Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

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Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#1  Postby the_5th_ape » Jul 28, 2010 3:37 pm

Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states as Big Government claims ownership over our water

Many of the freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S. are quickly eroding as the nation transforms from the land of the free into the land of the enslaved, but what I'm about to share with you takes the assault on our freedoms to a whole new level. You may not be aware of this, but many Western states, including Utah, Washington and Colorado, have long outlawed individuals from collecting rainwater on their own properties because, according to officials, that rain belongs to someone else.

As bizarre as it sounds, laws restricting property owners from "diverting" water that falls on their own homes and land have been on the books for quite some time in many Western states. Only recently, as droughts and renewed interest in water conservation methods have become more common, have individuals and business owners started butting heads with law enforcement over the practice of collecting rainwater for personal use.

Check out this YouTube video of a news report out of Salt Lake City, Utah, about the issue. It's illegal in Utah to divert rainwater without a valid water right, and Mark Miller of Mark Miller Toyota, found this out the hard way.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jjxg8f3Gq0[/youtube]

After constructing a large rainwater collection system at his new dealership to use for washing new cars, Miller found out that the project was actually an "unlawful diversion of rainwater." Even though it makes logical conservation sense to collect rainwater for this type of use since rain is scarce in Utah, it's still considered a violation of water rights which apparently belong exclusively to Utah's various government bodies.

"Utah's the second driest state in the nation. Our laws probably ought to catch up with that," explained Miller in response to the state's ridiculous rainwater collection ban.

Salt Lake City officials worked out a compromise with Miller and are now permitting him to use "their" rainwater, but the fact that individuals like Miller don't actually own the rainwater that falls on their property is a true indicator of what little freedom we actually have here in the U.S. (Access to the rainwater that falls on your own property seems to be a basic right, wouldn't you agree?)

Outlawing rainwater collection in other states
Utah isn't the only state with rainwater collection bans, either. Colorado and Washington also have rainwater collection restrictions that limit the free use of rainwater, but these restrictions vary among different areas of the states and legislators have passed some laws to help ease the restrictions.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#2  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 28, 2010 5:17 pm

I wonder what would happen if you go out i the rain, tilt your head back, and open your gob? Jail time? Sheesh!
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#3  Postby james1v » Jul 28, 2010 5:31 pm

Well, at least its not in the control of private companies as it is here in the UK. I can never forgive the Conservatives for privatising water utilities. :thumbdown:
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#4  Postby DoctorE » Jul 28, 2010 5:34 pm

Wow how stupid can things go....
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#5  Postby Macdoc » Jul 28, 2010 6:12 pm

Wow how stupid can things go....


oh banning clotheslines while suffering peak brown outs....

not allowing single rider mcycles in HOV lanes :coffee:
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#6  Postby HughMcB » Jul 28, 2010 6:24 pm

I wasn't aware that the US government owns the weather. :scratch:
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#7  Postby mraltair » Jul 28, 2010 6:25 pm

But if the rain is going to fall onto the lawn and soak into the grass, and you divert it to collect it and then save for hotter weather to use on your lawn, where it would have ended up previously how is that illegal? It ends up in the same place. What if you accidentally leave a container of sort outside and it rains are you then by law required to empty it?

Soon you will be arrested for flying a kite or using a hoover for diverting air.

EDIT: Clarity.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#8  Postby SPMaximus » Jul 28, 2010 6:27 pm

Does this mean that the government must pay the damage if your house gets flooded? :roll:
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#9  Postby Warren Dew » Jul 28, 2010 6:36 pm

mraltair wrote:But if the rain is going to fall onto the lawn and soak into the grass, and you divert it to collect it and then save for hotter weather to use on your lawn, where it would have ended up previously how is that illegal? I can see why it's utterly fucking stupid, but not illegal. It ends up in the same place. what if you accidentally leave a container of sort outside and it rains are you then by law required to empty it?

It's possible that the auto dealership was using the water, then flushing it down a drain rather than just letting it seep into the groundwater. To the extent that the city ends up having to treat more sewer water without being paid for the water that was used, they could be unhappy; I know my city just meters water used, and assumes sewer usage is the same.

If the dealership did let the soap or wax laden water seep into the groundwater, that could be an environmental hazard. I don't think the issue is as simple as it's made out to be.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#10  Postby chairman bill » Jul 28, 2010 6:38 pm

The Land of the Free! Well done. Who ever said USians had no sense of irony?
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#11  Postby HughMcB » Jul 28, 2010 6:39 pm

mraltair wrote:But if the rain is going to fall onto the lawn and soak into the grass, and you divert it to collect it and then save for hotter weather to use on your lawn, where it would have ended up previously how is that illegal? I can see why it's utterly fucking stupid, but not illegal. It ends up in the same place. what if you accidentally leave a container of sort outside and it rains are you then by law required to empty it?

Soon you will be arrested for flying a kite or using a hoover for diverting air.

See bold.

So rainwater harvesting systems are utterly stupid are they?

Not when you can use said "gray water" in non-potable applications throughout your house (or business etc.) and thereby dramatically relieving the loads on your potable water source (thereby reducing the production energy required to create such water).

But I suppose you are right, it's just utterly fucking stupid. :roll:
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#12  Postby chairman bill » Jul 28, 2010 6:44 pm

You wait; soon, using composting toilets & recycling grey water will be illegal, because it deprives sewage companies of potential profit.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#13  Postby mraltair » Jul 28, 2010 6:51 pm

No collecting rainwater is great, we have a water-butt collecting water from our gutter to use on our plants and sometimes lawns. It's stupid to make it illegal to collect water that falls on private property, whether it's a business or a home. Everybody should be able to use collected rainwater if it is to fall on their property.

It's rainwater so I don't buy the downstream argument, It will rain there at some point too, then they can collect it.

EDIT: Ohh wait. I'm sorry I posted in a hurry and didn't read it back. I see my mistake :doh: Sorry for the confusion Hugh.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#14  Postby HughMcB » Jul 28, 2010 7:14 pm

chairman bill wrote:You wait; soon, using composting toilets & recycling grey water will be illegal, because it deprives sewage companies of potential profit.

And what about the poor old government that can tax those profits, don't forget them too.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#15  Postby DaveScriv » Jul 28, 2010 7:24 pm

I think there is a difference in the laws of most countries between saving small amounts of water for home/garden and limited business use, which would generally be allowed (or laws not enforced), and larger scale water collection systems which it is reasonable to control because such systems could have environmental effects, such as ruining the ecology of smaller rivers.

Members here who live in arid areas will probably know of major disputes about water rights, because where water is in short supply its an important issue.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#16  Postby ConnyRaSk » Jul 28, 2010 7:37 pm

damn! why doesn't this then just become a law that everyone simply sabotages by ignoring it? ( i mean there are laws on the books nowadays from way back when-almost in every country- that make no sense whatsoever, but are still there, but everyone ignores) Make it a concerted effort, as in, if everybody in a particular town or region ignores it ( begins to save rainwater ), do you think the sheriffs will go and jail everyone? If the rainwater from gutters goes into an underwater cistern and gets pumped up to use on gardens, how in the world can that be illegal to do? it ends up in the same place anyway?
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#17  Postby bdcarlitosway » Jul 28, 2010 7:59 pm

This is so stupid I thought it was some kind of Poe article or something. Seriously? The americans at it again to prove the predominant stereotype of stupid americans is not that far fetched.
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#18  Postby j.mills » Jul 28, 2010 10:00 pm

Bolivia did the same thing when it privatised the water supply and franchised it to Bechtel. It is - or anyway can be - a way of ensuring you pay for your water, preventing you from operating "off-grid". Bechtel famously introduced massive price increases in this poor country, leading to demonstrations, injuries and one death, before they were finally kicked out. The company then sued the government for the money it intended to make...

Nothing so ominous might be behind the situation in the US. But if the money-men can screw you, they'll screw you...
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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#19  Postby Grimstad » Jul 28, 2010 10:07 pm

I really wanted to call bullshit on this, being from Washington state, so I looked it up. Rooftop water collection is actually encouraged. However there are permitting fees associated with such collection systems, just like a building permit.

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/hq/rwh.html
Rainwater collection is certainly nothing new; humans have been doing it for thousands of years. However, with the advent of cheap, potable water delivered right to your doorstep, those who harvest rain have become somewhat of an anomaly. This is changing in Washington State, largely for three reasons:
•Rainwater collection can be a tool in the stormwater management toolbox,
•Rainwater collection can be an eco-friendly water supply,
•Rainwater collection projects can be a sound investment not only monetarily but for the Puget Sound.
On October 12, 2009, Ecology issued an Interpretive Policy Statement clarifying that a water right is not required for rooftop rainwater harvesting. There is also a Focus Sheet on this subject – see the links in the right column.

Once you have collected the rainwater there are no limitations on its use. If and when the department determines that rooftop or guzzler rainwater harvesting systems are likely to negatively affect instream values or existing water rights, local restrictions may be set in place to govern subsequent new systems (there are currently no restrictions). However, Ecology generally does not expect the collection of harvested rainwater to cause problems or reduce the amount of runoff that would have occurred from the site in its natural, pre-development state.

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Re: Collecting rainwater now illegal in many states....

#20  Postby Onyx8 » Jul 28, 2010 11:00 pm

Warren Dew wrote:
mraltair wrote:But if the rain is going to fall onto the lawn and soak into the grass, and you divert it to collect it and then save for hotter weather to use on your lawn, where it would have ended up previously how is that illegal? I can see why it's utterly fucking stupid, but not illegal. It ends up in the same place. what if you accidentally leave a container of sort outside and it rains are you then by law required to empty it?

It's possible that the auto dealership was using the water, then flushing it down a drain rather than just letting it seep into the groundwater. To the extent that the city ends up having to treat more sewer water without being paid for the water that was used, they could be unhappy; I know my city just meters water used, and assumes sewer usage is the same.

If the dealership did let the soap or wax laden water seep into the groundwater, that could be an environmental hazard. I don't think the issue is as simple as it's made out to be.


As it's a car dealership, which are basically huge parking lots, all the water that falls is going into the storm drain anyway. Car dealerships aren't known for their acres of lawns feeding groundwater systems.
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