Thursday, October 09, 2008

Did you know catching rain water can be illegal?

Update: Following a study showing that 97% of rainwater never makes it to streams, Colorado legislators Sen. Chris Romer and Rep. Marsha Looper introduced bills which would allow rainwater harvesting in rural areas facing drought and under 11 pilot projects in urban areas, reports Nicholas Riccardi in the Los Angeles Times. (Read more)

Many drought-stricken denizens in the West have found cisterns and rain-collection barrels to be the solution to their water woes. But in many places, they're illegal.

"Virtually all flowing water in most Western states is already dedicated to someone's use, and state water officials figure that trapping rainwater amounts to impeding that legal right," writes Peter Friederici in High Country News. While the law is rarely enforced, those bear the brunt of it are often those who are trying to follow the legal channels. Kris Holstrom, who runs an organic farm in Telluride, Colo., was denied a permit to collect building run-off, which she wanted to use when her well began providing less water. "They felt that the water belonged to someone else once it hit my roof," she says, because it fell in the watershed of the San Miguel River, three miles from her farm.

"Most observers agree that water collection by a few scattered rural residents is not going to affect overall supplies," writes Friederici, although "intensive collection by many urban residents, on the other hand, really might affect a region's water budget." State legislators in Colorado, Utah and Washington are working to draft laws that would allow for small amounts of rainwater to be collected for personal and small-business use, but companies and interest groups with investments in those water sources are expected to oppose reform. (Read more)

1 comment:

Al Cross said...

Check listings of public television stations for a new documentary, "The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?" about drought and water management, hosted by actress Jane Seymour. The documentary deals with conservation, land-use planning and how continuing drought and low precipitation have depleted water sources throughout the West. Here's a Web page with more information, downloadable photos, trailers and content: