All these years we’ve been capturing illegal Colorado rainwater here at the homestead, and it turns out that, just last year, Colorado water law reversed itself on this issue.
That’s right, home gardeners and flower lovers, now you can capture and beneficially use any drop of rain that falls on your property without fear of being hauled off to jail! (But please see the fine print below.)
As High Country News explained recently:
“…last year's House Bill 1129 authorized large-scale rainwater harvesting test projects like Sterling and loosening restrictions on individual collection of rainwater. Well owners, for example, can now legally harvest their rain for personal use. We non-well-owning proletarians (and by extension, basically everyone living in a city) are still operating outside the law if we fill a rain barrel, though.
Despite the changes, the original law was hardly enforced on individuals back when rain was contraband. It seems intuitive that the people inclined to harvest their own rainwater for personal use would be little-impeded by a badly made, artifact of a policy.”
The rationale for the change rests on a 2007 study that revealed how little water (3%) actually makes it into the stream systems, the remaining 97% being lost to evaporation or put to beneficial use by plants. Probably any ecologist could have told them that years ago.
Does it make a difference? It's amazing how much water a modest roof can produce from a 10-minute Colorado dust-settling rain that doesn't even get the soil wet. My substantial collection of house plants gets watered most of the year from harvested rainwater. Even in much of the winter, the effective snowmelt cycle makes it possible to use the rainbarrels, except when they turn into 55 gallon icecubes.
Of course, we rainbarrel lovers still have to deal with rampant mosquito larvae and the occasional drowned mouse (today’s find) in the rainbarrel. And, equally obvious, it has to rain now and then for this system to work.
And it doesn’t protect your cherished home-grown heirloom tomatoes (which will cost more than $3 each, we calculate, assuming we get any) from the depredations of passing deer (for the second time this season).
Photo from the Why I Don't Garden series.