Rain barrel ban debate rekindled at State Capitol

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DENVER -- It is a law most people don’t know exists. In Colorado, unlike almost every other state in the country, it is illegal to collect the rain that falls from the sky into a rain barrel.

“It is ridiculous,” said Karen Webster, a Denver resident who proudly defies the state law. “Rain is free. It doesn’t have to be processed by the municipal water system."

Webster uses a 70-plus-gallon barrel to collect water that falls from her roof. She then uses that water to garden and hydrate her newly installed buffalo grass.

“All of this water lands on our yard. It’s going to eventually run into the alley. I’m just controlling when,” Webster said.

Webster is one of several Denver residents who supports a bill at the General Assembly that is scheduled to be heard in committee on Monday.

The bill would permit Coloradans to use no more than two rain barrels collecting a maximum of 110 gallons of rainwater.

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“In my opinion, the bill is really straightforward. It allows you collect the rain that falls on your roof then maybe put it on your garden a little later,” said Rep. Jesse Danielson, a Democrat who is sponsoring the bill.

A similar measure was introduced last year but failed after some Republican senators expressed concern that collecting rainwater could deplete the water supply of rivers downstream and for the rural residents who rely on them.