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New legislation in Colorado finally legalizes rainwater collection for watering lawns and gardens


Rainwater storage

(NaturalNews) A new law goes into effect August 1 that will allow Colorado citizens to collect rainwater for use in watering lawns and gardens. The new legislation eases part of the state's strict water usage regulations, some of which were established as far back as the 1850s.

Although many states have regulations regarding rainwater harvesting, Colorado's laws were among the most restrictive until the recent passage of House Bill (HB) 16-1005, which which will soon allow property owners to store up to 110 gallons of rainwater in two collection barrels.

Until now, Colorado homeowners faced fines of up to $500 for illegally harvesting rainwater, but after a long battle in the state legislature good sense has prevailed, and the opposition has been appeased by an amendment to the language in the bill preventing homeowners from having any actual "water rights" that would have priority over existing water rights agreements.

Rainwater collection will have no negative impact on water supplies

The bill was killed in 2015 over concerns that rainwater collection would affect the state water supply, despite a Colorado State University study that said there would be no impact on the water supply or currently-held water rights.

Opposition to the bill came mainly from farmers who feared their water access might be curtailed.

From Government Slaves:

"The Colorado Farm Bureau tried to scuttle the law because of fears it would deprive farmers of water rights, and succeeded in getting it held up in committee.

"The bureau was afraid that allowing rain barrels would give property owners water rights they could sell to cities or real estate developers. In many parts of the state, agriculture is nearly impossible because all the water rights were sold to city governments."

The bill was amended to read: "THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FURTHER DECLARES THAT THE USE OF A RAIN BARREL DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A WATER RIGHT."

Another provision in the bill allows the state to restrict rainwater collection if deemed necessary, as in cases of drought.

Contrary to fears of an impact on the state's water supply, the collection of rainwater may actually help ease water shortages, while saving money for homeowners.

Up to 97 percent of rainwater is lost or wasted

In some parts of Colorado up to 97 percent of rainwater is lost to evaporation or waste, and as much as 60 percent of the clean water used in urban areas is devoted to lawn and garden irrigation.

The new law is obviously a step in the right direction, but does it go far enough?

Some critics say that 110 gallons is an inadequate amount for irrigating most average lawns and gardens.

In the reader comments to the Government Slaves article, "Tom" said:

"This is fake legislation to make it appear that the government has finally given in to common sense when it has not. 110 gallons isn't enough to water a small garden even once ... ."

Another commentator noted that if all Colorado homeowners were allowed to collect all the rainwater they could use "the difference in the water to that protected class could not be measured."

They make a very good point. In many places state and local governments have attempted to criminalize rainwater collection in an apparent attempt to discourage self-sufficient off-the-grid living.

The case of Oregon resident Gary Harrington, who was threatened with a jail sentence for collecting rainwater on his property, is evidence of how ridiculous these laws can be.

And although the new Colorado legislation likely set the limit too low, it is perhaps a sign that attitudes and policies regarding rainwater harvesting are beginning to change.

There is simply no good argument for preventing people from collecting and using the rainwater that falls on their properties, no matter who else may have been given water rights preferences by the authorities.

Sources:

GovtSlaves.info

ColoradoIndependent.com

GJSentinel.com

Gazette.com

NaturalNews.com

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