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Water Catchment is Illegal in Colorado PDF Print E-mail

The Los Angeles Times has a story today about "rainwater harvesters" in Colorado who are not allowed to collect rainwater that falls in their own yard, because the water rights belong to farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies:

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.

Holstrom, director of sustainability for Telluride, and her husband, John, have lived on their farm since 1988. During the severe drought at the start of this decade, their well began drying up. Placing rain barrels under the gutters was the natural thing to do, said Holstrom, 51.

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.

"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."

Colorado is taking baby steps towards allowing rainwater collection. Two bills being discussed - one allowing rural catchment (Senate Bill 80 which passed the Colorado Senate in February) and the other allowing 10 developments to harvest rainwater (House Bill 1129) are currently in front of the 2009 legislature.

Well, I guess there's another reason to say "lucky we live Hawaii". Here on the Big Island, some have estimated that around 70% of homes are on a water catchment system of some sort. 

Check out the following links for some great information on water catchment:

 Water Catchment

Guidelines on Rainwater Catchment Systems for Hawaii 

Big Island Annual Rainfall Map

HarvestH2O - The Online Rainwater Harvesting Community

International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (IRCSA)






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