Who Owns Colorado’s Raindrops?

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June 16, 2015

Colorado homeowners who collect rainwater in barrels are technically outlaws, even if the water trickled down from their own roof or gutter.

The state is one of the last places in the country where rainwater barrels are still illegal, the New York Times reports, “because of a complex system of water rights in which nearly every drop is spoken for.”

Conservationists and many homeowners fought for the enactment of a bill with bipartisan support that would allow homeowners to buy two 55-gallon water tanks. Together, these tanks have the capacity to collect about 650 gallons of water annually, enough to satisfy the average American’s water use for a week.

Irrigation officials and some politicians who represent ranchers on the state’s eastern plains saw the amendment to the water barrel law as a threat and violation of property rights and water principles.

Critics of the proposed amendment say that when residents collect water, another part of the state downstream will be depleted of their share.

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