As reported by Jaymi Heimbuch over at TreeHugger, a new bill introduced to the California State Assembly, AB 275, the Rainwater Capture Act of 2011, would grant Californians full permission to not only collect rainwater for outdoor landscape irrigation (even this remains a delicate topic in states like Washington, Utah and Colorado where, up until 2009, rainwater harvesting was illegal) but for non-potable indoor use as well.

In many areas around the world, folks are pretty much free to collect and use rainwater as they see fit whether it’s inside or outside the home. In some countries, take Bermuda for example, it’s compulsory that every newly built home has a rainwater harvesting system. This isn’t quite the case in some parts of the U.S. where possessing a rain barrel is akin to owning a bong: sure you can openly buy and own one but you damned well better not use it (at least not without permission). It’s a shaky analogy but hopefully you get the picture.

Noah Garrison over at the NRDC Switchboard explains the details of the Rainwater Capture Act of 2011 and what it would mean for drought-ridden California if passed:

The bill would explicitly authorize landowners to install rain barrel systems or cisterns to capture rainwater for outdoor, non-potable uses such as landscape irrigation. This practice is, in general, already permissible in the state. However, the bill would also authorize landowners to install systems to capture rainwater for use, with proper treatment, in indoor non-potable applications, such as toilet or urinal flushing. Allowing rainwater to be used for indoor applications would greatly expand the opportunities to capture and use rainwater in the state. The more uses rainwater can be directed to, the faster storage tanks can be emptied, and the more water can be captured.
As Garrison goes on to explain, states such as Georgia, Virginia and Oregon already permit the indoor use of captured rainwater. And then there’s that special, special place called San Francisco. Writes Garrison: “In the absence of statewide authorization, one of the few cities to permit the use of captured rainwater for indoor, non-potable applications is the city of San Francisco, which had to engineer a memorandum of understanding between its Public Utilities Commission, Department of Building Inspection, and Department of Public Health to permit the practice.” And although I'm unsure if the indoor use or rainwater is kosher or not in Los Angeles, the use of rain barrels for landscaping purposes is most certainly encouraged — in 2009, the city gave away 600 of them, free of charge, through the L.A. Rainwater Harvesting Program

Do you live in an area where the indoor use of harvested rainwater is permitted/encouraged? Californians, what's your take on the proposed bill? If it does get the greenlight would you consider installing a system that would allow for you to use rainwater to flush your toilet? 

Via [NRDC Switchboard] via [TreeHugger

See also:

Ways to save water

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) reports on design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.