District News Articles

  2. It is now legal in Colorado - with a few limitations – for homeowners to collect precipitation into rain barrels. House Bill 1005 was signed by Governor Hickenlooper on May 12, permitting “small-capacity rooftop collection.” Under it, people will be able to collect up to 110 gallons of rainfall, in no more than two barrels, from the rooftop of a single-family dwelling, or from multi-family homes of no more than four units is to take effect on August 10, 2016. Legislation with similar goals was proposed in the past, but fell to concerns that collecting rainwater negatively affects water rights.


    This year, Democrats made compromises that Republicans wanted: acknowledging state water law and giving the state engineer's office regulatory authority. The compromises were supported by former opponents, such as the Colorado Farm Bureau, who were concerned about the impact on downstream users who hold expensive water rights.


    “It was generally understood by all parties that (rain barrels) are probably going to have a pretty small effect,” said Kevin Rein, deputy state engineer for the Division of Water Resources. It is not specifically illegal to have a rain barrel, but senior water rights have to be satisfied; otherwise, water cannot be diverted and stored by others, and the division engineer has to curtail such diversions when there is a call for senior water rights. This is from where the current legal limitation on storing water in rain barrels comes, Rein said. House Bill 1005 requires the collected precipitation to be used for outdoor purposes, such as watering lawns or gardens. The collected water must be used on the property upon which it was collected. It cannot be used for drinking water or for indoor household purposes. Also, the state engineer can curtail rain barrel usage, if necessary.