Once again, I have spent my time debunking misunderstandings, misconceptions, and misinformation on the internet about rainwater harvesting in Texas. Here are the truths about Texas and rainwater harvesting.
Rainwater harvesting is legal in Texas.
In fact, the State of Texas, the Texas Legislature and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality support rainwater harvesting enthusiastically. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality states that most if not all domestic water needs can be met by collecting rainwater. No permits are required in the State of Texas to collect rainwater. (Dana O Porter)
The State of Texas publishes several articles, documents, and pamphlets that offer advice rainwater collection, storage, and use. (See RESOURCES)
It doesn’t make economic sense to collect rainwater
When does it not make economic sense to collect something free? As an example, here in Lubbock, we get an average of 18.6 inches of rain per year. (Service, 2019)
During a one-inch rainfall event, 623 gallons of water falls on every 1000 square feet. A 2,000 square foot house will collect 1,246 gallons of water during a one-inch rain. In Lubbock, that roof would collect 23,175.6 gallons of water over the course of a year. The current lowest water cost in Lubbock is $4.03 per thousand gallons of water. (This rate goes up in stages based on water usage. Your savings could be more depending on your water usage.) (Department, 2018). If you used that collected rainwater on your landscape instead of buying it from the City of Lubbock, you would save $93.40. Who scoffs at saving one hundred dollars?
Much more important than the dollar savings is the environmental savings that occur. In most neighborhoods, the rainwater that falls on roofs runs into the street or other drainage system and is carried into the groundwater and surface waters. The rainwater picks up contaminants such as fertilizers, hydrocarbons residues from the streets and driveways, and other waste products. These eventually end up in the streams, rivers, and lakes in Texas where they exact a huge toll on wildlife and water quality, not to mention the cost of removing all of this junk before that water can be put into your domestic water supply so you can turn on the tap and have a clean drink.
Other Savings you don’t know about!
There are other ways to see a return on your investment in rainwater harvesting. Did you know that in Texas, any investment or cost associated with installing a rainwater harvesting system is exempt from sales tax and may even qualify you for an exemption from a portion of your property taxes?
The Texas Legislature authorized local taxing units the authority to grant property tax exemptions of property on which water conservation initiatives have been implemented. This includes rainwater collection systems. (Constitution, LawServer)
Installation and maintenance on a rain harvesting system is also sales tax exempt in Texas. You don’t have to be a contractor or installer to get this benefit. The State of Texas offers an online form you can print, fill-out, and take to your local big-box store when you purchase the equipment for your rainwater harvesting system. (Comptroller)
Many Texas cities are now offering rebates and discounts to customers who install rainwater harvesting equipment. More information about these programs is available online, from your local city government and in the Texas Rainwater Harvesting Guide. (Texas Water Development Board)
Water is not cheap in Texas, and we don’t have a huge supply.
According to the State of Texas, the population of Texas is expected to double in the next 50 years, which means at least a doubling of the demand for water. As of right now, several areas of Texas are already experiencing a shortage of available water for domestic uses. The amount of water available in underground aquifers and surface storage such as lakes is limited. Many experts believe that Texas will not be able to meet the demands for water in some metropolitan areas without looking at alternative supply options. (Texas Water Development Board, n.d.)
My Homeowners Association prohibits me from installing rainwater collection equipment.
Once again the Texas Legislature has proven that they fully support Rainwater harvesting in Texas. In 2003, the legislature passed HB 645 that prohibits a homeowner association from implementing new covenants that ban rainwater harvesting installations. If your current covenant was in place before 2003 and it doesn’t have any language prohibiting the installation of rainwater collections systems, your HOA cannot change the covenant to include such a prohibition. (Constitution, Texas Legislature, n.d.)
Your HOA can, however, implement rules requiring that your equipment be screened appropriately.
I can’t find anyone locally who I feel is qualified to install a system on my home.
The American Rainwater Collection System Association and the American Society of Sanitary Engineers certify Rainwater Collections System Designers and Installers. You can access their websites for direct links to certified designers and installers in your area. See the links below for directions to both associations and their search pages to locate a certified professional in your area. (See RESOURCES)
Comptroller, T. (n.d.). Texas Sales and Use Tax Forms. Retrieved from Comptroller.texas.gov: https://comptroller.texas.gov/forms/01-339.pdf
Constitution, T. (n.d.). LawServer. Retrieved from lawserver.com: https://www.lawserver.com/law/texas-constitution/texas_constitution_art_8_sec_1m
Constitution, T. (n.d.). Texas Legislature. Retrieved from http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/78R/billtext/html/HB00645F.htm
Dana O Porter, R. A. (n.d.). Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Retrieved from TCEQ.texas.gov: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/comm_exec/pubs/gi/gi-404.pdf
Department, L. W. (2018). City of Lubbock Water Department 2018 Rates. Retrieved from ps.ci.lubbock.ts.us: https://ps.ci.lubbock.tx.us/departmental-websites/departments/water-department/WaterServices/billing
Service, N. W. (2019). National Weather Service. Retrieved from Weather.gov: https://www.weather.gov/lub/climate-klbb-pcpn-history
Texas Water Development Board. (n.d.). Texas Water Development Board. Retrieved from http://www.twdb.texas.gov/index.asp
Texas Water Development Board. (n.d.). Texas Water Development Board Rainwater Harvesting Manual. Retrieved from TWDB.gov: http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/brochures/conservation/doc/RainwaterHarvestingManual_3rdedition.pdf