Until this year, there were three Western states where it was illegal to have a rain barrel in your back yard: Washington, Utah, and Colorado. A change to local laws means we can scratch the latter off the list!
According to a Sunday New York Times article:
The two Colorado laws allow perhaps a quarter-million residents with private wells to begin rainwater harvesting, as well as the setting up of a pilot program for larger scale rain-catching.
Before this legislation passed, buying a rain barrel was a lot like visiting a head shop. You could purchase one, but make sure you don’t talk about what it’s for! While the old law was rarely enforced, folks can now purchase, set up, and use their rain barrels on the up and up.
Why Water Laws?
A commenter on a previous post here about water rights in the West explained:
The reason behind this is that some water right holders depend on the water from seasonal creeks that are only active for brief periods of the year (aka spring) and theoretically stopping the rain from entering the stream by “diverting” the water takes away water from the downstream rights holder.
But this is very nonsensical within city limits where everything is paved and gutters everywhere…
However, a 2007 study found that the law’s logic was a little faulty. After studying precipitation near the Denver area, researchers found that 97% of the water did not make it to streams. Most of it was taken up by plants or just evaporated.
I’m glad to see Colorado coming around! The same commenter from above mentioned that they were considering a similar change to the laws in Utah. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!