Government Criminalizing Rainwater Collection in All Out War on Self Sufficiency


By Phillip Schneider

Collecting rainwater is classically seen as a safe and sustainable way of supplying your household with an off-the-grid water supply. Some people collect rainwater only for a backup reservoir, while others prefer to go all the way and maintain their household with pure off-the-grid rainwater collection. This method ensures water during emergencies, can help control floods, saves money and liberates us from company-dependence for our water.

Consequently, this freedom to collect our own rainwater is currently under attack. State laws have been set up in several U.S. States including Oregon, Utah, California, Florida, Colorado and Washington that prohibit the collection, or “diversion” of rainwater, including water that is falling on your own property and is to be used for your own private use or as an environmental conservation technique.

This idea of state-owned rainwater is opposed both by environmentalists on the left, and libertarians and constitutionalists on the right, and even historical figures such as Chief Seattle when he allegedly said during his 1854 oration to the European colonists “how can you own the rain?”Supporters are mainly governments and collectivists who tend to lean toward ideologies that sacrifice individual liberties.

Although it seems commonsense that the water that falls on your own property would of course belong to you, state governments increasingly challenge that idea with legislation demanding that your water doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to them, they say, and if you want to use “their” water then you first have to obtain a “Water Right” – and if you are denied this right, the water that falls on your own property (even if you need it) will be illegal to use – you will be thrown in jail or fined for the use of that water. You are now a Water Criminal.

Take for example the story of Gary Harrington, an Oregon man who had three ponds, or what the Oregon State Water Managers called “three illegal reservoirs” of water on his more than 170 acres of land. Harrington was reportedly sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1,500 for having these “illegal reservoirs” on his property. The state claims that he is “diverting” water from Big Butte Creek, but he argues that he was only collecting the rainwater that falls on his own property, which later falls into to the creek.

CNS News reports:

“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.

This issue is not isolated and it’s happening more than ever. Increasingly, people are being banned from all kinds of off-the-grid activities such as camping on their own property or heating your home with wood. Residents of Colorado, Florida and California have all had similar experiences to Harrington. Robin Rutan, an off-the-grid resident, reportedly told Colorado Public Radio “We’ve been regulated out of life” and that “I came here because I couldn’t live by the codes [in other regions].”

Another Colorado resident said “We are residents who have come to live off the grid. It’s all our land…These are harsh economic times. We have nowhere to go”. Residents of California are having increasingly harder time due to these “water laws” in wake of the drought that is taking place there.

Many people of the world still utilize rainwater as a major water source, such as the people of Singapore (28 to 33% of total water used), Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Hawaii and more. A Colorado study reveals that “With rainwater harvesting, outdoor water demand is reduced by approximately 65% with moderate conservation and approximately 88% with water wise conservation.” showing that collecting rainwater helps the environment through conservation and reduces dependency on company water.

Phillip Schneider is a student and a contributing author to Waking Times.


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This article (Government Criminalizing Rainwater Collection in All Out War on Self Sufficiency) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Phiillip Schneider and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.


  • MA Deuce

    That`s Agenda 21 in action , no sovereignty allowed , serf city , can you say you own anything you pay property tax on?

  • American Patriot

    Here it is folks, the government you’ve always wanted and dreamed of!
    Free this, free that, all you have to do, is BOW DOWN and play SLAVE to those YOU elected…funny how that works, yes?
    YOU elected these BASTARDS to RUN your life, ORDER you around, and to make matters worse, ALLOW them to GUN YOU DOWN AT WILL, STEAL your money, TAKE anything they want, no matter where or what it is!
    This is what obama wanted, and those that voted for the terrorist, get EXACTLY the government they demanded…NAZIS!

  • Randje K Randje

    Two words: Civil disobedience. Evil has this one hallmark–it seeks to encroach upon and stifle freedom. The only intelligent response is to push back. In numbers.

  • Average Joe American

    I live in a western state which, like many out here, takes water rights very seriously.

    Here too, the government has a rainfall rule, one which states that collecting rainwater on one side of the Great Divide is legal, but on the other side it is not. I met a guy who was setting up an impressive roof collection system…a few miles to the wrong side of the Divide. I asked him if he knew this. He said, sure, think I hadn’t heard that? He also asked me if I thought–the precipitation on his land belonging to the government and all–that in the event of a severe hailstorm damaging his property (roof, siding, cars, crops, livestock, personal injury, etc.) the government was going to pay him for these damages caused by THEIR precipitation?

    I thought this an interesting point. Which of course leads us to:

    Will the government pay us for the necessary removal of THEIR property from OUR property in the event of a snowstorm or a flooded basement? Will they send out the National Guard to shovel your driveway, or pump out your cellar? If you cannot afford to pump “their” water out of your cellar can they then fine you for misappropriation of government property?

    If, as in the case of people being fined (or even incarcerated) should they refuse to acknowledge government “rainfall rulings,” based on the notion that said suspects had illegally interrupted the water’s passage to an appropriate State body of water, river, or stream, could said individuals sue the government for allowing said State property to trespass over their land without permission, perhaps causing damage or undue hardship?

    Because if the answer to these questions is no, then how can the government claim ownership of what falls from the sky onto our private property? For that matter, by similar logic, if clouds form over the mountains in State A, then the rain over the valleys in State B, shouldn’t A be suing B to get recompense for it’s water?

    And of course, what is next? Air is valuable, sunlight is valuable. May we still keep using these on our own land, or need we apply for air and sunlight usage permits, just because the government decides to pass laws in this regard?

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