Discover the “legal way” to do rainwater harvesting!

The only complete list online of incentive programs to upgrade your property with rain barrels or cisterns!

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Rain Harvesting FAQ

Frequently Asked 

Is collecting rainwater illegal in my state?

We hear this all the time. “You can’t collect rainwater in my state or city because it’s illegal.” This used to be the case in some areas because cities were trying to prevent mosquito populations, and some water runoff is necessary for cleaning streets and moving mass through combined sewers. HOWEVER, it is not illegal in any US state to collect rainwater, but many areas have specific rules before you can install a rain barrel and how much rain you are allowed to collect each year.

Can I buy any type of rain barrel and get a rebate?

The type and amount of rebate you get for installing a rain barrel depend on the incentive program. We see that many incentive programs require you to get at least a 50-gallon barrel; some even want you to get a specific material like plastic over galvanized steel. When you search for an incentive program, be sure to read the fine print, or we can do that for you. 🙂

I can install a rain barrel myself. Why do I need Rainplan?

You absolutely can install a rain barrel yourself, and there are many youtube videos to show you how. Yet, if you don’t have a certain downspout, this can get tricky. Also, in some cases where your foundation has a slope or you want to install a drip irrigation system, we recommend a contractor. If you want to install a cistern, you will need a contractor (even for the above-ground variety) because they need to design and pour the foundation. We can help get you a rebate for all these projects and send you qualified and vetted green infrastructure contractors in your area. Why stress about it when you can have someone else do that?

Is Rainplan a Contractor?

No, we match you with the best contractors in your area and help you navigate the installation process.

Does a rain barrel require maintenance?

Yep! If you want a route with less maintenance but more initial upfront costs, go with a cistern. For rain barrels, upkeep is mandatory. In the winter, you need to unplug, dry, and store them, so they don’t crack. You need to use the water inside of them within two weeks after rainfall so mosquito larvae don’t form. You also need to clean them out after each rainy season so they don’t smell gross from the decaying twigs, leaves, bugs, etc., that evade the filter.  Contractors are willing to schedule seasonal maintenance in most areas and can do this for you if you want.

How quickly does a rain barrel fill up?

Depending on your roof size, your rain barrel will certainly fill up after MOST rain events. For example: from a roof section of 200 sq. ft. if it rains half an inch it will fill up a 60-gallon barrel. 

Cistern or rain barrel, what's the difference?

Simply put: rain barrels are great for residential homes, and cisterns are great for commercial properties or larger-scale homes on a huge lot. We have a blog about it if you want to read more.

Why Rainwater Collection Is Worth It

Lower Your Water Bills

Use less city water and get stormwater fee reductions each month.

Enhance your Ecosystem

More consistent watering means richer soil and landscaping that doesn’t die.

Prevent Property Damage

Collecting rain water off your roof can prevent your property from flooding and creating damage.

This looks like a streamlined way to explore the process and see if we qualify. We were aware that the DC government is supportive of creating incentives and we went through that process, but the Rainplan was another piece of it and even better with the help and support of the team to do all the steps.

Shelley M.

NE Washington DC

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