Thursday, June 18, 2009

That rain on your property belongs to ME!!!

I found this to be interesting and kind of ridiculous. Being that I one day would love to move to Colorado, I’m very interested in neighborhoods there as well as local laws, schools, and the people. While reading some things, I came across a very very absurd law that I felt the need to share.

Knowing that I’m making efforts to turn green (especially once we are able to buy a house) this is very near and dear to me.

Colorado water law declares that the state of Colorado claims the right to all moisture in the atmosphere that falls within its borders and that “said moisture is declared to be the property of the people of this state, dedicated to their use pursuant” to the Colorado constitution. Basically to this constitution water must be appropriated according to the priority of appropriation. Because of this, in much of that state, it is ILLEGAL to divert water (including collecting them in rain catchers & water barrels for residential use).

A new law was passed during this year (2009) which now allows limited collection and use of precipitation for landowners but only if the meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. The property is residential, and
  2. The landowner uses a well or is legally entitled to a well for water supply, and
  3. The well is permitted for domestic uses, and
  4. There is no water supply available in the area from a municipality or water district, and
  5. The rainwater collected is only from the roof, and
  6. The water is used only for those uses allowed by the well permit

What this means is that very few residential properties even qualify for water storage as you must meet ALL criteria above.

Additionally this law has been set in order to protect water rights purchased 100’s of years ago – whether those owners be farmers, ranchers, developers or water agencies. (Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous?)

If you are legally allowed to collect rain water you are only allowed to use it for domestic use such as drinking and washing. You are not allowed to use it to water plants, gardens, or outdoor landscape.

I don’t 100% understand the law because rain harvesting do not catch and absurdly large amount of water in the 1st place. Rain barrels are generally the size of a large barrel garbage can. Additionally most households who collect rain utilize it to feed the gardens and yards, ultimately feeding it back to the earth.

Rain harvesting helps reduce erosion and helps plants grow better. Additionally when watering your garden, it allows you the option of using natural waters rather than municipal chlorinated waters.

In the end, I don’t understand how this can be a bad things. I get that in parts of Colorado, it can get very dry, and thus they want all water in the ground so that it seeps into streams that later fill reservoirs for municipal use. This however doesn’t seem to make sense to me. If that is the case, wouldn’t much of the rainfall evaporate or be absorbed by soil and plant life before even reaching the stream? Additionally, wouldn’t allow those particular households to utilize less municipal water and therefore allowing the municipal water to go to households unable or unwilling to harvest water.

They now come in many different designs - some that are clearly rain catchers and others which can be disguised in your yard. This is one of the many earth friendly products I was hoping to purchase for my home in the future.

There are also many other items I'd like to incorporate in my home.

Energy Star efficient appliances
(I am currently avoiding installing our hand me down AC as it is not energy star certified)

Recycled and reclaimed tiles for our kitchens, baths and floors
All CFL bulbs

Bamboo wood floors - a more sustainable wood
Solar panels to harvest solar energy
A Composter to reduce my organic waste

And I would like to hang dry my laundry when I can and of course reduce my waste by purchasing less and buying smarter.

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