So, Is It Illegal To Collect Rainwater in Texas?

Water is one of the very most precious resources on Earth. Anyone, no matter where they live, can only live a few days at most without any water to drink before perishing, and a lack of water for hygiene, cooking and other household tasks can seriously degrade both health and quality of life.

flag of Texas on a wooden board

Accordingly, it is smart to stockpile as much water as possible, and as cheaply and reliably as you can.

Naturally, many preppers turn to rain-catching systems to divert water that would otherwise end up in the ground to holding tanks for reuse.

But believe it or not, the practice is not legal everywhere. How about Texas? Is it illegal to collect rainwater in Texas?

No, it isn’t illegal to collect rainwater in Texas. To the contrary, Texas is extremely proactive about encouraging and incentivizing citizens and businesses to collect, store and reuse rainwater to offset the usage of typical water supplies.

More than most other states, Texas can be seen as something of a model for incentivizing the collection and reuse of rainwater.

They have even gone so far as to institute laws preventing HOAs and other groups or agencies from interfering with residential housing and commercial structures that want to incorporate rain-catching systems.

There is a lot more to learn on the subject of catching rainwater in Texas, so keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know.

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

No. In fact, it is the opposite: the government of Texas has worked hard in recent years to institute proactive laws and incentives that will encourage citizens to collect rainwater, wherever they happen to be in the state.

Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?

Generally no, though some regulations do vary from county to county. Summit counties and cities have limitations on the size or total capacity of a cistern or other collection system.

Other counties require inspection and others have requirements for permitting if the rain catching system and the water collected from it are going to be used for potable purposes.

Some counties also require registration if a residential building is equipped with a rain catching system, or if the system is connected to city or county water supplies.

However, the state legislature of Texas has instituted laws that prevent HOAs, agencies, and other organizations from preventing citizens from building or adapting homes and commercial structures with rainwater catching systems.

Pretty much wherever you go in the state, you can rest assured that you won’t have too much trouble obtaining, installing, and using a rain catching system for storing water.

Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Texas?

Usually anytime you want, although collection limitations might be imposed during periods of extreme drought that could imperil groundwater sources, streams, rivers, and the like.

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

Not at the state level, but there might be limitations on total storage capacity at the county or city level. Depending on where you go, this could range from several hundred to several thousand gallons.

Also, some counties might institute a capacity restriction for residential use, but not commercial use.

What Does Texas Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?

Anything, including potable water purposes so long as regulations for treatment and preventing cross-contamination in the event of public water hookups are followed.

Texas has been making big strides recently to push the use of gray water even in public settings for non-potable purposes like operating fixtures, flushing toilets, and the like, and compared to years past give citizens a much broader latitude on what exactly they can use their own collected water for, so long as they are using it privately.

Texas is currently pushing the overall quality of rainwater compared to other water sources, including its purity, pH, and so forth.

Of course, you’ll want to make it a point to treat any water you plan on drinking if you have a point.

But if all you have is rainwater to drink and it has been stored in an appropriate tank that is protected from contamination with other unsafe water sources, you shouldn’t hesitate to drink it.

Does Texas Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?

In some cases, yes.

The state has special requirements regarding all rainwater collection and storage systems if they are hooked up or connected to public water supplies, specifically cross-contamination guards:

Texas Administrative Code Rule §290.44 Water Distribution

(h) Backflow, siphonage.
  (1) No water connection from any public drinking water supply system shall be allowed to any residence or establishment where an actual or potential contamination hazard exists unless the public water facilities are protected from contamination.
    (A) At any residence or establishment where an actual or potential contamination hazard exists, additional protection shall be required at the meter in the form of an air gap or backflow prevention assembly. The type of backflow prevention assembly required shall be determined by the specific potential hazard identified in §290.47(f) of this title (relating to Appendices).
    (B) At any residence or establishment where an actual or potential contamination hazard exists and an adequate internal cross-connection control program is in effect, backflow protection at the water service entrance or meter is not required.
      (i) An adequate internal cross-connection control program shall include an annual inspection and testing by a licensed backflow prevention assembly tester on all backflow prevention assemblies used for health hazard protection.
      (ii) Copies of all such inspection and test reports must be obtained and kept on file by the water purveyor.
      (iii) It will be the responsibility of the water purveyor to ensure that these requirements are met.
  (2) No water connection from any public drinking water supply system shall be connected to any condensing, cooling, or industrial process or any other system of nonpotable usage over which the public water supply system officials do not have sanitary control, unless the said connection is made in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection. Water from such systems cannot be returned to the potable water supply.

Individual counties might have their own requirements for the type of rainwater collection system that may be installed on a given kind of building, along with restrictions on the type and size of tanks.

Independent of mandated types of systems, inspection might be required for a sign-off before a system is used.

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

Though the state of Texas as a whole is very pro-rainwater collection, you’ll always need to double-check your county and city regulations also, though state law supersedes some of the more egregious requirements or restrictions that a county would otherwise impose.

Does Texas Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?

Yes, many! Cities and counties all around the state of Texas offer incentives for the installation of rainwater-catching systems and the reuse of rainwater, including tax rebates.

Statewide there is no sales tax on rain-catching systems and related equipment.

However, to take advantage of it the purchaser of the equipment must furnish a tax exemption application form, 01-339, to the seller of the equipment at the time of purchase:

Texas Tax Code Sec. 151.355 Water-related Exemptions

The following are exempted from taxes imposed by this chapter:
(1)rainwater harvesting equipment or supplies, water recycling and reuse equipment or supplies, or other equipment, services, or supplies used solely to reduce or eliminate water use;
(2)equipment, services, or supplies used solely for desalination of surface water or groundwater;
(3)equipment, services, or supplies used solely for brush control designed to enhance the availability of water;
(4)equipment, services, or supplies used solely for precipitation enhancement;
(5)equipment, services, or supplies used solely to construct or operate a water or wastewater system certified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as a regional system;
(6)equipment, services, or supplies used solely to construct or operate a water supply or wastewater system by a private entity as a public-private partnership as certified by the political subdivision that is a party to the project; and

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

Yes, Texas is an excellent state concerning rainwater collection and reuse, and in recent years has become a model for promoting and incentivizing the installation and use of such systems in residential and commercial settings alike.

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