In Colorado, Rain Barrels Are Illegal......What????


Sussex Monarch
11 Years
Mar 27, 2008
Who owns Colorado's rainwater?
Environmentalists and others like to gather it in containers for use in drier times. But state law says it belongs to those who bought the rights to waterways.

Reporting from Denver — Every time it rains here, Kris Holstrom knowingly breaks the law.
Holstrom's violation is the fancifully painted 55-gallon buckets underneath the gutters of her farmhouse on a mesa 15 miles from the resort town of Telluride. The barrels catch rain and snowmelt, which Holstrom uses to irrigate the small vegetable garden she and her husband maintain.

But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on Holstrom's property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.

What Holstrom does is called rainwater harvesting. It's a practice that dates back to the dawn of civilization, and is increasingly in vogue among environmentalists and others who pursue sustainable lifestyles. They collect varying amounts of water, depending on the rainfall and the vessels they collect it in. The only risk involved is losing it to evaporation. Or running afoul of Western states' water laws.

Those laws, some of them more than a century old, have governed the development of the region since pioneer days.

"If you try to collect rainwater, well, that water really belongs to someone else," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. "We get into a very detailed accounting on every little drop."

Frank Jaeger of the Parker Water and Sanitation District, on the arid foothills south of Denver, sees water harvesting as an insidious attempt to take water from entities that have paid dearly for the resource.

"Every drop of water that comes down keeps the ground wet and helps the flow of the river," Jaeger said. He scoffs at arguments that harvesters like Holstrom only take a few drops from rivers. "Everything always starts with one little bite at a time."

Increasingly, however, states are trying to make the practice more welcome. Bills in Colorado and Utah, two states that have limited harvesting over the years, would adjust their laws to allow it in certain scenarios, over the protest of people like Jaeger.

Organic farmers and urban dreamers aren't the only people pushing to legalize water harvesting. Developer Harold Smethills wants to build more than 10,000 homes southwest of Denver that would be supplied by giant cisterns that capture the rain that falls on the 3,200-acre subdivision. He supports the change in Colorado law.
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Recipient of The Biff Twang
10 Years
Mar 14, 2009
pretty soon you'll have to pay for the privilege of breathing THEIR air.


Continuum Shift Anomaly
11 Years
Jan 14, 2009
Umm... Anybody got a plane ticket to somewhere NOT America? 'Cuz I think these next few years will be full of crud from anything government related.
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Master of the Silly
11 Years
Jul 11, 2008
Winter Haven, FL
That's just plain silly! I shake my head and giggle......
As judiest priest once said...BREAKING THE LAW, BREAKING THE LAW!!!
Yeah i'd be breaking it!


11 Years
Mar 29, 2008
South of KCMO
Becareful the new bill trying to be passed through titled: Clean Water Restoration Act states:

(25) Waters of the United States-The term "waters of the United States" means all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, streams (including intermettent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters, or activities affecting these waters are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution. (To read the bill in its entirety visit

means you will have to ask permission to use ANY water on your property including the rain water from the little puddle that has gathered in your yard.


12 Years
Feb 21, 2007
Wilmington, NC
Hmmm, I would think that the ones harvesting the rainwater are only borrowing it for a short time and it eventually goes right back onto the ground... just in a place that is more beneficial at the time? It is amazing how they can actually have a law against it!


Positively Ducky
11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
Rainwater laws have been on the books for ever in dry states like Colorado. When I moved here from WIsconsin I was shocked.

State Senator Marsha Looper recently sponsored a bill allowing some in rural areas to collect rain water. According to her report, about 90% of it evaporates before it can get in to aquifers anyway.

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