New rainwater rules don’t apply to most gardeners

Placing plants near downspouts is one way to take advantage of rainwater before it runs off your property.

rainwater-tip1-blogThe new law allowing rainwater collection in Colorado doesn’t apply to most gardeners. If you get your water from a municipality or water district, you still can’t collect rainwater.

Colorado water law is confusing, but it boils down to this: the rainwater that falls on your property doesn’t belong to you. In our state that water is considered part of the tributary to a natural stream and should be allowed to runoff.

Senate Bill 09-080 was signed by Governor Ritter during this legislative session and it allows only limited collection of rainwater to a limited number of property owners meeting set criteria pertaining to a well on the property. A list of the rules is available at Rainwater Collection in Colorado.

Homeowners who don’t fit all of the criteria are not allowed to divert and hold rainwater on their property.

However, gardeners can use site design principles to slow the flow of rainwater to water plants as it leaves the property. Simple techniques include creating shallow channels, building berms,  and digging basins. Xeriscaping is also a good way to make the most of rainwater in your garden.

The new rainwater collection law acknowledges that the Colorado legislature is aware of the need to find new water conservation approaches. But the day most of us can legally use a rainbarrel is still a long way off.

Care to share your thoughts of rainwater harvesting in Colorado? Please post them here.


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Thank you for sharing this information about rainwater—there’s a misconception (at least with myself and my friends and neighbors) that one’s right to collect or inability to collect rainwater is based on local laws (i.e., Denver, Aurora, Highslands Ranch, etc.); I had know idea it was a state law. Also thanks for providing a link to the Colorado Rain Water Bill PDF.

Though isn’t it curious, even if we as gardeners (or homeowners) were to collect rainwater for watering our landscapes wouldn’t the water still ultimately be returned to the water table or natural waterways that wouldn’t impact the water rights of others? Particularly since collecting rainwater in a barrel is so minimal to the overall downpour of a typical Colorado rain shower—most of the runoff would end up in the nature waterways anyway.

Glad to be of service–I know how confusing the rainwater issue can be.

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