Rainwater Illegal to Collect in Oregon

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by HankD, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. HankD

    HankD
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    Say What!?

    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/oregon-man-sentenced-30-days-jail-collecting-rainwater-his-property

    Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


    What's next? A fee for sunshine?

    HankD
     
  2. Sapper Woody

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    As absurd as that sounds, I wonder if people had the same thoughts when the income tax was introduced? "A fee to work? What's next? A fee on rainwater?"
     
  3. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    Evidently even WA has some of these laws:

    "...You may not be aware of this, but many Western states, including Utah, Washington and Colorado, have long outlawed individuals from collecting rainwater on their own properties because, according to officials, that rain belongs to someone else.

    As bizarre as it sounds, laws restricting property owners from "diverting" water that falls on their own homes and land have been on the books for quite some time in many Western states. Only recently, as droughts and renewed interest in water conservation methods have become more common, have individuals and business owners started butting heads with law enforcement over the practice of collecting rainwater for personal use."
    http://www.naturalnews.com/029286_rainwater_collection_water.html

    I'd be in trouble if I lived out there. My well went dry during the drought of 1988, and after a significant amount of research I opted to build an 11,000 gallon cistern that collects rainwater from my house. Works like a charm, we basically live like 'city people'. The key is having one large enough to store enough water to get you through extended dry spells (like we've had this year).

    Are cisterns commonly in use out west?
     
    #3 kyredneck, Jul 29, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2012
  4. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    This situation is based on who owns water rights to the land his house is built on. His reservoirs would keep down stream landowners from accessing water they have rights to.

    It's a hundred+ year old situation.

    The various states are just enforcing water rights.

    So, it's not all that absurd. If the person in question had contacted the others with rights to the water being collected to ensure the proper distribution, he probably wouldn't be in so much trouble. As it is, he's stealing water belonging to someone else.

    If he had contacted the others with rights to the water in the reservoir, he probably wouldn't be in so much trouble. As it stands, he's stealing water. It's a Western thing.

     
    #4 Squire Robertsson, Jul 29, 2012
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  5. targus

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    No doubt I will take flak for this...

    The article says, "... Harrington constructed dams to block a tributary to the Big Butte, which Medford uses for its water supply."

    Constructing dams across trubutaries is more than simply "collecting rain water".
     
  6. Jerome

    Jerome
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    Prior-Appropriation Water Rights

    "a system of allocating water rights from a water source that is markedly different from riparian water rights. Water law in the western United States generally follows the appropriation doctrine. . . .the general principle is that water rights are unconnected to land ownership, and can be sold or mortgaged like other property. The first person to use a quantity of water from a water source for a beneficial use has the right to continue to use that quantity of water for that purpose. Subsequent users can use the remaining water for their own beneficial purposes provided that they do not impinge on the rights of previous users."
     
  7. Squire Robertsson

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    Now this is a major NO, NO out here in the West.
     
  8. billwald

    billwald
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    The western states have been fighting over water rights for 100 or more years. The laws are very specific but generally ignored in trivial matters.

    In WA it is illegal to collect the rain water off your roof in some areas.

    A friend owns vineyard with water rights. If he doesn't use his allotment every year he can lose it.
     
  9. HankD

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    That's crazy here in NW WA (my current residence), the rain capital of the US (except for Hawaii).
    We have the only real rain forest in the continental US (the Hoh forest in the Olympic National Park).

    http://www.google.com/search?q=the+...gIcrhqgGv8oH4AQ&ved=0CF8QsAQ&biw=1220&bih=629


    I have puddle holes here on my property.

    They swell to miniature lakes in the winter when it rains 24/7 (well almost) for several months.
    My chickens make use of the water, drink it and use it to make me eggs.
    Many of my neighbors have a similar situation with their properties and the animals they raise.

    To muddle the issue even more one of my "rain puddles" has a natural spring.

    Also, there is a "rain creek" flowing through several properties here in my area of the woods which my neigbors horses drink from.

    So if its true here in WA, many people are therefore breaking the law because of the use of rain water.
    I have never heard of such a law here but it wouldn't surprise me.

    Apparently it's not enforced.

    HankD
     
    #9 HankD, Jul 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012
  10. Squire Robertsson

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    Remember, the "Coast" is water rich. Think in terms of folks living in and east of Kittitas County.
     
  11. kyredneck

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    Wow, one big cistern:

    ".....In 1927..... the City of Houston built its first underground drinking-water reservoir - a concrete holding tank roughly the size of one and half football fields on Sabine Street, near Buffalo Bayou. But after decades of service, the reservoir sprang a leak that couldn't be found, much less stopped. So the reservoir was drained, and for years it sat unused: just an odd hill topped with hatches behind a Public Works building....."

    http://www.chron.com/life/gray/article/Gray-Buffalo-Bayou-s-dark-secret-2736594.php#photo-2183012 (includes photos)
     
  12. Gina B

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  13. Crabtownboy

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    I wonder if cisterns is included as illegal collection of rain water. All the water used by my mom and dad ... by all of us when I was a kid came from a cistern filled by rain water from the roof of the house.

    Next Oregon may tax air claiming the state owns all the air.
     
  14. Gina B

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    Yes, in some places it is illegal to collect the water coming off your roof.
     
  15. Crabtownboy

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    I guess we and a lot of other people in the area where I grew up would go very thirsty. This was in the Shenandoah Valley and no one had water from a utility. Everyone either had a cistern or a spring and a few had a well. There are still folks there who have only cisterns.

    Thinking of a spring I guess we could have used a spring on the farm ... but it was a pretty long walk.
     
  16. HankD

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  17. carpro

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    Stock tanks to gather runoff dot the landscape in Texas. Without them, livestock would suffer in dry weather.

    It's a ridiculous law.
     
  18. Squire Robertsson

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    It's not ridiculous when folks downstream rely on the water that comes down to their property. Remember, people, laws like this one were passed in the 1800s.Much of the West is semi-arid. So, water and rights to water are a matter of survival. My grandmother's family had a homestead in Wyoming nobody could live on because it didn't have any water rights.

    For those in coal country, think of water rights being handled much like coal and mineral rights.
     
  19. HankD

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    But rain?
    Especially in NW WA?
    Seems odd.

    HankD​
     
  20. carpro

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    True enough, but for comparison purposes:

    That section of Oregon averages almost 19" of rain annually.

    Amarillo, TX averages 19".

    Yet stock tanks to collect rainwater runoff are not only allowed , but encouraged around Amarillo.
     

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