Is It Illegal to Collect Rainwater in Oregon

In the realm of sustainable living and environmental conservation, rainwater collection has emerged as a popular practice. However, the legality of rainwater harvesting varies across the United States, often leaving residents puzzled about their state’s regulations.

In Oregon, a state known for its lush landscapes and environmental consciousness, the laws surrounding rainwater collection are of particular interest to homeowners, gardeners, and ecologists. This article aims to provide a detailed exploration of the legal framework governing rainwater collection in Oregon, ensuring residents are well-informed and compliant with state regulations.

Rainwater Collection

Rainwater collection, essentially, involves capturing rain as it falls, usually from rooftops, and storing it for later use. This practice is lauded for its environmental benefits, such as reducing runoff, conserving water, and lessening the burden on municipal water systems. However, it’s the legal nuances of this practice that often raise questions among those looking to adopt it.

The Legal Status of Rainwater Harvesting in Oregon

As of the most recent legal updates, collecting rainwater in Oregon is legal and, in fact, encouraged under specific conditions. The state recognizes the benefits of rainwater harvesting both for individual use and for broader environmental conservation efforts.

Key Legal Provisions and Regulations

1. House Bill 3059

In 2009, Oregon passed House Bill 3059, which explicitly allowed the harvesting of rainwater from roof surfaces. This bill was a significant step forward in clarifying the legal status of rainwater collection in the state. It stipulates that Oregonians are permitted to collect and store rainwater from rooftops without any need for water rights.

2. Oregon Building Codes

The Oregon Building Codes also play a crucial role in regulating rainwater harvesting systems. These codes ensure that any system installed for rainwater collection is safe, efficient, and does not negatively impact the public water supply. Compliance with building codes is crucial for larger or more complex rainwater harvesting systems.

Practical Applications and Restrictions

While rainwater collection is legal in Oregon, there are practical considerations and restrictions that residents must be aware of:

  • Intended Use: Rainwater collected in Oregon is primarily intended for non-potable uses such as irrigation and landscape watering. If intended for potable uses, specific treatment and safety measures must be adhered to.
  • System Requirements: Collection systems must be designed to prevent contamination and should not adversely affect the quality of the water.
  • Permits and Inspections: For large or complex systems, obtaining the appropriate permits and passing inspections may be required.

Benefits of Rainwater Collection in Oregon

The advantages of rainwater harvesting in Oregon extend beyond individual water conservation. It aids in managing stormwater runoff, reducing erosion, and maintaining groundwater levels. Furthermore, it supports sustainable gardening and landscaping practices, which are prominent in Oregon’s environmentally conscious communities.

Community Initiatives and Support

Oregon’s commitment to environmental stewardship is reflected in various community initiatives and support systems for rainwater harvesting. Local governments and environmental groups often provide resources, workshops, and incentives to encourage residents to adopt rainwater collection practices.

Future Prospects and Environmental Impact

Looking ahead, rainwater collection in Oregon is likely to gain more traction as a sustainable practice. Its role in mitigating the effects of climate change, supporting biodiversity, and promoting sustainable water use is increasingly recognized.


In conclusion, the collection of rainwater in Oregon is a legal, beneficial, and environmentally responsible practice. By adhering to state regulations and embracing sustainable methods, Oregonians can effectively utilize rainwater harvesting to support their water needs and contribute to the state’s environmental goals.

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