No matter where you live and what sort of bad situation you’re preparing for, you can never have enough water.
Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster or unrest that results in your usual supply going offline or becoming contaminated, having tons of water on hand, and the ability to replenish it, is priceless.
That’s where rain catching systems come in. Simple, elegant and highly effective…
But did you know that some states actually restrict or even outlaw the use of this ancient technology by citizens? How about Kansas? Is it illegal to collect rainwater in Kansas?
No, it is not illegal to collect rainwater in Kansas and there are hardly any regulations related to the topic in general. However, water rights are serious business in the state, and your collection of rainwater cannot interfere with someone else’s water rights.
Overall, there is nothing standing in your way in the state of Kansas if you want to install and utilize harvested rainwater for any purpose. Outside of local laws and codes, pretty much anything goes.
And though it is unlikely, you must still be sure that your collection and use of rainwater will not interfere with someone else’s water rights, especially if they had theirs before you got yours.
It isn’t too complicated, and I’ve got a lot more to say on the matter. Keep reading…
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in Kansas?
No, it is not illegal to collect rainwater in Kansas according to state laws. Kansas is pretty good about encouraging citizens to collect rainwater as an eco-friendly way of conserving water and mitigating storm wash of contaminants, even though the state is very “water rich” already.
The state has no specific regulations for or against collecting rainwater, but it’s crucial to remember that your collection and use of rainwater must not interfere with someone else’s water rights.
Kansas is really serious about its citizens’ water rights! Violating this law could lead to serious legal consequences, even a stint in jail, so it’s important to make sure you’re collection effort is not interfering with anyone’s water rights in any way. We’ll talk more on that in just a second.
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?
No, not according to any laws of any county I could find…
But it is entirely possible that some counties, municipalities, or cities may have rules and guidelines that are more stringent than the state’s (nonexistent) ones. Be sure to check with your local authority for these.
And another reminder: Even if there are no local laws or regulations in place, make double-sure that your collection does not interfere with others’ water rights.
Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Kansas?
In Kansas, according to state law, citizens can collect rainwater any time and in any quantity they want.
But there is an overarching law that takes precedence here: Your collection and use of rainwater, however innocent, must never interfere with someone else’s water rights.
As I alluded to above, Kansas treats water rights as real serious business, and the subject can be a bit murky if you live in a place without such stringent water-use laws, so let’s break it down really quick.
Kansas water rights laws follow the “prior appropriation doctrine,” meaning that the first person to appropriate water from any source has a right superior to those who come later.
Moreover, the state also recognizes that some sources are over-appropriated, meaning that there are more water rights issued than there is practical water supply available.
When this occurs, the state practices prorationing, where the state reduces the amount of water allocated to each water right holder during a time of water shortage, starting at the newest “youngest” rights holder.
Where does rainwater collection fit into this? Kansas residents do have a right to collect the water that falls on their property, but their collecting of the rain cannot impact the water use rights of any other property, not just their neighbors. There have been conflicts over water rights concerning rainwater collection.
For instance, if a person’s collection system “takes” too much rainwater that would recharge the aquifer serving his neighbor’s rights, causing his well to go dry let’s say, the affected neighbor will have a legal cause for action against the person catching the rain if they don’t cease and desist. That’s a simplification, naturally, but you get the idea.
Moreover, in areas where any source is over-appropriated, any rainwater collected from tributaries upstream or serving the first point of diversion is subject to the same appropriation rules.
Hence, if you store enough water to impact the flow downstream in any way, you will need a water right and it will be subordinate to all the existing ones in the chain of claim.
So you can collect rainwater to your heart’s content, but you must always need to be aware of how your use might impact others’ water rights.
Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in Kansas?
Currently, there is no state restriction on how much rainwater you can collect in Kansas, as there are no specific regulations against collecting rainwater in the state.
Once again, you cannot collect rainwater to the point that it interferes with someone else’s water rights and if the issue is contested there may be an investigation to determine exactly how much that is.
But as long as you’re not collecting excessive amounts that can harm the environment or others’ water rights, you’re free to collect rainwater.
What Does Kansas Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?
Kansas law permits citizens to use collected rainwater for anything that is otherwise legal. Technically, this means you can use rainwater for potable and non-potable purposes.
But practically, if your use of rainwater for drinking or other purposes violates state or local health codes then that is a no-go.
So, for non-emergency use, consider only using collected rainwater for tasks such as watering plants, watering crops, washing your car, and other non-potable uses.
Does Kansas Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?
Kansas does not require any special equipment or inspections to collect rainwater. Local codes might say otherwise, though.
Despite this, know that proper installation, design, maintenance and, upkeep of your system are necessary to ensure the quality of water and your safety.
It’s always a good practice to clean and maintain the collection system regularly, including the storage tanks, gutters, and filters to prevent contamination.
Be sure to check local zoning laws and HOAs too, if applicable, to ensure compliance with any specific regulations for your system.
Does Kansas Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?
Kansas doesn’t offer direct incentives for rainwater collection. Other non-profit organizations, service providers and municipalities may offer eco-friendly or water conservation incentives, however.
Bottom Line: Is Kansas a Good State for Rainwater Collection?
Kansas is a great state for rainwater collection all the way around due to its high average rainfall and nearly total lack of state-level laws and oversight.
In fact, as mentioned earlier, Kansas encourages citizens to adopt rainwater harvesting as a practical way to conserve water and help the environment.
Aside from the need to check with county and municipal authorities to ensure they are in compliance with any local regulations, you should not have any issues whatsoever getting a system up and running.
Kansas gets plenty of rain throughout the year, so take advantage of it and start collecting rainwater as soon as you can.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.