So, Is It Illegal To Collect Rainwater in Alabama?

If you want to be truly ready for a grid-down situation or major disaster, one of the best things you can do for your overall state of readiness is to collect rainwater.

flag of Alabama
flag of Alabama

Not only can a rainwater collection system store dozens or hundreds of gallons of water, perhaps more, but it can also collect that much water in a very short period of time with nothing more than a good passing shower or thunderstorm.

It’s an ancient technique, but if you can believe it, some states actually regulate, even ban, citizens from doing it. Not cool!

How about Alabama? Does Alabama make it illegal to collect rainwater?

No, collecting rainwater is not illegal in Alabama. The state has basically no specific regulations on the practice, but you’ll still have to abide by applicable local and state laws concerning collection and use of the water.

This is great news for people who live in Alabama because the state gets plenty of rain, more than enough to make installing a raincatcher a worthy endeavor.

But, there are some other considerations you’ll want to keep in mind before you purchase and install your system. Keep reading and I will tell you what they are…

Collecting rainwater illegal? | Laws in all 50 States

Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in Alabama?

No. Collecting rainwater is not illegal in Alabama. Alabama is one state that has essentially no laws or other regulations concerning the practice, or more specifically no laws and regs at the state level.

Now, this doesn’t mean there are no laws affecting the installation of your system or what you can do with the water you’ve collected.

There might be, but in general you are only looking out for things like building, plumbing and health codes that might apply at the state level. That’s it.

Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?

No, there is no County in Alabama that I was able to find during my research that expressly forbids citizens from collecting rainwater.

That being said, it is entirely possible, even likely, that some municipalities and cities may institute their own guidelines or laws that could affect your installation, use, or even the design process of your system.

For instance, zoning laws will probably come into play if you want to install massive tanks or large, standalone collection services.

Your city might force you to get a permit before you begin building or installing, and then get an inspection done before they sign off on it and allow you to use it.

Your town might even have an ordinance that could prevent you from dumping or discharging excess water!

Those are just examples, but they are all real ones from various places around the country. Just because Alabama is wild and free concerning rain collection systems at the state level, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any rules to follow at the local level.

Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Alabama?

Alabama law allows citizens to collect rainwater pretty much whenever they want. There aren’t any laws concerning times or seasons, or anything like that.

But, once again, your local and municipal laws might have some say so over exactly when you can collect rainwater, or more accurately when you cannot.

Something else to keep in mind is that you can generally only collect rainwater when it doesn’t violate any other state or local laws. Where this specifically makes a difference is in regards to the water rights of other residents.

Not something that is likely to come up, but however it does, and whatever happens, if it can be proven that your collection of rainwater interferes with someone else’s lawful, legal right to a water source they have a claim to, it is possible the local or state authorities could force you to stop.

Again, this is only likely if you have a system that is truly huge, or if you are somehow gathering so much water it depletes a pond or stream that someone else normally uses for their water.

Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in Alabama?

No. No state laws, and the only ones that you would have to worry about would be local laws. I’ll make a bet right now that they are quite rare if they exist at all…

But, another potentiality is the potential of a stoppage or restriction on the harvesting of rainwater in times of drought, during wildfire threats or other emergency situations where all possible groundwater sources need to be recharged.

These orders will be issued by local or state authorities when and as needed, so you’ll just have to listen for them.

What Does Alabama Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?

Nominally, Alabama law allows citizens to use rainwater for whatever they want. Practically, in most places, you’ll only be able to use it legally for non-potable purposes like irrigation of crops and gardens, washing vehicles and other equipment, flushing fixtures and so forth.

This is because even though there is no explicit law forbidding the use of rainwater as drinking water, you will find that it’s easy to run into local health codes on the matter.

It might be entirely possible to use your rainwater as drinking water, but health codes could require you to filter and purify it appropriately before doing so.

In no case can businesses or individuals use rainwater as public potable water without proving that it has been adequately purified, and maybe not even then.

And, a quick aside surely for practical purposes, your rainwater is not as clean as you think.

Rainwater that cascades off your roof, through your gutters and into your tanks is going to be full of all sorts of dust, dirt, shingle debris, heavy metals, insects, and animal poop.

Doesn’t sound so refreshing now, does it? If you have any intention of using your rainwater as drinking water, you’ve got to invest in that purification system too.

Does Alabama Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?

No. Alabama law does not specify any particular plumbing code or equipment standard for rainwater collection systems, but local codes are once again likely going to impact your installation and your design choices.

Make sure you check in with all of your relevant local authorities before you commit to a purchase, and review any guidelines or mandates that they give you.

Does Alabama Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?

No. The state of Alabama and many municipalities are enthusiastic and energetic about getting citizens to collect rainwater for the civil good that it does, but there are few if any rebates, tax breaks or other financial incentives to be found.

But as always, do your own due diligence and check in with your town and county officials to see if any rebates exist in your area.

Bottom Line: Is Alabama a Good State for Rainwater Collection?

Yes! Alabama is a roundly excellent state for rainwater collection. This is because the general legal landscape is completely barren of any obtuse or obstructionist laws at the state or local level, even if you might have to obey local building codes and other regulations.

Read also: Rainwater Collection Laws in the US – An Overview

Additionally, Alabama gets plenty of rain every year – it is a pretty wet state! – meaning it’s not hard to justify the expense and installation of your collection system.

Considering how hot Alabama summers get, this makes it a perfect location for catching rain no matter what your purposes are. If you are a prepper or even just a concerned citizen, I can definitely advise you to install your own system if you reside in Alabama.

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