‘Colorado should allow rain barrels’

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS

By Max R.Weller

Read the editorial from the Loveland Reporter-Herald copied below in its entirety:

Spring rains may soon be coming, but don’t put out a rain barrel just yet.

The Colorado Legislature is once again considering a bill to allow residents to collect water that falls on their property, but at this point it’s still illegal.

Colorado, like 18 other states, has a doctrine of prior appropriation. Rain that falls belongs to people who long ago claimed it as their own. But Colorado is the only of those states that bans use of rain barrels. Indeed, Colorado is the only state in the nation that bans rainwater collection.

Last year, the legislature considered a bill to change the law and allow rain collection. It passed through the House of Representatives but then expired in the state Senate without a vote.

This year, Democratic Reps. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Daneya Esgar of Pueblo have proposed it again. Their bill faces one more vote in the House before moving to the Senate.

The 2016 bill contains amendments designed to address concerns of farmers and ranchers, two added just Monday. The newest amendments make it clear that rain barrels do not come with water rights and stipulate the state will monitor the impact of the barrels on water rights.

But many farmers and ranchers still express concerns that they will have less water for their own needs if rain barrels are allowed.

Colorado, as it grows in population, faces a looming water crisis.

Supporters of the bill, such as Drew Beckwith of Western Resource Advocates, say that use of rain barrels could remind residents of the importance of conserving water.

Colorado State University researchers have said collecting rainfall would have little impact on downstream users.

They said homeowners would use little of the water that falls on their homes. An average year can drop 8,000 gallons of rain on a home in Northern Colorado. A rain barrel collects about 55 gallons. Up to two rain barrels per home would be allowed under the proposed bill. The proposal would limit use of the water to lawn and garden irrigation, not for drinking.

Indeed, some experts say it makes no more sense to use treated water, as happens now, for outside irrigation than it would to drink untreated water.

Not every homeowner would want to use a rain barrel. Estimates are only 5 percent to 10 percent of homeowners use them in other states.

The bottom line is, as Colorado grows water conservation will be ever more important.

Rainwater collection will be a good start toward that effort, while having minimal effect on downstream use.

Folks in other states (including my home state of Missouri) think it’s a joke, but it’s currently against the law here in Colorado! And believe you me — there is no shortage of overbearing bureaucrats who will come around to see if you’re collecting rainwater, and cite you for it if you are.

This needed change in Colorado law might possibly go far in promoting a minimal level of personal hygiene among Rainbow Family members.

Max Weller's photo.

This woman is NOT a Rainbow; note that her armpits are clean-shaven.

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