Collecting, or “harvesting”, rainwater in Maryland and D.C. has is a great way to benefit the environment and save money on your water bill at the same time.
Is it legal?
You may have heard that it’s illegal to collect rainwater, but this varies by state. In Maryland and D.C. it is not only perfectly legal to collect rainwater as long as it is used for non-potable purposes. Basically as long as you don’t drink it, it is even encouraged. You can’t drink it because it’s untreated, however there are other uses for the water and we’ll go into them shortly.
It is encouraged in Maryland and D.C. to collect rainwater because of the environmental benefits. If you live in D.C. you may even be eligible for a rebate if you install a rain barrel.
How is it good for the environment?
Both Maryland and D.C. have a problem with rain runoff. Basically when runoff rain flows into storm drains and rivers it collects pollutants from the ground and these pollutants eventually reach the Chesapeake Bay. By decreasing the amount of runoff from places like rooftops and parking lots, less pollution reaches the Bay.
So what if I can’t drink the water, what do I do with it?
An ideal use of the water is gardening, as rainwater is better for plants than tap water. Remember, container gardens need extensive amounts of water. Collected rainwater can also be used for cleaning, and in an emergency you’ll have water to flush toilets with.