Check out this news report out of Salt Lake City, Utah, about the issue. It’s illegal in Utah to divert rainwater without a valid water right, and Mark Miller of Mark Miller Toyota, found this out the hard way.
After constructing a large rainwater collection system at his new dealership to use for washing new cars, Miller found out that the project was actually an “unlawful diversion of rainwater.” Even though it makes logical conservation sense to collect rainwater for this type of use since rain is scarce in Utah, it’s still considered a violation of water rights which apparently belong exclusively to Utah’s various government bodies.
“Utah’s the second driest state in the nation. Our laws probably ought to catch up with that,” explained Miller in response to the state’s ridiculous rainwater collection ban.
Salt Lake City officials worked out a compromise with Miller and are now permitting him to use “their” rainwater, but the fact that individuals like Miller don’t actually own the rainwater that falls on their property is a true indicator of what little freedom we actually have here in the U.S. (Access to the rainwater that falls on your own property seems to be a basic right, wouldn’t you agree?)
Outlawing rainwater collection in other states
Utah isn’t the only state with rainwater collection bans, either. Colorado and Washington also have rainwater collection restrictions that limit the free use of rainwater, but these restrictions vary among different areas of the states and legislators have passed some laws to help ease the restrictions.
In Colorado, two new laws were recently passed that exempt certain small-scale rainwater collection systems, like the kind people might install on their homes, from collection restrictions.
Prior to the passage of these laws, Douglas County, Colorado, conducted a study a study on how rainwater collection affects aquifer and groundwater supplies. The study revealed that letting people collect rainwater on their properties actually reduces demand from water facilities and improves conservation.
Personally, I don’t think a study was even necessary to come to this obvious conclusion. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that using rainwater instead of tap water is a smart and useful way to conserve this valuable resource, especially in areas like the West where drought is a major concern.
Additionally, the study revealed that only about three percent of Douglas County’s precipitation ended up in the streams and rivers that are supposedly being robbed from by rainwater collectors. The other 97 percent either evaporated or seeped into the ground to be used by plants.
This hints at why bureaucrats can’t really use the argument that collecting rainwater prevents that water from getting to where it was intended to go. So little of it actually makes it to the final destination that virtually every household could collect many rain barrels worth of rainwater and it would have practically no effect on the amount that ends up in streams and rivers.
As long as people remain unaware and uninformed about important issues, the government will continue to chip away at the freedoms we enjoy. The only reason these water restrictions are finally starting to change for the better is because people started to notice and they worked to do something to reverse the law.
Even though these laws restricting water collection have been on the books for more than 100 years in some cases, they’re slowly being reversed thanks to efforts by citizens who have decided that enough is enough.
Because if we can’t even freely collect the rain that falls all around us, then what, exactly, can we freely do? The rainwater issue highlights a serious overall problem in America today: diminishing freedom and increased government control.
Today, we’ve basically been reprogrammed to think that we need permission from the government to exercise our inalienable rights, when in fact the government is supposed to derive its powerfromus. The American Republic was designed so that government would serve the People to protect and uphold freedom and liberty. But increasingly, our own government is restricting people from their rights to engage in commonsense, fundamental actions such as collecting rainwater or buying raw milk from the farmer next door.
Today, we are living under a government that has slowly siphoned off our freedoms, only to occasionally grant us back a few limited ones under the pretense that they’re doing us a benevolent favor.