NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As rain approaches this weekend in New Mexico, many residents will be 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 do have restrictions in place, and water laws are primarily handled on the state level. On the contrary, some states even offer incentives if you do collect rainwater.
What Are Rainwater Collection Rules in New Mexico?
In the state of New Mexico, it is perfectly legal and even encouraged to collect rainwater. In Albuquerque, the water authority offers the following rebates based on the amount of rain that can be stored in each rain barrel:
- $25 for 50-149 gallons
- $50 for 150-299 gallons
- $75 for 300-499 gallons
- $100 for 500-999 gallons
- $125 for 1,000-1,499 gallons
- $150 for 1,500+ gallons
Santa Fe also offers rebates for rainwater collection in both small and large quantities. Those rebates are as follows:
- $12 for 50-99 gallons
- $25 for 100-199 gallons
- $50 for 200-499 gallons
- Rain barrels must have an overflow, secure lid, screen, and water access tap to qualify
- Four rain barrels maximum per household are eligible for the rebates
- Cisterns have a rebate value of $0.25 per gallon
Where Are There collection restrictions?
As far as restrictions go, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin all have some level of restriction on rainwater collection. The states of Kansas and North Dakota may require a permit to harvest rainwater. In all states not listed above, it is legal to collect rainwater.
Why Do Some States Restrict Water Collection?
Since water availability varies greatly throughout the United States, each state needs to adjust its water use practices based on its climate. According to the World Water Reserve, 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.