(KRQE/NEXSTAR) — A widespread soaking is expected in Connecticut Saturday and may leave many residents thinking about collecting rainwater, but is that legal?
The World Water Reserve published a full state-by-state guide to explain which states are and aren’t allowed to harvest rainwater.
While collecting rainwater is not federally illegal, many states have restrictions, and water laws are primarily handled at the state level. Alternatively, some states even offer incentives for those who collect rainwater.
What are rainwater collection rules in Connecticut?
In the state of Connecticut, it is legal to collect rainwater from one’s own property, according to Section 1303 Nonpotable Rainwater Collection and Distribution Systems.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) encourages residents to collect rainwater and provides a guide on rain barrels.
Where are there rainwater collection restrictions?
States that have some level of rainwater collection restrictions include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Kansas and North Dakota may require a permit to harvest rainwater.
In all states not listed above, it is legal to collect rainwater.
The World Water Reserve (WWR) published a full state-by-state guide to explain which states are and aren’t allowed to harvest rainwater. The U.S. Department of Energy also has an interactive Rainwater Harvesting Regulations map to help residents figure out if it’s OK to fill up a barrel or a bucket.
Why do some states restrict water collection?
Since water availability varies greatly throughout the U.S., each state needs to adjust its water use practices based on its climate. According to WWR, most states follow the reasonable use doctrine to determine restricts; the doctrine states that “anyone who has a right to the water can reasonably use it for their own benefit as long as it doesn’t restrict the rights of others to use it as well.”
The main reason some states restrict collection is that too much rainwater harvesting can disrupt the cycle of rainfall seeping back into the earth. It is recommended to check your state’s laws regarding water use for further details.
Why collect rainwater?
As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are many practical uses for rainwater, including watering plants that aren’t intended to be food.
While rainwater can potentially be used for bathing and even drinking, the CDC warns that you should never assume rainwater is safe to consume since it can naturally contain germs and other contaminants.
In general, it’s recommended you don’t use consume it if you have another option.
Nevertheless, the CDC explains there are options to help make rainwater safer, including filtration systems, chemical disinfection and boiling.
Another risk to be aware of when collecting or storing any rainwater is that the container could become a mosquito breeding site. As explained by North Carolina State University, adult female mosquitoes can lay eggs in even small amounts of standing water. Eggs only need about 24-48 hours to hatch.
Steps to prevent this include placing a screen over the water inlet and emptying containers at least every 10 days, the CDC says. NC State University also recommends that those using rainwater harvesting systems (RWH) systems make sure entry points are tightly fitted and/or sealed and even have extra design implements to prevent overflow.