If you’re preparing for natural disasters or any other unforeseen circumstances that might cut you off from your usual water supply, installing a rain catching system is a great idea. A properly designed and installed such system can quickly and effortlessly store dozens, hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water from a passing storm.
Humans have been engaging in the practice for millennia. But, meddlesome governments in some states have it seen fit to regulate, or even entirely outlaw rainwater collection by citizens.
How about Maryland? Is it illegal to collect rainwater in Maryland?
No, it is not illegal to collect rainwater in Maryland. The state has no statutes restricting the practice by citizens so long as the collection and use of the rainwater does not violate any other laws or codes.
This is great news for the folks who live in Maryland because you won’t have to worry about the state getting in your way, concerning the installation of your system or the use of the water you manage to collect.
However, just like everywhere else, you’ll have to double-check local laws and ordinances, and there might be some health code issues if you plan on using your captured rainwater for potable purposes. I’ll tell you all about that and a lot more just below…
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in Maryland?
No, collecting rainwater is not illegal in Maryland at the state level. In fact, the state doesn’t have any laws on the books for or against the practice, though tangentially related laws might affect your installation or your use of your rainwater.
Basically, as long as your collection of the rainwater it’s not break any other laws or interfere with anyone else’s rights you are good to go as far as the state government is concerned.
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?
No. Or rather I should say I did not find any counties that explicitly ban the practice as a matter of course.
But on that note, you should be prepared to check in with your local authorities to make sure that the installation of your system, the type of your system, your storage tanks and the use of your water don’t violate any local laws, guidelines or codes.
This might apply at the county or even at the city level, so always do your due diligence before you run out and drop a lot of cash on the components you’ll need for your ring collection system.
The state of Maryland is okay with it, but that does not mean you won’t run afoul of fines or potentially even civil charges if you ignore county mandates.
Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Maryland?
As far as the state is concerned, citizens can collect any rain that falls from the sky so long as it does not violate any other laws or infringe on the rights of others. If it’s raining, you can be collecting, and that’s the bottom line.
But once again, remember that your local laws might be significantly more restrictive, although my own research did not show any that were immediately apparent.
Also, it is not out of the question that state or local authorities might issue temporary stoppage orders on the collection of rainwater in times of drought, wildfire risk or other emergencies.
This is nowhere near as likely in Maryland as it is in drier and hotter states, but still something to keep in mind for the future.
Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in Maryland?
No. The state has no guidelines or restrictions for the amount of rainwater that a citizen can collect under any given circumstances, or maximum amount that can be collected at a given time.
It is totally up to you to make that determination, but do be sure that your tanks, both the number and the size, are allowable under your local laws as above.
What Does Maryland Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?
The state of Maryland does not issue any explicit guidance or have any statutes concerning the specific use of collected rainwater.
Ostensibly, you can use your rainwater for non-potable purposes, like irrigating your garden or crops, washing your car or house, and so forth, or potable purposes, such as drinking water or as water for your livestock.
However, by default, the collection and subsequent use of your rainwater cannot violate any other state or local laws, and this is the part where you might have to do some homework on your own to understand any potential limitations.
For instance, although many states and many localities do not ban the use of rainwater as drinking water for private citizen consumption, if doing so would violate local health codes concerning water purity or testing then you can’t do it.
In all cases, you can never use collected rainwater publicly for any potable purpose unless it is scrupulously filtered and disinfected.
Don’t even think about it if you are collecting rainwater as a commercial entity or business.
Also, while the idea of rain as drinking water is appealing – because what could be more pure? – the practical reality is that rainwater is often anything but pure.
Unless it falls directly out of the sky and into a sterilized container, your collected rainwater is going to pick up tons of contaminants in the form of dust, dirt, soot, particles from your roof shingles, dead insects from your gutter, animal feces and more.
All the stuff, or germs from the stuff, will be going into the tank and if you drink it as is the likelihood of infection is fairly high.
Regardless of how legal and carefree it might be locally wherever you live in Maryland, it’s always in your best interest to set up a high-performance water filter and it sterilization system if you’re going to be using your captured rainwater for drinking.
Does Maryland Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?
No, there are no state mandates, permits, or guidelines for rainwater collection system installation.
But once again, it might be a very different story at the local level, and it is especially likely that your system will need to meet or exceed building and plumbing codes if you’re going to install it legally, and that might entail permitting and inspection.
Also, don’t forget to check zoning laws because that is something that is likely to bite you on the back side when you can least expect or afford it, and if you live in a neighborhood that has an HOA, check in with them also.
Does Maryland Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?
No. Maryland offers no incentives, tax rebates, equipment credits or anything like that for rainwater collection, though the state does generally encourage water conservation.
However, Maryland is not as gung-ho about it as many other places.
It is still definitely worth your time to check with your municipal agencies and authorities for possible tax credits or other financial benefits, and likewise you might ask your utility provider, if you have one, if they offer the same.
Bottom Line: Is Maryland a Good State for Rainwater Collection?
Overall, yes, I think Maryland is a very good state for rainwater collection. Anytime the state government wants to mind its own business on a matter, that is good in my book.
The state won’t get in your way, so you’ll only have to deal with local codes and laws regarding your system and that is if any exist.
Also, Maryland is a pretty rainy state, getting between 44 and 45 inches of rain every year on average, higher than the United States average overall.
This means that any rainwater harvesting you install is definitely going to give you your money’s worth out of it.
I say if you live in Maryland and you want to improve your off-grid water readiness, make the installation of a rain collection system a high priority.
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.