Collecting Rainwater No longer Illegal in Colorado. Yes, it was Actually a Crime!

rainwater barrel

As many offgriders have found out the hard way, collecting and harvesting rainwater is actually illegal in many parts of the United States – yes, you heard that right, collecting rainwater is actually illegal in many areas of the country. But self-sufficient homesteaders in Colorado can finally legally collect rainwater, after the State of Colorado passed legislation last week legalizing their rain barrels.

“This is a victory for Coloradans who care about their state’s incredible rivers, lakes, streams, and waters. Rain barrels are an important educational tool and a great first step toward conservation and increasing awareness about the water challenges facing Colorado,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director with the nonprofit Conservation Colorado.

Colorado’s first legal rain barrel signed by the governor!

A photo posted by Jessica Goad (@jessica_goad) on

The bill, which will finally allow residents to legally recycle rainwater in a state with a history of drought, passed the full Colorado Senate on April 1 and was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper last week. The new law, which takes effect in August, will allow Colorado homeowners to collect as much as 110 gallons of rain in up to two barrels.

While the law will still limit how much rainwater you can legally store, it is a step in the right direction and is better than states like Oregon where people have actually been arrested and thrown in jail for harvesting rainwater.

Water conservation advocates say this is an important first step  toward water conservation in the West.

“The entire West is facing water challenges with a growing population, limited water supplies, and a changing climate,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, the President of Western Resource Advocates. “We need increased water conservation to help meet these challenges. Someone with a rain barrel develops a better awareness of the water cycle, leading to a needed increased water conservation ethic.” He then pivoted to the state water plan that was adopted late last year: “We look forward to working with state leaders to build on this step and implement our new Colorado Water Plan.”

Still not a Total Win…

While many are calling this a win, it’s important to remember that the government is still dictating how rainwater can be used in the state, and who can harvest it.

Under House Bill 16-1005, rain barrels can only be installed at single-family households and multi-family households with four (4) or fewer units. A maximum of two (2) rain barrels can be used at each household and the combined storage of the 2 rain barrels cannot exceed 110 gallons. Rain barrels can only be used to capture rainwater from rooftop downspouts and the captured rainwater must be used on the same property from which the rainwater was captured, for only outdoor purposes, including to water outdoor lawns, plants and/or gardens. Rain barrel water cannot be used for drinking or other indoor water uses.

12 Comments

  1. Scott R
    May 18, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Now just exactly how do you suppose they are going to enforce those regulations? They can’t watch everybody in the entire state all of the time. Can’t be done.

    • Bernie
      May 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Nope they just pick a couple of people to go after and then the sheep will fall in line. They rule through fear!

  2. Steve Scott
    May 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    To actually point out what happened in Oregon, according to local news, the resident built dams across channels of public water running across his property. He collected 40 acre feet of water (enough to fill 20 Olympic size swimming pools!) and stocked his new reservoirs with ducks, boats and fish for recreational fishing.

    So the folklore began, “it is illegal to collect rain water in Oregon.” Not true. The bottom line is, you must have a water rights permit to use public water in Oregon, but exceptions are in place for the general public to capture rain water in a barrel, bucket, tub or rain gauge. So for most living in Oregon, it is legal to collect rainwater.

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/11/10/is-it-illegal-to-collect-rain-water-in-oregon/

    • Bernie
      May 18, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Leave it to liberal dumbshits in San Francisco to call rainwater the property of the government! The guy in Oregon did nothing wrong, big deal he built a pond on his own land and filled it with rainwater that fell on HIS LAND.

      How sad that we have come to a place in this country where people allow the government to tell them that they have no right to water that falls out of the sky on to their land. And equally sad that people like Steve defend the government. Who cares what he did with his land, he bought it he owns it and the rainwater is not the property of the U.S Government no matter how bad the socialist Bernie Sanders supporting jackasses want it to be.

      • Jackson
        May 18, 2016 at 5:00 pm

        Typical Right wing nut / selfish arrogant asshole…HIs land …PUBLIC water. People w your attitude are what’s wrong w the direction of this country. Government Ain’t EVER getting smaller, its gets bigger every year Republican or Democrat. 300+million people need a government that will work for and with the people. Feel the fcking Bern!!

        • bernie's morons
          May 18, 2016 at 5:15 pm

          Have a look at Venezuela jackass and then go get a job hippie! How is socialism going down there with all the people starving and dying on the streets? Funny how you morons go on and on about the evils of government but then are the same morons who want to take every one of our rights away.

          Remember when the left actually supported things like water rights and self-reliant living? funny how they have become worse than the right-wingers that they pretend to hate. The fact is the Bernie people are today’s Nazi/communist party, they are just to stupid to realize they are the useful idiots that will usher in a 1984 style tyranny.

      • Steve Scott
        May 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm

        I wasn’t defending anything, but simply pointing out the facts. Not even sure where the Bernie Sanders slam comes from, you have no idea who I’m voting for.

        Here’s an interesting topic that should be addressed by all people who believe a man is king in his own property, as I BELIEVE. The question is how far does it go? Suppose a creek runs through a man’s property and downstream 30 people are dependent on that creek. Does he have the right to dam it up because he’s upstream? And they are just SOL? That’d be an interesting debate here. The man was changing the surrounding ecological system by altering his own yard. How far does that go? I’m not advocating any side, just posing the question.

  3. I am optimistic that soon will come a day when today’s young people will tell their children or grandchildren about the time in America when America was run by ZioCommie oppressors. Who were so evil that they actually forbid the people from collecting rainwater.

  4. Ed
    June 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    I totally agree with you Steve, people should be able to collect the rain that runs off their roofs and use it for what ever needs they may personally have, but they shouldn’t be able to hog all the water running off their land to the detriment of their neighbors down stream. The law needs to find a fair balance for both sides, and sometimes it’s not easy.

  5. ann marie
    July 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    in our city, collection of rainwater requires a permit — you have to attend a class where you are taught about the dangers of the roofing material chemicals leeching into the rain barrel water. extensive filtering needed to make it safe for use other than watering landscape.

  6. Derick
    October 5, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Amazing! I think the fact that collecting rainwater is illegal in some states is a crime in itself! There are some really crazy laws on the books but Colorado has the right idea in a lot of situations. Hopefully the rest of the country follows suit – there’s NO reason for it to be illegal. Rainwater is a natural human right. Collecting it should be too.

  7. Andrew Mooers
    October 27, 2016 at 4:05 am

    Have gutters on the old farm house that collect rain water, dump and store it in a cistern in the cellar. Nothing better than soft rain water to help run the Maine farm!

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