Fact Check: US Does NOT Have Federal Ban On Collecting Rainwater

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: US Does NOT Have Federal Ban On Collecting Rainwater No Federal Ban

Does the federal government prohibit collecting rainwater nationwide? No, that's not true: There is no such ban. The Energy Department highlights the benefits of collecting rainwater for non-drinking purposes and shares a detailed guide explaining specific regulations in each state if there are any.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on January 6, 2024, under the title:

Federal ban on

collecting rainwater?

The caption continued:

Rain water! #HEALINGTOGETHER #eattolive #health #rain #growthwater

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-03-05 at 10.27.15 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Mar 5 15:27:05 2024 UTC)

In the video, a man was seen collecting rainwater and pouring it into small plastic bottles for further preservation. He paraphrased the question in the clip's headline:

Did you know it's just illegal to collect rainwater illegal, to collect rainwater falling from the sky?

The man did not cite any laws or regulations -- or any sources at all.

Contrary to the claim, the website of the Energy Department (archived here) encourages people to collect rainwater for applications other than drinking or cooking. It even offers a tool that provides an overview of local regulations on a state-by-state basis, given that rainwater collecting is regulated at the local, not federal level. Some localities have additional restrictions, requirements or incentives, but no state outright prohibits rainwater harvesting for all purposes under all circumstances.

For example, Nevada (archived here), known for its restrictive regulations on the matter, doesn't do it: Its residents are still allowed to collect rainwater "from the rooftop of a single-family dwelling for nonpotable domestic use." In contrast, Oregon (archived here), which also has several restrictive laws guiding the process, allows the use of rainwater even for drinking as long as a household has a proper filtration system in place and doesn't use the same pipes for potable and non-potable water.

A search across websites indexed by Google News produced no results (archived here) for the keywords "rainwater" and "federal ban":

Screen Shot 2024-03-05 at 11.11.08 AM.png

(Source: Google News screenshot taken on Tue Mar 5 16:11:08 2024 UTC)

The claim is likely to have stemmed from a fragment of rapper Kanye West's October 2022 interview in which he stated that "it's illegal to collect rainwater in America," among many other unrelated controversial things that prompted the interview's removal (archived here) from YouTube.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about water can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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