That would be wrong.
It’s perfectly legal, providing you catch the rainwater off of an artificial, impervious surface, according to Michael Mattick, the Oregon Water Resources Department’s watermaster for district 2, which includes Lane County.
In other words, landowners nearby might have had the right to the water Harrington was storing and weren’t getting it.
Rainwater systems can be as simple as putting rain barrels under gutter downspouts, or as complex as constructing an underground cistern and water pump system.” Mattick says that after rainwater harvesting became a legal issue in Colorado in the 1990s — it was illegal to collect rainwater in barrels there until 2016 — Oregon was motivated to amend its own laws.
“It was just silent.” So under Oregon law since about 1995, you can collect rainwater, but you have to collect it off an artificial, impervious surface, like a roof or a parking lot.
You can’t build a dam or dig a big hole and catch rainwater and store it, but you could technically cover 10-acre parking lot in plastic sheeting, catch that rainwater in barrels and be good to go.
And some rainwater systems require permits.
Larger or more complex systems used for irrigation may require a building permit and stormwater review.
Indoor water that you plan to use for flushing toilets and clothes washing needs plumbing, electrical and possibly building permits if you install a cistern or underground tank.