Collecting Rainwater: Is it necessary and who owns the rain?

I’m fascinated by rain barrels and collection of rainwater. My husband and I debate this because he does not believe that collecting rain water is necessary. The idea that we can’t make more water just does not “click” with him. The Great Lakes surround us and I see people every day taking this resource for granted, as if they can wiggle their noses and suddenly have clean safe water anytime they want. Maybe they need to visit a third world country. I’ve considered tricking my husband into some sort of trip to pry open his eyes and see just how hard it is to get clean, safe drinking water. The preservation of our water is important. Only 1% of our water is even usable on this planet, did you know that? I say, shut of the water while brushing your teeth and my husband says to do this to conserve energy not water.

Hmmm? I just read over at Life Hacker about collecting rainwater for toilet water and the thought crossed me, what if we all have to do this someday? Will it come to this? It’s inspiring to see the Denver post have an article on this and that communities are thinking this is a great idea. The idea dates back over 2000 years, if not longer. Then I see this Go Green Tube news clip on it being illegal to collect rainwater and I scratch my head? Does a state own rainwater? Tell me your thoughts whether you collect rainwater or have thought about it? Read more about this over at Green and  Clean Mom and see the questions I’ve posed to my readers.



8 Responses to Collecting Rainwater: Is it necessary and who owns the rain?
  1. Dawn
    September 26, 2008 | 7:40 am

    Leave it to the government to try to regulate rain…geez.

  2. Mimi
    September 26, 2008 | 8:30 am

    They aren’t regulating rain. In very dry states, like Utah, people own water rights. If you begin collecting large amounts of rain water (like one large company in SLC did to be environmentally friendly) you are removing what little water they have from dispersing itself into the water table. I think it’s really REALLY stupid. I live on a dessert island and we ALL have cisterns. It is our main source of water and we all use low flow devices in our toilets and showers. What is in our cistern is what we have. Sure, there is a large desalinization plant, but they are who we “get” our drinking water from.

  3. Jenn (The Green Parent)
    September 26, 2008 | 9:39 am

    Great post Sommer! I’ve been thinking recently about installing rain barrels. It is legal in my area although I know, as you mentioned that it’s illegal in some localities.

    As Mimi said, I think it has more to do with protecting the community’s water source than with regulating rain. Also, some areas are concerned about what each individual will do with this “gray water.” It’s fine for flushing toilets and watering the garden but it may not be safe to have your kids drinking out of a big bucket in the backyard. I know it sounds ridiculous, but its not at all unlikely, and so that is why a lot of areas simply ban it.

    Another problem is mosquitoes. If your rain barrel is not covered properly, it will breed these little buggers which can in turn lead to the spread of disease.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone banning rain barrels…I prefer education to legislation. But I think the reason behind the bans in some areas has more to do with these factors than with regulating rain.

    Thanks again for writing this post. It gets people talking about rain barrels and sharing ideas about the best ways to make them work!

  4. Tiffany (Nature Moms)
    September 26, 2008 | 10:55 am

    I think it is a bit silly to make rain barrels illegal for private homes but I can see a purpose in doing for businesses like in the video. That water likely gets diverted by gutters and such to be filtered and reused and when someone diverts it into rain barrels they are cutting down on the water available to everyone and they don’t have to pay for their share of the water. BUT after the guy washed his cars it would likely go to the same place the rain did…so money was probably the issue here…they wanted him to pay for that water.

    In Arizona and many other states you don’t even have rights to the water underneath your property. There was a huge farm in AZ that had to go under when a big development moved in and started diverting their water. The government sided with the development and said the farm had no legal rights to own their water and the farm went under.

    In Ohio right now there is an issue on the state ballot that would give private property owners some rights to the water on or under their property if it passes.

  5. Lisa
    September 26, 2008 | 11:26 am

    This is nuts! I’m going to be researching if that is just a Utah thing or every state. With the fact that my town does pick on the little guy often, when I get a rain barrel it’s going in the backyard lol.

    Have you pointed out to your husband about all the water shortages we already have on hot dry months? National Geographic had a great article on the subject in the Green Guide magazine this summer. It may still be on the website.

  6. Stephanie - Green SAHM
    September 28, 2008 | 6:42 pm

    Setting up rain water collection is one of the things I hope to do in the future when we own a home. Southern California doesn’t get all that much rain, and if it’s allowed I want to be able to take advantage of that.

  7. Lori Ann
    September 30, 2008 | 9:17 pm

    Interesting. I live in a country where only bottled or boiled water is drinkable, but I’ve never thought about rain water.

  8. sje
    December 21, 2008 | 9:22 pm

    We’ve always had rain barrels growing up. My wife just ordered a new one to replace one that fell apart. She did her homework and ordered from