Rain Harvesting Followup


rain_reduced   A few months ago I wrote about rain harvesting.  It is an idea whose time has come for certain climates and is being used more and more by homeowners and commercial businesses.  Someone emailed this week pointing out a very weird law concerning rain harvesting that at first I could not believe.  Apparently the rain is considered public property and as such it is illegal in many places to harvest it.  The idea is that the rain is supposed to flow unimpeded into rivers and lakes and to prevent that from happening is bad for the environment and the public good.

I did a little research and indeed this is true.  In fact the city of Seattle, or maybe the county Seattle is in, had to rewrite the law so that rain catching by homeowners is specifically allowed.  I found many places that ignore the law, and others that have changed it to allow rain harvesting.  Here is a blog post that goes into a bit more detail specifically on Colorado law.  Interesting and crazy angle to what I think is the great idea of rain harvesting.

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Will Sig
1 JD Thomas

There was a piece on NPR’s Morning Edition today on this very topic.


You can here it there.

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2 Steve

Hey Will,
To my mind, the stranger or sillier the law, the more likely it is real.

Still, it does raise an interesting question. If all landowners caught the rain and didn’t allow runoff, would the rivers flow less?

But if the rain hits my lawn and soaks in, am I not preventing runoff? What is the difference between “soaking in” and being collected in a tank?
I think this law is attempting to address something that should probably be left alone. ~ Steve, the mildly confused trade show guru

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3 Will

That’s funny JD. I just read your link. I wrote the above this weekend – The NPR piece was today. Weird. In any case I recommend all to read the NPR article and the comments on it. Much more in-depth than my little rant above!


4 Anna

Oh wow that is new one to me. Thanks for sharing. Anna 🙂

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5 Bob

Lol, we better check into that , like I have commented before, it is the thing to do with going green in our corporation, lots of Malls are looking into it right now.

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6 Stewie

Preventing the rain to flow to rivers sure is wrong, but in this concrete jungle were the rain is not going anywhere we can use this water to shower, to wash clothes and many other activities, and reduce the use of potable water for this purposes


7 Will

Interesting point. Our concrete and asphalt jungle is preventing the rain from being absorbed into the earth. But at the same time it is putting more of it into rivers and streams. Unfortunately as it does this it takes all the oil, antifreeze, cigarette buts and other detritus with it.


8 Keith

I guess the bottom line here is that “government” is a business and it needs all those fees generated by all the water it “owns”.

One big questions begs to be asked. What happens to that rain that the Colorado government “owns” when it passes into another state, say a neighboring state sharing the same watershed. Would not a resident of that other state be in violation of Colorado’s totalitarian watershed laws? Can not the Colorado water cops fine someone in that state who collects rain water? After all, that person will probably just -waste it- by drinking it, bathing in it or watering plants, instead of passing it along to the Colorado water meters to be used in industry.

After all, Nestle needs to bottle water to sell to Colorado residents.

Technically, anything but pavement and gutters would be in violation of this ridiculous law.


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