Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Collecting Rainwater Illegal in Utah, what about in your state?

image It doesn’t rain very much in the desert, but when it does it rains a lot. This causes a unique problem

with run-off and flash-flooding. Parched ground isn’t used to holding water which quickly forms rivulets and washes away what little topsoil was available into a huge, muddy mess.

Using rain barrels or cisterns was common practice in the days before municipal and commercial irrigation systems. It’s ecologically sound, it’s cheap, and it lessens the load on storm sewers.

Let’s look at that for a minute. In the city that all new development is required to have a “catchment basin” to collect rainwater and runoff in a sort of “dry lake” that slowly feeds into the storm sewer. This then feeds into the city pond with is then pumped under pressure back through the secondary water (irrigation lines) back to the residents and businesses. The residents and businesses must pay the city a monthly usage fee for this connection — even if they don’t use it.

The point of interest here is that residents and businesses could install rain barrels or cisterns that collect rainwater from their roof and/or parking lot, funnel it off for storage, then use it during dry days to water plants and lawns. Doing so would reduce their need (if planned properly may even eliminate the need) for commercial or municipal water for their grounds. What’s wrong with that? It would reduce the load on distribution infrastructure (pipes in the ground and elevated tanks and/or pumps to pressurize it), maintenance of the same, and storage capacity from the commercial/municipal water provider.

The problem is that some municipalities and/or states make claim on the rainwater that falls on your property; they “own” the rain, or so they say. Such is the case in Seattle, and parts of New Mexico and Colorado (to name a few).

If I collect rainwater in a barrel that means I’d be stealing from the state. But what about my lawn and flower beds? They absorb some of the water before it runs off into the rain gutter, so if my lawn breaking the law? Do I need to put a big tarp over my house and direct all the rainwater into the gutter for fear of prosecution? Absurd, right?

If the rain belongs to the State, it’s effectively the property of the State. In that case is the State liable for damages caused by their property such as water damage and flooding? If they’re not liable for damages caused by their property, is it right that they hold you liable for damages caused by your property?

Make sure your neighborhood association, city, county, municipality, and state don’t have an absurd policy like this. What’s next? Claiming they own the sunshine that falls on your roof?

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2 Responses

  1. I didn’t know watering a garden uses so much water. An average size garden can drink up to 200 litres or 52 gallons, every watering! That’s why rain barrels are such a great product and an environmentally friendly way to make a positive impact.

  2. Sue says:

    I agree that some of the laws are a bit whacky. We have several rain barrels we made from kits that we bought from

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