Is Collecting Rainwater Illegal in Ohio?
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
You can collect rainwater in Ohio legally, according to Ohio criminal laws, even if this rainwater harvesting is going to be used for drinking water. Rainwater collecting has been an odd source of debate for years. There are a couple of reasons that states typically give to limit the collection of rainwater. In some areas, doing this can not only be illegal but also a health risk. The fact that rainwater that gets collected can become a health risk is one of the reasons why it's prohibited.
Why is Rainwater Collection Illegal in Some Areas?
Collecting rain has a weird history in regard to whether it is legal or not. Back in the 1800s, many area governments were trying to prevent messing up the natural flow of water. In very dry areas of the country, for instance, rainwater was the only source for water for non-potable, such as watering crops, and potable purposes. These regulations remained in place for many years without too much alteration. When the main water supply started changing for these areas, people stopped needing to collect rainwater. However, if a person wants to collect rainwater in some areas of the country, they could still be in some trouble if some of these older regulations are still in place.
Is Rainwater Harvesting Completely Illegal In Any State?
At this point, no state completely outlaws rainwater harvesting. Granted, there are some states where rainwater collection is limited. In other states, you can get a tax break if you set up an effective rainwater harvesting system to collect water. As you can see, the legality of harvesting is all over the map at this point. Many of the states that still hold restrictions on rainwater harvesting are the states that rely on these same practices to provide proper water supply to all homes.
Does It Make Sense To Do Rainwater Harvesting?
If you are going through the trouble of figuring out whether or not rainwater harvesting is legal and what the regulations are in your area, it may also be a good idea to ask the next question. Is rainwater harvesting worth it? In actuality, it depends on your local regulations and your current water supply. A lot of people are becoming rainwater collectors as a way to help out the environment. While it may be a noble cause, collecting 110 gallons can bring you more trouble than it's worth in some areas. While in others, you can even collect up to 2,500 gallons of rain water for potable purposes and be ok.
What Are The Consequences of Being Caught Doing "Illegal" Rainwater Harvesting?
If you are doing rainwater harvesting and you have a couple of rain barrels, there is probably not much that you need to worry about. A couple of years back, a story ran about a man going to jail for doing excessive amounts of rainwater harvesting to the point where he was able to fill his own fishing lakes. The story is not all that accurate. Many regulations though, are meant to make sure large amounts of water to fewer people ratios are not common. These regulations don't mean jail time for rainwater harvesting, though, so people don't have to read up on water rights or remove rain barrels just yet.
Is Rainwater Harvesting An Issue Or Not?
As long as you are clear on the regulations surrounding rainwater harvesting and your "water rights," you are going to be ok. With states like California running out of water, it would not be a surprise to see more legislation passing to regulate rainwater harvesting. By most accounts, though, the idea would be to promote rainwater harvesting more so than limit its practice. It may be a good idea to get your rain barrel out and start rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting could be the only effective way to get water pretty soon, and in many areas, including the Buckeye State, it can even help save on water bills.
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Disclaimer: The details included in this blog is offered for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as lawful guidance in any way. No recipients of material from this blog, clients or otherwise, should or should not act on the basis of any material consisted in the blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional guidance on the particular facts and situations at issue from an attorney accredited in the recipient's state.