Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater in California? [2023]

Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater in California?

 Rainwater collection, also known as rainwater harvesting, involves capturing and storing rainwater for various purposes. 

It’s a centuries-old practice that has recently attracted increased interest because of its beneficial effects on the environment. With that said, let’s go on a journey towards a more sustainable future.

Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater in California

No, collecting rainwater isn’t illegal in California. Only two of the lower 48 US states—Colorado and Utah—have limitations in place regarding rainwater collection. But in California, state and local governments strongly advocate rainwater collection as a means of water conservation. In spite of the fact that rainwater collecting has been practiced for some time in other nations, it is still a relatively new idea in the US, and as a result, the regulations are just now catching up.

In California, only if you are interested in using the rainwater you gather to build a water source like a pool, spa, or fountain would you require a permit for rainwater collecting – aside from that rainwater collection is legal.

California Rainwater Capture Act

In California, rainwater collection is now permitted as long as you follow the rules set forth by the State Water Resources Board thanks to the 2012 passage of the Rainwater Capture Act. Rain collection from your roof is acceptable and even encouraged.

Additionally, under certain conditions, the law permits owners of residential, commercial, and governmental properties to set up, manage, and run rainwater collection and storage systems for a variety of designated uses.

Can you Keep Rainwater in California?

Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater in California?

You can definitely keep rainwater in California for non-potable purposes like watering your garden or landscaping. The state recognizes the importance of water conservation and has implemented measures to promote sustainable practices, including rainwater harvesting.

For personal or small-scale residential use, you generally won’t face significant legal restrictions. Promoting water efficiency and reducing dependency on conventional water sources are some of the major objectives. So, if you want to collect rainwater to help conserve water and be more environmentally friendly, you’re on the right track!

How Does LA Collect Rainwater?

One common approach used in LA is the use of rain barrels, which are often seen in residential areas. For larger-scale rainwater collection, LA utilizes cisterns and tanks. These devices have a sizable capacity for rainwater storage. Another strategy employed in LA is the use of permeable surfaces.

These surfaces allow rainwater to infiltrate the ground rather than running off. Furthermore, LA has implemented stormwater capture and recharge programs. These initiatives involve diverting and collecting stormwater from streets and other surfaces

Is There a Water Law in California?

Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater in California?

California has a well-established system of water laws to manage and regulate the state’s water resources. The primary legislation governing water in California is the California Water Code. Another significant law that has garnered attention in recent years is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Passed in 2014, SGMA focuses on the long-term sustainability of groundwater resources. Under SGMA, local agencies are required to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans to manage and regulate groundwater basins throughout the state.


To sum it up, rainwater collection in California is generally permitted for non-potable uses. While California has had strict water laws in the past due to water scarcity issues, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of water conservation through rainwater collection. Furthermore, California has adopted laws and regulations to promote water conservation and efficiency, such as restrictions on water use during drought periods which is very commendable.

JD Lipton