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Water Code - WAT


  ( Heading of Division 6 amended by Stats. 1957, Ch. 1932. )

PART 2.4. Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 [10570 - 10574]
  ( Part 2.4 added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 537, Sec. 2. )


This part shall be known, and may be cited, as the Rainwater Capture Act of 2012.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 537, Sec. 2. (AB 1750) Effective January 1, 2013.)


The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) As California has grown and developed, the amount of stormwater flowing off buildings, parking lots, roads, and other impervious surfaces into surface water streams, flood channels, and storm sewers has increased, thereby reducing the volume of water allowed to infiltrate into groundwater aquifers and increasing water and pollution flowing to the ocean and other surface waters. At the same time, recurring droughts and water shortages in California have made local water supply augmentation and water conservation efforts a priority.

(b) Historical patterns of precipitation are predicted to change, with two major implications for water supply. First, an increasing amount of California’s water is predicted to fall not as snow in the mountains, but as rain in other areas of the state. This will likely have a profound and transforming effect on California’s hydrologic cycle and much of that water will no longer be captured by California’s reservoirs, many of which are located to capture snowmelt. Second, runoff resulting from snowmelt is predicted to occur progressively earlier in the year, and reservoirs operated for flood control purposes must release water early in the season to protect against later storms, thereby reducing the amount of early season snowmelt that can be stored.

(c) Rainwater and stormwater, captured and properly managed, can contribute significantly to local water supplies by infiltrating and recharging groundwater aquifers, thereby increasing available supplies of drinking water. In addition, the onsite capture, storage, and use of rainwater for nonpotable uses significantly reduces demand for potable water, contributing to the statutory objective of a 20-percent reduction in urban per capita water use in California by December 31, 2020.

(d) Expanding opportunities for rainwater capture to augment water supply will require efforts at all levels, from individual landowners to state and local agencies and watershed managers.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 537, Sec. 2. (AB 1750) Effective January 1, 2013.)


Nothing in this part shall be construed to do any of the following:

(a) Alter or impair any existing rights.

(b) Change existing water rights law.

(c) Authorize a landscape contractor to engage in or perform activities that require a license pursuant to the Professional Engineers Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code).

(d) Impair the authority of the California Building Standards Commission to adopt and implement building standards for rainwater capture systems pursuant to existing law.

(e) Affect use of rainwater on agricultural lands.

(f) Impair the authority of a water supplier pursuant to Subchapter 1 of Chapter 5 of Division 1 of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 537, Sec. 2. (AB 1750) Effective January 1, 2013.)


Solely for the purposes of this part, and unless the context otherwise requires, the following definitions govern the construction of this part:

(a) “Developed or developing lands” means lands that have one or more of the characteristics described in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 56375.3 of the Government Code.

(b) “Rain barrel system” is a type of rainwater capture system that does not use electricity or a water pump and is not connected to or reliant on a potable water system.

(c) “Rainwater” means precipitation on any public or private parcel that has not entered an offsite storm drain system or channel, a flood control channel, or any other stream channel, and has not previously been put to beneficial use.

(d) “Rainwater capture system” means a facility designed to capture, retain, and store rainwater flowing off a building rooftop for subsequent onsite use.

(e) “Stormwater” has the same meaning as defined in Section 10561.5.

(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 555, Sec. 6. (SB 985) Effective January 1, 2015.)


Use of rainwater collected from rooftops does not require a water right permit pursuant to Section 1201.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 537, Sec. 2. (AB 1750) Effective January 1, 2013.)

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