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Who owns rain? Does saving rainwater violate state law?

Posted by keelynet on July 26, 2008

I never thought about this before so was greatly surprised to find there were laws against collecting what falls on your OWN property.

“Technically, rain that falls on your roof isn’t yours for the taking. It’s a resource of the state, which regulates the use of public waters through an allocation process that can take years to navigate. The state has long allowed people to collect a small amount of rain without asking. Although no one wants to police homeowners harvesting a few hundred gallons for a backyard garden, the state hasn’t defined where that regulatory threshold lies. Someone collecting rain in larger quantities to irrigate a farm or wash laundry in a new condo building without a state water right could be breaking the rarely enforced law. “We’re not going to start issuing permits for a pickle barrel in the backyard. But what if it’s four pickle barrels or a system that has 20,000 gallons of storage?” said Brian Walsh, a manager in the Department of Ecology’s water resources program. In urban areas, though, some cities and developers promoting green building practices simply ignored the issue. The rainwater collection system used to flush toilets in Seattle City Hall likely violated state law when it was built five years ago. That’s why the city of Seattle recently obtained a citywide water-right permit, which makes it legal to collect rain from rooftops in most areas of the city. But there still are a few neighborhoods – including most areas north of 85th Street – that aren’t covered. That’s because stormwater there drains into creeks and streams and lakes rather than sewer pipes. Builders there would not enjoy the same legal protection. “Most people just blow it off and nobody’s going to go after them, at least not yet,” said Michael Broili, who designs rainwater-collection systems. “But water is a huge, huge issue that is just below the surface of the radar and in the next … years, especially if global warming becomes a reality, it’s even going to become more of one.” – Source

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One Response to “Who owns rain? Does saving rainwater violate state law?”

  1. What’s next? Charging us for the air we breath in our own homes?

    Water conservation is important but this is really getting too carried away! if they try to control this it would probably take more resources than would even be feasable.

    CQ

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