Is rainwater harvesting illegal?
But is collecting rainwater illegal? Please allow me to set the record straight.
First of all, this is another instance where social media has propagated and spread a false rumor. Not only is rainwater harvesting NOT illegal, but it is actually highly encouraged by a vast number of municipalities, regulating agencies, etc. In fact, in our hometown of Columbus, Ohio, the City itself offers major rebates to encourage people to use rainwater collection barrels and tanks to manage their stormwater on-site. Additionally, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Sewer and Water District actually issues grants to businesses and non-profits to incorporate large-scale rainwater collection into their operations. So, again, not only is rain collection not illegal -- it is encouraged!
That is not to say that, historically, there hasn't been truth to this rumor. The rumor started when people began citing a century-old law in Colorado that banned rainwater collection due to water rights issues. However, in recent years, that law has been overturned.
This is also not to say that rainwater harvesting is not regulated. In fact, it is highly regulated -- and, in our opinion, should be! There are countless ways in which harvesting rainwater is dangerous and can potentially threaten public water supply if done carelessly and without regard to law. And there are countless more ways it can be done safely, effectively, and with keen attention to the health of the household and the community.
Lastly, a fun fact: In our home state of Ohio, there are more rainwater cisterns per capita than any other state in the country. Between the firelands of NW Ohio, the Appalachian foothills that blanket our state, and the prevalence of mining, often times rainwater collection is the only viable option for rural households to obtain clean, fresh drinking water. And all of these systems are regulated through the Ohio Health Department (click here to view ODH regulations).