Water Wars in Wild West Over Rainwater Catchment

rainwater barrel system photo

Photo via fireballsedai via Flickr CC

Colorado is seeing dust stirred up over water rights and water catchment systems. While homeowners want the ability to catch the moisture from the snow and rain that lands on their roof, others, including Native Americans, want to protect their water rights and access to water by making rainwater catchment a no-go. Rainfall is scant in the west. In California, the drought is daily news. That means groundwater levels in the western states are watched, and water rights guarded jealously. But what if homeowners want to be more independent and capture the rainwater and melting snow from their roofs?

This is where Colorado residents don't see eye to eye, with some homeowners calling out antiquated water rights, while those at the top of the priority list saying that taking rainwater from the roof would mean a fundamental change in how water is distributed.

NPR has the story, and you can listen to the newscast.

The issue is detailed, complex, and one that won't go away. As people in the dry western states - and dry areas everywhere - become more inclined to capture and store rainwater, ecological and political concerns are bound to be raised. Indeed, capturing rainwater is simply illegal in many places. In the meantime, rainwater collection and storage is a primary way to reduce one's dependence on the water table, and rain barrels and systems are growing in popularity.

As NPR reports:

The West remains one of the fastest growing regions of the country, and that continues to put pressure on scarce water supplies. So, Colorado recently made it legal for some homeowners to capture and collect the raindrops and snowflakes that fall on their own roofs...The change in Colorado may seem minor, but this could signal the beginning of a water-law revolution.

More on Rainwater Capture and Storage
5 Great Rain Barrel Designs, Plus Top Tips for Using Them
Stored Rainwater, How to Use it Everyday
Do the Math to See if Rainwater Harvesting is For You
Use Sand Filters to Make Rain Water Drinkable

Related Content on Treehugger.com