CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Collecting rainwater is legal in West Virginia, but some states take it a step further and offer tax credits or other incentives for rainwater collectors. Unfortunately, West Virginia is not one of those states, but there are no laws preventing you from rain catching.

It is important to note that the CDC advises against drinking rainwater as it can contain harmful bacteria, toxins or chemicals that can be washed into rainwater collectors. A study released by the University of Stockholm in August 2022 also found PFAS or “forever chemical” levels exceeded EPA advisories even in the remotest parts of the world. However, rainwater can still be used for many non-drinking purposes:

  • Washing your car
  • Cleaning garden tools
  • Watering gardens and house plants

Some states take more of an active role than others when it comes to rainwater collection. In Rhode Island, any individual or business that installs a cistern is entitled to a tax credit equal to 10% of the cost of installing the collector, so long as it does not exceed $1,000. In 2020, Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources offered rain collection barrels and composting barrels at a discount to encourage residents to conserve water.

However, in a few states, the collection of rainwater does have restrictions. In Colorado residents are only permitted to collect 110 gallons across two barrels at a time, can only use it on the property it was collected, and can only use it for outdoor purposes like gardening, not drinking. In Illinois, rainwater collecting systems are only to be used for non-potable (non-drinking) purposes and must be constructed in accordance with Illinois plumbing codes.

In previous years, the Morgantown Utility Board has offered workshops that teach attendees how to set up their own water collection barrels at home and provides them with the materials needed to do so. However, as of the publishing of this article, no dates or times have been announced for rain barrel workshops in 2023.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Kmtextor