By November 14, 2015 21 Comments Read More →

Government Criminalizing Rainwater Collection in All Out War on Self Sufficiency

Rainwater BucketPhillip Schneider, Staff
Waking Times

Collecting rainwater is classically seen as a safe and sustainable way of supplying your household with an off-the-grid water supply. Some people collect rainwater only for a backup reservoir, while others prefer to go all the way and maintain their household with pure off-the-grid rainwater collection. This method ensures water during emergencies, can help control floods, saves money and liberates us from company-dependence for our water.

Consequently, this freedom to collect our own rainwater is currently under attack. State laws have been set up in several U.S. States including Oregon, Utah, California, Florida, Colorado and Washington that prohibit the collection, or “diversion” of rainwater, including water that is falling on your own property and is to be used for your own private use or as an environmental conservation technique.

This idea of state-owned rainwater is opposed both by environmentalists on the left, and libertarians and constitutionalists on the right, and even historical figures such as Chief Seattle when he allegedly said during his 1854 oration to the European colonists “how can you own the rain?” Supporters are mainly governments and collectivists who tend to lean toward ideologies that sacrifice individual liberties.

Although it seems commonsense that the water that falls on your own property would of course belong to you, state governments increasingly challenge that idea with legislation demanding that your water doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to them, they say, and if you want to use “their” water then you first have to obtain a “Water Right” – and if you are denied this right, the water that falls on your own property (even if you need it) will be illegal to use – you will be thrown in jail or fined for the use of that water. You are now a Water Criminal.

Take for example the story of Gary Harrington, an Oregon man who had three ponds, or what the Oregon State Water Managers called “three illegal reservoirs” of water on his more than 170 acres of land. Harrington was reportedly sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1,500 for having these “illegal reservoirs” on his property. The state claims that he is “diverting” water from Big Butte Creek, but he argues that he was only collecting the rainwater that falls on his own property, which later falls into to the creek.

CNS News reports:

“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.

This issue is not isolated and it’s happening more than ever. Increasingly, people are being banned from all kinds of off-the-grid activities such as camping on their own property or heating your home with wood. Residents of Colorado, Florida and California have all had similar experiences to Harrington. Robin Rutan, an off-the-grid resident, reportedly told Colorado Public Radio “We’ve been regulated out of life” and that “I came here because I couldn’t live by the codes [in other regions].”

Another Colorado resident said “We are residents who have come to live off the grid. It’s all our land…These are harsh economic times. We have nowhere to go”. Residents of California are having increasingly harder time due to these “water laws” in wake of the drought that is taking place there.

Many people of the world still utilize rainwater as a major water source, such as the people of Singapore (28 to 33% of total water used), Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Hawaii and more. A Colorado study reveals that “With rainwater harvesting, outdoor water demand is reduced by approximately 65% with moderate conservation and approximately 88% with water wise conservation.” showing that collecting rainwater helps the environment through conservation and reduces dependency on company water.

Read more articles from Phillip Schneider.

About the Author

Phillip Schneider is a student and a contributing author to Waking Times.


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This article (Government Criminalizing Rainwater Collection in All Out War on Self Sufficiency) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Phiillip Schneider and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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  • sharonsj

    There is a huge difference between collecting rainwater in a barrel and Harrington building three massive fish ponds holding 13 million gallons of water. The headline is misleading.

  • sad4us

    I’m not sure how that works when 3 years ago it was absolutely illegal to collect rain water in Utah. They must have come to their senses and changed some laws somewhere.

  • derfelcadarn

    Perhaps, people will finally realize that government is a parasite that is going to kill them.

  • PaulfromTexas

    Texas’ Constitution took care of such nonsense by political fools……

  • bsroon

    Not to mention the fact that when you slow water down by a series of small check dams, that water increases the acquifer, which gives the state more water. In my California – the state is the LAST person you want controlling water.
    After they drastically cut Ag allowances starting in 2008 – prior to the drought, folks – they still allowed fracking. Now fracking takes TWO MILLION GALLONS OF GOOD WATER PER FRACKING WELL to pump over 500 toxic chemicals into the groundwater.

    So – the state gave or sold SOMEONE’S water (it is all sold already) to frackers, who used BILLIONS OF GALLONS OF GOOD WATER TO CONTAMINATE AND MAKE UNKNOWN TRILLIONS OF GALLONS OF WATER UNUSABLE AND TOXIC!!!

    And THEY want to pretend they have ANY right to monitor/regulate my water usage? They can kiss my patoot!

  • Unbelievable

    So much stirring of the pot here that is unnecessary and counter productive. All rain water falls on existing living systems. Creeks, meadows, swales, hillocks, berms, ponds and waterways. When one man obstructs the flow of rainwater on the land it impacts everyone. If we collect and ‘ground’ rainwater it increases the water table and can do good for us and others – if we divert it and sequester it or alter it it can do less than good – all water runs down hill – slow it – don’t ‘stop’ it and you do what permaculture does – slow the movement of the water across and in the landscape, thereby helping everyone along the way – 😉

    Government is usually boorish and stupid, but not always – and portraying all things as either black or white is just silly. Getting the permit to build ponds and do things on your propery in Oregon takes time, but it is do-able. Let’s focus and STOP NESTLE from stealing our amazing Oregon water and stop bickering about the fact that it can take a year to get a permit to build a pond. If they do their job right, my pond will not impact the local stream system – (it won’t) and I’m OK with taking the time and expnse to do it right.

    Not all regulation is EVIL. We need to take care adn protect local eco systems – not just scream about our ‘rights’. Our rights to what? Screw everyone else out of the water they need because we are empowered to ‘harvest’ our rain water above everyone else? Seriously get a clue, okay? Because you don’t seem to have one. Rain water is a natural resource that belongs to EVERYONE upon whom it falls. Not just the few who decide to ‘harvest’ it. Cooperation is an idea whose time has come.

    • Opinionated12cents

      The socialist view.

  • Jodie Fraser

    how can they own the rain when it evaporates from one place and rains on the other.. are they going to tax the air we breathe too?

    • walcon

      “are they going to tax the air we breathe too?..”
      They already do.

      • Eileen Kuch

        Now, that’s absolutely ridiculous .. there’s no way whatsoever that rain water and/or the air we all breathe can be taxed or criminalized .. neither can ever be enforced .. thus, this is all nothing more than a NWO wet dream that can never materialize.

    • sad4us

      If they can find a way they certainly will!

  • Karen Peters

    Just to set the record straight, Mr Harrington was doing more than just collecting rain water on his property. He had built several dams on the Big Butte Creek that diverted the water from the water shed to his 3 reservoirs. These 3 reservoirs contained over 1 million gallons of water stocked with trout and other fish. They also had swimming areas and boat docks for recreational use. The water he diverted for his own recreation use was water that flowed into the watersheds that supplies water to Medford and other towns in that area. It is one thing to collect rain water for your personal use on you property, but to divert it for your own personal recreational facility is wrong when you are diverting water from others.

    • bsroon

      i saw aerial photos of that property and didn’t see creek check dams, etc.

      If he did indeed gather rainfall into those ponds (and what’s the problem with putting fish in them? Swimming?) that rain added to your acquifer. You ended up with a net gain.

      In the Sonora Desert – right at the Mexican/Arizone border – some retired NY City people own several ranches. The typical weather system there is called “Monsoons” and you can literally have 80% or more of your annual rainfall come in a two minute cloudburst. These are EXTREMELY heavy rains, and wash out arroyos, soil, and the seeds that should grow there. These people put some tiny rows of rocks upstream and downstream from where they drove across one of their gullies. The plants grew MONTHS LONGER above and below those rocks. So they put in MORE.

      Being retired rich people, they investigated and found that ancient aboriginals had dammed all the watersheds from the top down – and they hired people to replicate that. They now have thousands of small dams all over their property, starting from the tops of the watersheds.

      EVERYONE ELSE in that region has their Monsoon rain – and that is the only time you see water running above the ground. These people have rain running above ground TEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR now. So, get off our case all you states and control ijjuts – THIS is what needs to be done to drought proof our lands. After all, when the water is held, the plants can grow. When the plants grow, it will end up in trees, when the trees grow – forests make rain.

    • Harold4321

      You must be from the government.

      • SonsofAnarchy5768

        Where is YOUR proof of what you claim, either bring the proof or shut up!

  • Do not drink rain water. It’s poisoned with radioactive particles from the Fuk-Us-hima arial discharges, barium and aluminum from chemtrails and jet fuel additives.

    • toodorky

      The choices are now getting very slim , aren’t they? At least a few people like you are aware of the ramifications of Fukushima…..

      • It is pretty amazing that they have been able to keep how bad fukushima radiation is under wraps for so long. Just shows how good the media is at keeping the vast majority in the dark about things that matter by bombarding us with stories that only propagandize for their goals.

      • SonsofAnarchy5768

        On one hand true but he thinks you shouldn’t drink rain water but water from a spring, do you think it doesn’t have all that same stuff in it? He seems a bit delusional

        • Opinionated12cents

          You need to study up a bit on water, sources etc. before you reveal your ignorance.

  • Pete

    Isn’t time we told the idiots where to take their bullshit! If they think they own the rain, somebody ought to punch the living daylights of those psychopaths. Don’t get me wrong, I am no violent person by any stretch of the imagination, but there comes a time that serious action needs to be taken to show those morons where to get off! I am getting sick to death of this bullshit! I got an 18000 liter water tank that supply’s our family for all our needs. No restraint on council systems, should they not be happy about another 18000 liters that they don’t have to clean-up, add chlorine to it and in same cases fluoride (at least I don’t have to deal with the fluoride problem) they should be happy that I look after my own water. Are those psychopaths actually thinking?

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