This week, we’re celebrating the top ten states that encourage rainwater harvesting as a sustainable water source. From California to Hawai’i, state laws decide rainwater system design and use based on state water rights.
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In 2009, Illinois created the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act (link) which relates to water conservation, that includes promoting rainwater harvesting. House Bill 991 (2011) expanded homeowners’ rights to install solar and rainwater systems with regards to HOA’s and other community associations.
9. Rhode Island
Rhode Island House Bill 7070 (2012) (link) created a State tax credit for rainwater systems. Any individual or business that installs a system to collect rainwater for use is entitled to a state income tax credit of 10% of the cost of installing the system, not to exceed $1,000.
Ohio allows rainwater harvesting, even for potable purposes. There are some local rebates and financial incentives for rainwater systems, typically based on the water provider for the area.
Rainwater harvesting is encouraged in Florida with tax incentives and rebates being offered by several local municipalities. The only reason that Florida is #7 on our list is that they also encourage desalination and other ways to source water that don’t necessarily align with rainwater harvesting.
Arizona House Bill 2830 (2012) (link) allows for local governing bodies to implement financial incentives for water saving projects, including rainwater harvesting systems. Even with the amount of rainfall that Arizona receives, rainwater systems are still used, primarily for irrigation.
California Assembly Bill 1750 (2012) the Rainwater Capture Act authorizes residential, commercial, and governmental landowners to install, maintain, and operate rainwater systems. State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) has purposed SCA 9 that would financially incentivize rainwater systems as one solution to help alleviate the water crisis.
Rainwater harvesting is used as a primary source of water for many inhabitants in Alaska. Groundwater harvesting is heavily regulated but can be purchased as a water right with the State of Alaska.
Hawai’i Senate Concurrent Resolution 172 (2008) (link) encouraged county water boards to study and promote water conservation through rainwater collection. There has been a long history of rainwater collection in the state as the main water source for many residents.
Texas offers sales-tax-free rainwater systems, tax incentives, and some local rebates for rainwater harvesting. Texas House Bill 3391 (2011) (link) is one of the most far-reaching and comprehensive pieces of legislation regarding rainwater harvesting in recent years.
1. The Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are estimated to have the most rainwater harvesting systems in the United States since they are mandatory for new buildings, Code Title 29 §308 (link). It’s estimated that around 500,000 people rely on rainwater harvesting as their water source.