Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityCatching rainwater in Nevada is illegal, but could be up for debate | KRNV
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Catching rainwater in Nevada is illegal, but could be up for debate

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RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) The Truckee River surged to its highest peak on Saturday since 2012 thanks to recent storms, bringing into light the issue of collecting rainwater.

In Nevada, it's illegal to catch rainwater with any type of system. However, the hot topic could be up for debate during the next legislative session.

"Keeping in mind we are the driest state in the nation and perhaps what has worked in other states, maybe we should have a smaller, allowable amount in Nevada," said Jason King, State Engineer for Nevada Division of Water Resources.

Nevada law states that collecting rainwater with any type of rain catching systems, whether it's with a rain barrel or even a bucket, is illegal. And Nevada's State Engineer believes that law should change.

"My hope is that there is some kind of exemption made for minimums amounts for rain harvesting through rain barrels."

King says the issue was recently brought up during the Governor's Drought Forum because all uses of water, except from domestic wells, requires a permit through King's office. His recommendation to the Governor is to change Nevada's water law so small scale rain catchment is allowed, but doesn't conflict with existing water rights.

"I think a rain barrel of 55 gallons, having 4 of those, so a couple hundred gallons, I think that personally is diminish, and should be accepted."

King mentioned one argument on the issue, rain and snowmelt recharges the groundwater aquifers and gets into rivers.

"Many of those systems are already fully appropriated by other people who have gone through the permitting process, so the argument you're getting into is that you're capturing rainwater that would otherwise get to another permit holder resource."

And he believes small-scale rain catching would actually be beneficial in the Silver State.

"I think the biggest thing it does is truly it fosters a culture of water conservation, it gives people the ability to actually collect the water, put in on their flowers, gardens, etc."

King believes there should be public input on how much water could be captured. And he says there is currently two interim water committees studying water.

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