A law in Colorado Springs prohibiting rain barrels because the rain belongs to the municipal utility is high on the list of the most absurd I’ve ever heard about. My daughter, who has a friend who lives in the city, told me about it, and at first I really thought she was joking. She said she was not, but I still had a hard time wrapping my mind around such a bizarre law. Then I did an Internet search and this is what I found in an article that was published in 2009. I have not found anything more recent about this, but it does appear from what R. Scott Rappold said in the article in The Gazette, the law is still in place, despite efforts to get it changed.
Here is part of the article:
In Colorado, it’s illegal for people to collect rainfall, one of the more bizarre quirks of the state’s labyrinthine water laws. The water that falls on lawns belongs to downstream water-rights owners.
But attitudes toward collecting rainfall for watering lawns are changing, and two recent pieces of legislation, including one signed by Gov. Bill Ritter on Tuesday , make it easier for people to use rain barrels. Such water collection is considered environmentally friendly and encouraged in many states.
If you live in the city, don’t install a barrel under your gutter spout just yet. The legislation lets residents on wells collect rain and establishes 10 pilot projects for new developments. Residents on municipal water still can’t legally collect rain, and water suppliers are leery of legislation that would let them.
“All the water was spoken for here in the Arkansas Basin 100 years ago or more,” said Kevin Lusk, water supply engineer for Colorado Springs Utilities. “If the water falls as rain, that’s water that was going to get to the stream system, and somebody already has dibs on it, and if somebody intercepts that, it’s the same as stealing.”
State Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, a primary sponsor of both bills, decided to push the issue after hearing last year from a resident upset about not being able to set up a rain barrel.
If city governments and utilities want to do something for a long-term solution to water shortages, I’m sure there are more sensible solutions than this one.
I have a rain barrel that collects the water from my gutters, and I have big pails for the water that comes off the roof of my barn. But plenty of other water runs off my property in a storm, going into the stream system that feeds into the major water supplies in East Texas. The 100 gallons or so that I collect to water my garden hardly makes a dent in what ends up down the road.
For those of you who do not live in Colorado Springs, or Utah where there is a similar ban on rain barrels, you can install one for yourself. Not only does it save on your water bill to water plants and gardens with collected rainwater, it is better for the plants. If you are interested in trying one, there are all kinds available, and my search for images turned up hundreds. Mine is not nearly as fancy or pretty as those manufactured for the purpose, but out here in the country a 50 gallon heavy trash can serves the purpose. Although I really would like something prettier. Maybe I can get my artistic daughter to paint on mine.