Collecting rain could soon become legal in Colorado |

Collecting rain could soon become legal in Colorado

Alli Langley
rainwater deposit
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

Colorado is the only state in the U.S. where collecting water in rain barrels is illegal, but that ban could soon be lifted.

The Colorado House voted to end backyard rain-barrel ban after approving a bill that would allow homeowners to collect up to 110 gallons.

Colorado’s rain-barrel ban is little known and widely flouted, with rain barrels for sale at many home-gardening stores and commonly used by home gardeners.

The use of the barrels to collect rain technically violates Colorado water law, or the prior appropriation doctrine established in early mining days in the West.

The ban was amended in 2009 to allow rain barrel use by people with private wells, but the change didn’t apply to people who receive water from municipalities.

The House approved the rain-barrel bill 45-20, sending it to the Senate.

Pete Maysmith, executive director of the advocacy organization Conservation Colorado, supported the bill, which would allow Coloradans to collect limited amounts of water for gardening and other applications.

“The common sense legislation will serve as an easy tool to raise awareness of Colorado’s unique water challenges and the need for strong water conservation policies,” he said.

Learn about water law in Frisco

The Middle Park Conservation District, Summit County CSU Extension and Blue River Watershed Group are collaborating to host a water law seminar called “Water Law in a Nutshell.”

Aaron Clay, an attorney who was a water referee for the Colorado Water Court, Division 4, for 26 years, will present at the all-day seminar to be held Friday, April 10, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The seminar will be at the Summit County Commons in Frisco and will include discussions on appropriation, perfection, use, abandonment and enforcement of various types of water rights and ditch rights. Further discussion may also include special rules for groundwater, public rights in appropriated water and federal/interstate compacts.

The cost of the seminar is $50 and will include lunch.

Everyone is welcome, including landowners, real estate agents, water district employees and the public. To register, contact Katlin, with the Middle Park Conservation District, at (970) 531-0127 or to sign up.

Polis’ Grand County conservation bill passes committee

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis’ bill to protect the “Wedge,” a parcel of land between Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest, swiftly passed the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent Thursday. The Boulder Democrat is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015, would incorporate 10 parcels of land into the Arapaho National Forest, enabling the Forest Service to protect an area that serves millions annually as they travel west along the Trail Ridge scenic byway from the 13,000-foot apex of the Rocky Mountains to the town of Grand Lake.

“The Wedge is among one of Colorado’s most unique and beautiful open spaces — serving not only locals and visitors to the area, but an impressive array of plants, animals and water resources,” Polis said. “Developing it would be detrimental to the health and economic value of protected lands on both sides. The WEDGE Act will ensure the area is protected from such development while addressing repeated community requests that we correct this boundary oversight.”

The Forest Service owns seven of the 10 lots that comprise the “wedge,” but the national forest boundary has never been adjusted to include the parcels, as doing so requires legislative action. A full House vote on the legislation is expected soon.

This bill was supported by Grand County, the town of Grand Lake, the Headwaters Trails Alliance, Conservation Colorado and the affected private landowners.

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