Source: Instagram/livingtinyandgreen

A good example of this is collecting rainwater. While it might seem like a no-brainer to collect the free water that literally falls from the sky, in many jurisdictions the act of collecting rainwater is heavily regulated, or completely illegal.

A Tiktok Account Around Gardening

One woman on Tiktok who posts under the handle @gardengirl1218 has made her entire account about the joys of gardening, and growing your own food. She uses the platform to help educate about growing food, the different methods and challenges, and has garnered nearly 10,000 followers who all want to learn the same thing.

Source: Tiktok/gardengirl1218

She also posted several videos about rainwater, and why governments have so heavily regulated what seems to be an innocent enough act. After all, rain and groundwater were the only methods that people had to water their plants and their houses for many years, so why is it regulated so heavily now?

Water Regulation Due to Drought

The reasoning behind the regulations, if this account is accurate in their speculations, are understandable. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still represent some serious government overreach, but they can be forgiven for that.

Source: Facebook/Docon Engenharia

The theory is that, for many states with water gathering regulations, it’s due to drought. Cities and jurisdictions that see significant drought levels can implement temporary or long-term regulations on gathering rainwater, due to the fact that rainwater is absorbed into the ground and runs off into reservoirs, which gives more wiggle room when it comes to water usage regulations.

Especially Important in the Southwest

This is an especially important consideration in areas like the southwest United States, which is seeing a slow and steady, but undeniable, aridification due to excessive water usage by these states.

Source: AdobeStock/schulzie

Reservoirs in Utah, Colorado, and Nevada like Lake Mead and Lake Powell have seen a steady decline over the last several years, raising concerns over water usage in these areas that are hot, and slowly growing in population. Increased water needs have led to a conversation around water usage on the part of the federal government, who have pushed these states to come up with a better plan for distributing water from these finite resources before the feds have to step in.

Look Into Local Regulations

Regulations do not mean that you’re unable to collect rainwater at all, though. Many states with regulations merely require a permit in order to collect rainwater, with limitations on the size of the collection system that individuals are allowed to install and own.

Source: Instagram/bbennettoutside

This means that, though there might be some barriers to entry, collecting rainwater is still a possibility. The other barrier to entry is cost, given the expense that some of these rainwater collection systems can impose to potential homesteaders.

Methods of Rainwater Collection

Some rainwater collection systems are as simple as a barrel that can be sanitized and placed under a point of collection, such as a gutter where water will run off when it rains. Other systems are more elaborate, and therefore more expensive.

Source: homesteadandchill

Proper rainwater collection systems can cost anywhere from $1000 to $5000, with the average system costing approximately $3000. Barrels are the least expensive method of collecting rainwater, with the obvious con that they’re limited in the amount of water they can hold. Larger systems can hold thousands of gallons of water, though they’re obviously more expensive.

Endless Uses for Rainwater

For those who are able to gather rainwater, the uses can be endless. While it’s true that rainwater is clean, it’s not sanitized to many city standards, meaning that it can’t necessarily be used as drinking water as it falls from the sky.

Source: Shutterstock

That doesn’t mean that it can’t be used in dozens of ways in the garden and household, though. The most obvious use of rainwater is outside, and it’s the first thing that many people think of when they think about rain barrels, using the water to feed a household garden.

Inside the House, Too

There are many other uses though. Rainwater is excellent for maintaining gardens, but it can be used in other outdoor features as well. One woman in Texas has chosen to create a viable water feature with her rainwater, adding plants to her rainwater collection system to create a beautiful natural pond.

Source: Shutterstock

Rainwater can be used in the house as well, though. Non-potable uses of rainwater include toilets and laundry machines, and can be a significant way to reduce the amount of city water the household uses.

Offsetting Use of Natural Resources

Using rainwater for household purposes and garden purposes helps individuals become significantly more divorced from government regulations, as well as assisting in the green energy movement.

Source: Instagram/offthegridguide / Pinterest

Green research has led to the development of more water-efficient appliances like washing machines and toilets, especially since the invention of these machines in the mid-20th century. There is a law of diminishing returns with this type of green energy, though, with efficiency efforts only going so far to reduce human draw on natural resources. Collecting and using rainwater is a good way to offset some of these human needs in another way.

A Necessary Evi

While government regulations can be a pain, it’s important to remember that they’re very often there for a reason. Complaining about them might make you feel better, but at the end of the day, they’re a necessary evil that we have to work around in hundreds of different ways as we navigate our lives.

Source: Instagram/

Finding ways to work with the regulations rather than against them is the only way that many of us will move forward. If you want to collect rainwater, the method and the means are there for the taking. Just make sure you check your local regulations to ensure you’re not stepping on Uncle Sam’s toes, and you’ll be good to go.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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