In Colorado, Rain Barrels Are Illegal. Yup. » — Reader Dane Elshof wrote me in response to some comments about how they collect water in Bermuda which I made on No Agenda to inform me that in Colorado the practice of even re-using water (you legally cannot recycle your own water) is against the law in Colorado and he suspects (I do too) that this is the case in most states. Meanwhile everyone bitches about droughts, lack of water and do what they can to jack up water rates. Scam, you think?

Colorado Water Law requires that precipitation fall to the ground, run off and into the river of the watershed where it fell. Because rights to water are legally allocated in this state, an individual may not capture and use water to which he/she does not have a right. We must remember also that rain barrels don’t help much in a drought because a drought by its very nature supplies little in the way of snow or rain.

Additionally, any and all water that comes from tap may only be used once. “Denver water customers are not permitted to take their bath or laundry water (commonly referred to as gray water) and dump it on their outdoor plants or garden.” Even if that said water is ecologically-friendly?

  1. Raff says:

    It fell out of the sky over my property, I pay taxes on my property. If I choose to collect it, then its mine. If the government doesn’t want me to collect it, then they need to make it quit falling out of the sky over my property.

  2. Adrienne says:

    The only states in the US where harvesting rainwater for any use is illegal is Colorado and Utah. It has to do with protecting water rights downstream.
    Also know that both states have bills in place to override this law or research if collecting rainwater impedes water supplies downstream.

    A rainwater harvesting system really is just a different form of a detention pond. Eventually, the water is replaced back into the environment either through irrigation or toilet water that is flushed and transferred to the water treatment plant to be cleaned and released back into the environment.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Three states rainwater collection is illegal:

    However, both Utah and Colorado have bills in the senate this year that would make residential rainwater harvesting a legal right.

    Here are related articles:

  4. Jennifer says:

    @Paddy- Colorado is hardly a ‘blue’ state.

  5. Bart says:

    In the Netherlands in the meanwhile dutch inventor Pieter Hoff invented the ‘Waterboxx’

    “The WaterBoxx looks like a plastic, rectangular bucket, with a hole in the centre, allowing the tree to be planted in the soil. The sophistically designed top catches water from condensation at night. Together with the rainwater from rare showers, it is distributed in small doses to the tree inside. Additionally the WaterBoxx prevents water in the top soil layers from evaporating and protects the roots against sun, wind, weeds or rodents. After a year the tree is strong enough to grow by itself and the WaterBoxx can be removed.”

    [Please drop the WWW from URLs as WordPress doesn’t display it properly… plus it’s unnecessary. – ed.]

  6. cranky cat says:

    Yah, I’d just install the barrel, and look forward to the battle with the enforcement twit that tried to cite me…

    impermeable hardscaping, buildings, roofs all prevent “precipitation falling to the ground” — so, what-a-ya-gonna do? make all structures illegal? according to this rule, every inch of hardtop road is illegal… Laughable.

    I’d argue that by delaying the water’s progress for a short time in a barrel before applying it to the garden actually does comply with the rule, i.e.:

    “the water falls to the ground, runs off and into the river of the watershed where it fell.”

    but it also mitigates some of the erosion issues arising from unnaturally fast run-off from buildings, concrete roads and other impermeable ground covers…

    And you bet’cha there’d be press at the stupid municipal hearing… and as many agriculture professors as I could drum up.

  7. cranky cat says:

    thought you guys might like the Texas rainwater development site…

    Tx gives awards to particularly innovative rainwater collection systems… including this commercial system which was so efficient that during the dry summer of 2008, they covered all toilet flushing water simply by recovering air conditioner condensate…

    [Please drop the WWW from URLs as WordPress doesn’t display it properly… plus it’s unnecessary. – ed.]

  8. Suitor says:

    Listen up people. There is always a way to skin a cat without getting caught.
    You don’t tell your friends, no matter how long you have been friends. Because a 20 year friendship today, is gone tomorrow.
    Say nothing to anyone. Ever.
    Collecting rain water is very easy. And consider distributing the water if collecting it is an issue.
    Please do not let the insane laws of this Nation drag you into the poor house.
    Get creative. Read-read-read. There is endless ways to live without breaking the bank. Or letting the bank break you.
    Ya’ll be cool now.

  9. s256 says:

    This law is insane and ridiculous. It fails the “stupid law” test and thus should be broken by everyone.

  10. James says:

    I have to ask; if the average home uses around 20,000 gallons, how much difference is a 40 gallon rain barrel – during the rainy season – really going to make?

  11. Ava says:

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  12. Gene says:

    I trust you’ll find out why.


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