A Thirsty Colorado Is Battling Over Who Owns Raindrops
J Thoendell stashed this in California
When Jason Story bought an old soy sauce barrel to collect the rain dripping from his downspout, he figured he had found an environmentally friendly way to water his garden’s beets and spinach. But under the quirks of Western water rules, where raindrops are claimed even as they tumble from the sky, he became a water outlaw.
Water is precious in the arid West, now more than ever as the worst drought in decades bakes fields in California and depletes reservoirs across the region. To encourage conservation, cities and water agencies in California and other states have begun nudging homeowners to use captured rain for their gardens, rather than water from the backyard faucet.
But Colorado is one of the last places in the country where rainwater barrels are still largely illegal because of a complex system of water rights in which nearly every drop is spoken for.