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Rainwater Collection

In 2016, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation allowing rainwater collection in Colorado.

Rainwater collection, or rainwater “harvesting,” is the process of collecting, storing and putting rainwater runoff to use.

This change in legislature came after a study by Colorado Stormwater Center showed that rainwater collection does not take water away from the supply available to agriculture and other water-rights holders. The study also showed that nearly all of the water collected would be absorbed in the ground by the downspout or in the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permit to use rain barrels?

No. Qualifying homeowners are allowed to use rain barrels for outdoor purposes only.

Who can use rain barrels to collect water?

Rain barrels can only be installed at single-family and multi-family households with fewer than four units.

How much rainwater can I collect?

A maximum of two rain barrels can be used at each household, and the combined storage of the two rain barrels cannot exceed 110 gallons.

Does it matter what kind of container I use?

Yes. Any container capable of collecting the rain shedding from a roof or patio can be used as a rainwater harvesting system. To comply with Colorado water law, the container must be equipped with a sealable lid to reduce evaporation and bar access for mosquitoes to breed.

Does it matter where I place my rain barrels?

Yes. Rain barrels can only be used to capture rainwater from rooftop downspouts.

How can I use the rainwater?

Captured rainwater must be used to water outdoor lawns, plants and/or gardens on the same property from which the rainwater was captured. Rainwater cannot be used for drinking or other indoor water uses.

Can I drink the collected rainwater?

No. Rainwater collected from roofs is untreated and not safe to drink.

For more information on rainwater collection and use, click here.