One of the single best things you can do to improve your overall level of self-reliance is to install a rainwater catching system on your property.
Humans have been catching rain for millennia, and a good system that is in place when a nice shower or thunderstorm rolls through can give you many dozens or even hundreds of gallons of water.
I know it is sad to hear, but there are some states that have seen fit to regulate or even ban this wise practice. How about New York? Is it illegal to collect rainwater in New York?
No, surprisingly, it is not illegal to catch rainwater in New York State. New York actually encourages citizens to do so, in cities and rural areas alike. However, local codes will likely affect what kind of system you can install and what you can do with the water.
Well, color me surprised that a state so in love with authority sees fit to allow citizens to collect water that falls from the sky. If I had placed a bet on this outcome I would have probably lost a lot of money.
New York is a surprisingly good state when it comes to rainwater collection, although local building and plumbing codes are going to be major hurdles depending on your objectives.
Keep reading and I will tell you everything you need to know…
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in New York?
No! It is, surprisingly enough, not illegal to catch rainwater in New York state. New York is known for being highly litigious and in love with regulation when it comes to all kinds of things, but citizens collecting rainwater is not one of them, thankfully.
That being said, citizens engaging in the practice will still have to adhere to all other state laws concerning the act, and how the water is used. We will talk more about each of those factors in the following sections.
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?
No, to my knowledge. No county in New York State outright forbids citizens from catching and storing rainwater, though you can bet your bottom dollar that each county will have its own regulations concerning the design, materials, installation process and use of a raincatching system.
Chances are, your system will fall under the purview of state and local building codes and plumbing codes concerning connections.
It is an absolute certainty that how you use the water will be regulated based on health codes and other environmental factors.
Depending on where you live, this can be a larger or a smaller hurdle: in smaller towns and cities, or in the rural countryside, it will probably be less of a factor.
In New York City, Buffalo and other large cities, you’re going to have plenty of red tape, permits, inspections, and sign-offs to get through before you can implement your system.
Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in New York?
As far as the state is concerned, citizens can collect rainwater whenever they want. Shockingly enough, there are no laws regulating when citizens can collect it!
But once again your local ordinances might be an entirely different matter. They might not, but there might be times or seasons when you aren’t allowed to collect rain.
Make sure you check in with all the usual suspects at the local level before you pull the trigger on your system.
Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in New York?
Happily enough, there is no prescribed limit for the amount of rainwater that you can harvest in New York. But, I remind you, this is the state law, not your local laws…
Your municipal or city officials might regulate how much water you can collect over a given span of time, or how much you’re allowed to have on hand in total. It all depends.
Another thing to keep in mind is that state or local officials might issue restrictions or even outright temporary bands on the collection of rainwater depending on the status of groundwater during droughts or other emergencies.
This is not a state statute, but you will have to pay attention to any emergency declarations and orders to citizenry during those times.
What Does New York Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?
There is no law at the state level that will tell you what you can or cannot do with your collected rainwater. Not specifically.
But for all practical terms, the only thing you can really use your collected rainwater for is it non-potable purposes.
Non-potable purposes are for purposes other than drinking. This means you can use it for watering your garden, washing your car, flushing fixtures in your home and things like that.
You generally won’t be able to use it for drinking because of health code regulations.
It sounds strange, because what natural water source could be cleaner and purer than rain falling from the sky?
It turns out, that rainwater isn’t as pure as you think: unless your rainwater falls directly into a sterilized container, it is going to come into contact with your roof, gutters or other collection surfaces, and that means it is going to sweep along dust, dirt, Grease, dead insects, animal poop and a whole lot of other nasty stuff. Do you still want to drink it?
Local codes might allow you to use rainwater as drinking water if it has been properly filtered and disinfected by chemical or UV means, but you’ll have to dig in and read precisely what your local guidelines have to say.
Does New York Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?
New York State doesn’t mandate any particular kind of equipment or installation for private raincatching systems.
But, you had better believe local building and plumbing codes are going to be applicable pretty much wherever you are, and many of these will simply mirror the New York plumbing code.
Accordingly, and once again, you’ll have to study up on what these codes are before you plan, purchase, and install your system.
Also don’t forget that depending on your municipality you might need to get your system permitted and then inspected prior to implementing it.
Does New York Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?
New York State does not offer any incentives despite being encouraging of the practice of rainwater collection.
That being said, it’s highly likely that local water utility companies, cities and even counties will offer tax incentives, equipment rebates and more financial benefits for folks who undertake the installation and use of rain collection systems.
The easiest way to quickly check if these rebates exist is to hop on your various county and city agency websites.
Bottom Line: Is New York a Good State for Rainwater Collection?
New York is a pretty decent state for rainwater collection as it turns out, at least at the state level.
The state government has not instituted any outright restrictions on the practice by residents, though you might have to run the gauntlet on local building and plumbing codes depending on where you live.
If you live in a less populated part of the state or out in the country, it will probably be a cinch. If you live in New York City or another metropolis, it could be like pulling teeth.
But New York is a state that also gets a surprising amount of rainfall every year, and wherever you live if you like the idea of having consistent access to water even when all other civil supplies are compromised or down, a rain collection system is totally a worthwhile investment in the Empire State.
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.