Does anyone have an up-to-date list of which US states require a permit or otherwise restrict land owners from harvesting water? I know Washington, Utah, and Colorado were on the list at one point.
In the west water rights were acquired by the states to encourage expansion westward. Over times most states have enacted laws/regulations permitting rainwater catchment.
For a full list of these laws, please refer to: www.harvesth2o.com/statues_regulations.shtml
Utah still prohibits RWH outright, but I haven't heard of anyone being prosecuted for doing it on their homestead.
Louisiana, in New Orleans, still has a ban on cisterns because of an old law dating back to French rule that was a response to mosquito outbreaks.
California just adjusted their policy, in spite of Governor Brown's veto of a law that would have established guidelines. Los Angeles county passed legislation to support RWH there.
Most states have permitting and/or permission restrictions when a RWH system is installed in a service area of a public water supply to insure no cross-connections or backflow problems exist.
For more information on rainwater harvesting in Texas, go here: http://www.rainwaterharvestingtexas.com
Rainwater collection can refer to different aspects. There's agricultural use, there's home and garden use, there's storm run off prevention, etc.
As for collecting water for personal household use, Colorado has had a history of not allowing it , but in 2009, they passed new legislation to allow homeowner rain water collection (as well as well drilling): http://www.flxxrainwater.com/resources/co-laws/
It appears Washington still has restrictions, though has relaxed them on minimal amounts (such as rain barrels). This article also talks about Colorado's issues as well: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/the-legalities-of-rainwater-harvesting/
I'm not aware of other state's restrictions, though there very well may be.
Washington state removed the restrictions on rainwater harvesting for homeowners. It is not against the law now, in Wa. state to collect rainwater for personal use. That changed in 2009. Find the info here:
Of course, if you set up a massive dam and store millions of gallons of water, that is another story, particularly in Eastern Washington state. This is fodder for some extremists who have tried to prevaricate the situation by misrepresenting the facts, and spreading hate and discontent. This is totally wrong. The average homeowner can collect and store rainwater in Wa. State. It's no longer against the law - however it was for 90 some years before 2009.
Here's an up-to-date resource concerning the legality of rain collecting across the U.S. states since this question is often asked. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was contracted by the United States Department of Energy to produce this publication: June 2015, “Rainwater Harvesting State Regulations and Technical Resources”:
The U.S. Department of Energy contracted for the compilation of state and local laws and regulations concerning rainwater harvesting. The above map is an excerpt displaying States based on applicable regulations, lack of regulations, and/or governmental encouragement/incentives for rainwater harvesting. Note the map displays only Colorado State as being “Very Limited.”
Within the Continental U.S., the majority of States actually allow, if not support, rainwater harvesting, not ban it’s use, but very local health/law codes should always be checked. Colorado is the only state with extensive law restrictions applying to rainwater harvesting, and even then, the action is only limited and is due to water scarcity within the region and a sensitive environmental balance that is trying to be maintained for many reasons.