Every prepper knows that water is one of the most precious resources we have. Accordingly, we are constantly thinking of ways to stockpile it, filter it, treat it, and make it safe to use.
Right now, water comes out of any tap that we can see, but that might not always be the case in the future. Whether you want to provide for your own high volume and sustainable water supply, or just cut down on your monthly water bill, collecting rainwater is a great way to do that.
But, as crazy as it sounds, it isn’t legal to collect rainwater everywhere, or at least collect it how and when you want. So how about the state of Michigan? Is it illegal to collect rainwater in Michigan?
No, it is not illegal to collect rainwater in Michigan. The state actually encourages citizens and businesses to collect rainwater to reduce costs and strain on public resources. Some cities offer rebates and other incentives for doing so.
It’s definitely good news to hear if you live in Michigan and you’ll be even happier to hear that Michigan is far more liberal when it comes to the collection of rainwater than some other states.
That being said, there’s still a lot you need to know regarding what they specify for materials and design when it comes to your actual collection apparatus. Keep reading and we will give you all the details.
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in Michigan?
No. The collection of rainwater is completely legal at the state level in Michigan. In fact, just a decade ago the state began a big initiative to cut costs and reduce the strain on public resources through various cost-saving measures, and one of those cost-saving measures as you might imagine was the harvesting of rainwater and the reuse of other types of water.
You can read all about this for yourself in the Cost Effective Governmental Energy Use Act of 2012. Quite the mouthful, but the act is easy to understand. You can read the relevant excerpt below:
18.1713 Definitions; C, D.Sec. 3.
(1) “Cost-savings measure” may include any facility improvement, repair, or alteration of, or any equipment, fixture, or furnishing to be added or used in, any facility that is designed to reduce energy consumption, utility costs, capital avoidance costs, capital improvement costs, maintenance costs, and operating costs or increase revenue or the operating efficiency of the facility for its appointed functions and that is cost-effective. Cost-savings measure may include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(d) Devices that reduce water consumption or sewer charges, including all of the following:
(i) Water-conserving fixtures, appliances, and equipment, including water-conserving landscape irrigation equipment, or the substitution of non-water-using fixtures, appliances, and equipment.
(ii) Landscaping measures that reduce watering demands and capture and hold applied water and rainfall, including landscape contouring, such as the use of berms, swales, and terraces, the use of soil amendments, such as compost, that increase the water-holding capacity of the soil, rainwater harvesting equipment, and equipment to make use of water collected as part of a storm water system installed for water quality control.
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?
No, generally, though some counties might impose restrictions on how much water you can collect and at what times depending on the status of groundwater, tributaries, and other sources.
Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Michigan?
Generally throughout Michigan citizens can collect rainwater whenever they want so long as they collect it using state-approved methods and materials according to the Michigan Plumbing Code. More on that in just a bit.
Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in Michigan?
No, though again, some counties might have their own restrictions concerning how much water you can collect under certain conditions, particularly during drought conditions or anytime groundwater sources are very low.
What Does Michigan Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?
Nominally Michigan allows citizens to use harvested rainwater for any purpose but as you will see in the plumbing code below it specifies systems and materials for use in harvesting and containing non-potable water.
Though it is up to you if you want to drink your harvested rainwater, you won’t be able to hook it up to other water systems legally unless it has the appropriate filtration systems in place for potable use.
Does Michigan Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?
Yes. Though not quite as oppressive as some other states, Michigan does have requirements concerning the collection apparatus, storage tanking, filtration, and a roof washing that must be used for rainwater harvesting.
See the excerpt from the Michigan Plumbing Code below for more details, but remember the following is not a complete list of requirements:
A1303.2 Collection Surface
Rainwater shall be collected only from above-ground impervious roofing surfaces constructed from approved materials. Collection of water from vehicular parking or pedestrian surfaces shall be prohibited except where the water is used exclusively for landscape irrigation. Overflow and bleed-off pipes from roof-mounted appliances including, but not limited to, evaporative coolers, water heaters, and solar water heaters shall not discharge onto rainwater collection surfaces.
A1303.3 Debris Excluders
Downspouts and leaders shall be connected to a roof washer and shall be equipped with a debris excluder or equivalent device to prevent the contamination of collected rainwater with leaves, sticks, pine needles and similar material. Debris excluders and equivalent devices shall be self-cleaning.
A1303.4 Roof Washer
A sufficient amount of rainwater shall be diverted at the beginning of each rain event, and not allowed to enter the storage tank, to wash accumulated debris from the collection surface. The amount of rainfall to be diverted shall be field adjustable as necessary to minimize storage tank water contamination. The roof washer shall not rely on manually operated valves or devices, and shall operate automatically. Diverted rainwater shall not be drained to the roof surface, and shall be discharged in a manner consistent with the storm water runoff requirements of the jurisdiction. Roof washers shall be accessible for maintenance and service.
Does Michigan Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?
No, the State of Michigan does not, but some counties and cities do, namely Detroit, among others.
Bottom Line: Is Michigan a Good State for Rainwater Collection?
Michigan is a generally good state for rainwater harvesting. The state encourages citizens and businesses to collect their own rainwater for a variety of purposes, and quite a few cities have rebate programs and other incentives in place to further incentivize people to start reducing public water use and wastewater generation.
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.