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Rain Barrel Rules

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rain barrels,rainwater harvesting,water conservation

Rain barrels are a great way to save money and help reduce reliance on public water systems, but it pays to know the law of the land when it comes to rain harvesting.

Thanks to recent legislation, the current law in most states reflects a fair amount of freedom for homeowners to collect rainwater and use it to supplement their normal usage, but it wasn’t always that way. It may surprise you to know it, but water law is no joke: After all, it really is the most valuable resource on the planet.

Illegal Diversion   

Water law in many states favors the “downstream user” and anyone who interferes with water flow to this person can be charged with creating an illegal diversion of water. In a nutshell, this is what made rain barrels illegal in Colorado until 2009. The thinking was, if person A catches and uses water that would naturally flow to person B, then A is interfering with B’s water rights.

Pretty wild, eh?

And, here’s the important thing: You can still get in trouble for this today if you divert too much water. In 2008, a car dealership owner in Utah faced a violation after he constructed a rainwater collection system to catch water for washing cars on his lot.

Health Concerns

The other reason states feel it’s necessary to interfere with the collection of free water that falls from the sky is that it may not always be potable, or safe to drink. The assumption is that if it hasn’t touched the ground yet then it’s clean, and for the most part that’s true. The problem is that people are not always the most sanitary when it comes to collection and the question becomes what is easier to regulate – clean collection methods or the collection itself.

Again, these days collection is deemed legal (within reason), but it still pays to be cautious about drinking rainwater that hasn’t been filtered or boiled … or both.

Current Law

There are currently 12 states (plus the U.S. Virgin Islands) with rainwater harvesting legislation on the books and seven others with laws pending, and you can find more information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures here.

ATGStores.com invites you to share other water conservation techniques besides rainwater harvesting as well as your strategies for deploying rain barrels.

The "Rock Fountain Collector" from RTS Home Accents features a 34-gallon capacity, two threaded spigots and an overflow slot that creates a tranquil waterfall. 

Exaco Trading's "ECO 65" rain barrel is crafted of Torrified red pine and maple, which makes for a lighter and warp-proof design.

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