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Start Collecting Rainwater Today

Rainwater harvesting is an age-old practice that’s gaining traction worldwide, especially in residential gardens and schoolyards. By collecting and storing rainwater from your roof for later use, you’re not only conserving water but also reaping a host of environmental benefits like stormwater management, erosion control, flood prevention, as well as personal benefits, such as reducing water bills and your dependence on municipal water supplies.

For every inch of rain on every square foot of your roof, you have the potential to capture over half a gallon of water. That’s more than 600 gallons from just 1000 square feet of roof area!  From nourishing your garden to supplementing your daily needs, rainwater is the ultimate multitasker. With a few tweaks, it can even become safe for drinking!

Different states have different laws on collecting rainwater, so be sure to check your own state’s legislation before setting up a rainwater harvesting system.  Most allow do it, but some have restrictions or require a permit.

To start you will need three simple components: a catchment area (your roof), a conveyance system (your gutters and downspouts), and a storage system (a rain barrel). Barrels may be made of wood (old casks from wineries work great) or food grade plastic.  Also consider some safety aspects when utilizing rain barrels for water collection and using that water for irrigation:

  • Ensure the barrel is food grade and has never transported chemicals
  • Ensure the top of the rain barrel is properly screened so insects, animals and debris do not get in the water
  • Before using for irrigation on fruits or vegetables you may want to consider mildly chlorinating or ozonating the water to kill unwanted bacteria
  • Label the barrel “Do Not Drink”

Scroll down to see if your local California community is giving away free Rainwater Collection Barrels or giving rebates for them…
Join us in making every raindrop count – start your rainwater harvesting journey today!

California Rainwater Collection Laws

The Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 (AB 1750) was passed in California making it legal to collect rainwater as long as the California State Water Resources Board requirements are followed. The law allows residential, commercial and governmental landowners to install, maintain, and operate rain barrel systems and rainwater capture systems for specified purposes.  In 2018, SB-558 was passed to exclude the new construction of a rainwater harvesting system from property taxes.

Rainwater harvesting systems in California must adhere to state requirements to ensure both safety and effectiveness. Each system must be sealed to prevent any potential contamination or intrusion by pests into the stored water. Also, the inclusion of overflow systems is crucial to preventing flooding and maintaining optimal drainage.

Harvested rainwater in California can only be used for supplemental purposes, like irrigation and toilet flushing. It cannot be used for human drinking or other sanitary water uses, such as bathing or showering.

Local California Community Resources

If your city or county are not listed below, try typing them into a search followed by “Rainwater Rebate”.  If you find additional cities or counties offering free rain barrels or rebates, please email so we can add them to this list…

Northern California Rainwater Harvesting Programs

Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) –
Rain Barrel Rebate serving residents of San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Coastside County Water District, North Coast County Water District, Estero Municipal Improvement District and Purissima Hills Water District

City of Palo Alto Rain Garden Rebate Program:

City of Santa Clara Residential Rain Barrel Rebate Program:

San Mateo County Rain Barrel Rebate Program:

Solano County Water Conserving Rebate Program:

Sonoma County Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Program:

North Marin Water District Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Program:

Marin Municipal Water District Rain Barrel and Cistern Rebate Program:

City of Sacramento Rain Barrel Rebate Program:

City of Woodland Rain Barrel Rebate Program:

Southern California Rainwater Harvesting Programs

SoCal WaterSmart Rain Barrel Rebate Program:

San Diego County Residential Rain Barrel Rebate Program:

City of Ventura Rain Barrel Discount Program:

City of Fresno Rain Barrel Rebate Program: