This is a question we’ve heard once or twice, and we thought we should take a moment to address it here on our blog.
Here’s the short answer: no, you do not require a permit to use a rain barrel in Florida. In fact, many of Florida’s county extensions are openly and actively trying to encourage Floridians to use them. They host numerous classes and offer rain barrels you can take home with you.
So where did the rumor that you might need a permit for a rain barrel come from?
It could have come from the same place that prompts people to ask whether rain barrels are legal at all.
It could also have come from some confusion about rain barrels vs. cisterns. Cisterns are much larger containers that hold a great deal in common with rain barrels. As the IFAS Extension notes:
Cisterns are a good choice for those who want a greater storage capacity than rain barrels provide. A 6’x6’x6’ cistern can hold 1,600 gallons.
Cisterns can be above- or below-ground or partially submerged. They need to be watertight, have enclosed lids, and be made of non-reactive material (e.g. reinforced concrete, galvanized steel, or plastic).
Cisterns do often require permits, as they are larger construction projects offering a much greater chance for things to go wrong. Here are the links to the permitting offices covering cisterns in the counties we serve.
Most people who build a cistern will need a contractor to get the job done for them safely. For example, if you want an elevated cistern you’ll need someone who can build a structure that will account for the weight of the water alone. Contractors will generally have a good idea of how to get the cistern properly filtered so you can make use of it. They’ll be able to design it in a way that gives you access to it so you can clean it, too, which is an important feature. It’s not a DIY project unless you have some truly advanced skills.
Keep in mind if you do plan to install a cistern you’ll need very clean gutters. Cisterns require good pre-filtration, and since they’re still catching water off your roof this means squeaky clean gutters. You’ll get the cleanest gutters you’ve ever experienced with our Flo-Free leaf guards, so contact us about those if you’re considering the larger rainwater collection project. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free estimate which you can work into your overall project budget.
Whether you use a barrel or a cistern, collecting rainwater is a great way to stay Florida-friendly!