Very few self-reliant people, and for that matter very few citizens who live in arid climates need to be told about the importance of having a lot of water on hand in times of trouble.
But you can only stock so much inside your home. The solution? Rain-catching systems. A good rain-catching system can generate hundreds of gallons of stored water off as little as a half inch of rain.
But believe it or not, this ancient practice is not freely allowed in every state, and some states actually restricted pretty heavily! How about Utah? Is collecting rainwater illegal in Utah?
No, collecting rainwater is not illegal in the state of Utah. It used to be as recently as 2010 because all water belongs to the state. Today there are still restrictions on the quantity of rainwater you can collect and the number of covered containers you can have.
Utah used to be one of those states that we would all whisper and sneer about when it came to rainwater collection.
It was out of the question, once upon a time, if you wanted to stay on the right side of the law, but those days are thankfully well behind us.
That said, Utah does have more regulations and restrictions than most states and you’ll need to know what they are if you want to optimize your rain-catching setup without getting in trouble.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you what you need to know…
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in Utah?
No, collecting rainwater is not illegal in Utah. At least, not anymore: It used to be, and this only changed on May 11th, 2010 with the passage of Senate Bill 32.
This made it legal for private citizens to harvest rainwater, and only a few short years later in 2013 SB32 was amended with HB 36.
Together, these bills allowed citizens to collect rainwater in covered containers with some restrictions, though these are relatively mild and tolerable in most cases.
But you should know that if you want anything more than a couple of barrels worth of rainwater, you will need to register your system and your information online with the state.
Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?
No, collecting rainwater is not illegal at the county level in Utah, at least according to what I was able to find. I didn’t find any instances of any counties that make the practice purely illegal.
However, it is entirely possible that county or even city laws might have other restrictions and guidelines beyond even what the state imposes, so you should not assume that just because you have followed the state laws to the letter that your system is A-okay.
You should always do your due diligence before buying, and much less installing, any rainwater collection system.
Even violating the county laws alone might be enough to get you slapped with a sizable fine, or even criminal charges!
Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Utah?
Citizens can collect rainwater whenever they want in the state so long as there’s not a declared state of emergency or some other crisis that specifically disallows it.
In all cases, collected rainwater is only legally usable on the same parcel of land that the water is caught and stored on.
That’s to say, you cannot catch the water somewhere else and then bring it to your home property, or catch it at your home then load it up on a tanker truck or and take it somewhere for business purposes or for any other purpose.
However, depending on the size of your system, in terms of capacity and number of containers, and sometimes even the size of a single individual container, you might have to register with the state online. Failing to do so is an offense!
The next section will tell you a lot more about Utah’s capacity restrictions on collected rainwater.
Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in Utah?
Yes, always. There exist sort of overlapping sets of standards concerning how much rainwater the state will allow you to collect, and this will predicate whether or not you have to register with the Utah Division of Water Rights, or UDWR.
You can read more about them and the other requirements in state statute 73-3-1.5.
Simply stated, if you have no more than two covered rainwater storage containers, and neither container has a maximum capacity of more than 100 gallons of water, you don’t have to register with the state.
But if either container holds more than 100 gallons, regardless of how little the other container holds, you must register with the state.
No matter what kind of container or system you have, by law there is a maximum allowable storage of 2,500 gallons of rainwater. Keeping more water than that is an offense.
What Does Utah Allow Citizens to Use Rainwater For?
Utah specifies that caught rainwater can be used for non-potable purposes, the usual stuff you’re probably thinking of like landscaping, gardening, washing vehicles, cleaning up around the home, and things like that.
In any case, HB 36 specifies that any person who legally captures rainwater must comply with all state laws and all local health and safety rules and regulations, and this will make it questionable or outright illegal in most jurisdictions for you to use it for potable purposes without substantial treatment.
Does Utah Require Special Equipment or Inspection for Rainwater Collection?
Yes. For all registered systems, a person may only collect and store rainwater in any container that is installed in accordance with the State Construction Code or any other approved code under Title 15a of the State Construction and Fire Codes Act.
Does Utah Offer Incentives for Rainwater Collection?
No. There are no state-level incentives, rebates, or other financial benefits for installing a rainwater collection system or for utilizing collected rainwater for any purpose, including landscaping and irrigation.
Considering that the state of Utah had declared the practice outright illegal prior to 2010, I suppose the “privilege” of being able to catch and use rainwater that the state claims belongs to it is reward enough.
Bottom Line: Is Utah a Good State for Rainwater Collection?
Utah is a reasonably good state for rainwater collection, despite the seemingly heavy-handed state oversight.
The standards for container selection and installation are reasonable enough and achievable by most folks, so having to register if you want more than a couple of dinky barrels is an affront, and also inconvenient.
That being said, there are many parts of the state that tend to be extremely dry, so making the best possible use of precipitation for your normal household purposes and also as a prep against the loss of normal water services is a great idea.
Some parts of the state might only get 2 inches of rain even during peak season, so making use of every drop that you can is definitely in your best interest.
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.