Coloradans allowed to collect rainwater in barrels starting Wednesday

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DENVER – Beginning Wednesday, Colorado residents will be allowed to use rain barrels to collect rainwater.

For years, state laws prohibited the collection of rainwater because of decades-old water rights. Basically, under the old law, collecting rain was considered stealing from others downstream, such as farmers, who have a claim to that water.

But homeowners believe they have a right to divert what moisture falls on their property.

Colorado lawmakers came to a compromise to allow homeowners to collect rainwater in limited amounts beginning Wednesday.

“I was really excited about the opportunity to get [a rain barrel] to conserve water and to use water that isn’t treated,” Denver resident Dede de Percin said.

She already purchased a rain barrel for her front yard, even though the new law hasn’t kicked in yet.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that most of our water does not come from the Front Range. Most of our water comes from the Western Slope, so I think the idea of conserving it and being really careful with it is really important to me,” she said.

It is estimated homeowners will get about 1,200 gallons of water per year through rain barrel collection.

There are some rules that must be followed to collect rainwater:

  • Each single-family home can have up to two rain barrels. The total volume of the barrels on the property cannot exceed 110 gallons.
  • Rain can only be harvested from the home’s downspout. The downspout must be directed into the rain barrel.
  • Water collected in a rain barrel can only be used on the property where it was harvested.
  • Rainwater is only to be used for outdoor purposes, like watering lawns, gardens and outdoor plants. It can be used to wash cars.
  • Rainwater cannot be used for drinking, laundry, toilets or for animals.