Colorado Legalizes Rain Drop CatchingJune 16, 2015
In 2009, rainwater collection became legal in Colorado for the first time since territorial days. From the moment it fell in many Western states, each droplet of water received ownership assignment. While Coloradans raced to scoop rainfall right out of their gutters, water rights were actually assigned more than a century ago.
Laws legalizing rainwater collection
In the midst of population growth and widespread drought, a number of Western states have started encouraging residents to actively collect rainwater. Now, Colorado has passed two new laws to legalize rainwater collection. Some Colorado residents have already been illegally collecting rainwater to water their plants and vegetable gardens. For these bloodthirsty hydration pirates, the new laws mean no longer facing criminal charges for catching water on their roofs and watering around their homes.
Ownership in the sky
The concept of owning the rain falling from the sky is as much a philosophy debate as it is a legal one. In Western states, lawyers take the issue quite seriously. In fact, in the Four Corners area, which includes Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, a number of rules and regulations dictate rainwater collection and use. Meanwhile, each of these states has a subculture of residents illegally using the rain freely provided by nature, but forbidden by state laws. In Colorado, the two new laws allow up to a quarter-million residents with private wells to begin harvesting their own rainwater.
Enforcement of regulations
While Colorado rainwater collection may have previously been illegal, the laws weren’t stringently enforced. Retailers could sell rain equipment, but admitted to knowing better than to ask what the buyer’s intent was with the equipment. State water officials also acknowledged that they rarely enforced the old law. These new laws allow state officials to create a system of fines for rain catchers who don’t obtain a permit first.
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