Colorado House passes bill to end rain barrel ban | TheFencePost.com

Colorado House passes bill to end rain barrel ban

The greeley Tribune, Staff and wire reports

The Colorado House passed House Bill 1005 by a 61-3 vote March 1. If the bill becomes a law, residents who live in houses or small condo complexes will be allowed to put two 55-gallon barrels on their properties to collect rainwater.

They would be allowed to use it only for outdoor uses, such as gardening.

Colorado is the only state in the union with this ban. The logic behind it: It takes water out of the river system and harms users down the line, who have already paid for the water.

When a similar bill came to the legislature last year, it passed in the House and died in the Senate.

This year, however, Democrats in the House allowed two GOP-sponsored amendments meant to ease concerns over rain barrels and their place within Colorado water law.

One amendment makes it clear having a rain barrel is not a water right, and the other says the state engineer can step in if water is siphoned off from people with water rights.

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"We've come a long way," state Rep. J. Paul Brown, a Republican from Ignacio, said of the compromise. "Property rights are important. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution establish property rights, and waters rights are a property right."

The two amendments reflect the concerns expressed by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican from Sterling whose district includes large parts of Weld County. Sonnenberg said last week the two points — recognition of prior-appropriation and state stewardship of the practice — had to be addressed before he could support the rain-barrel bill.

Sonnenberg bottled up a similar bill in the Senate last year. ❖

Colorado is one step closer to dropping its rain barrel ban.

The Colorado House passed House Bill 1005 by a 61-3 vote March 1. If the bill becomes a law, residents who live in houses or small condo complexes will be allowed to put two 55-gallon barrels on their properties to collect rainwater.

They would be allowed to use it only for outdoor uses, such as gardening.

Colorado is the only state in the union with this ban. The logic behind it: It takes water out of the river system and harms users down the line, who have already paid for the water.

When a similar bill came to the legislature last year, it passed in the House and died in the Senate.

This year, however, Democrats in the House allowed two GOP-sponsored amendments meant to ease concerns over rain barrels and their place within Colorado water law.

One amendment makes it clear having a rain barrel is not a water right, and the other says the state engineer can step in if water is siphoned off from people with water rights.

“We’ve come a long way,” state Rep. J. Paul Brown, a Republican from Ignacio, said of the compromise. “Property rights are important. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution establish property rights, and waters rights are a property right.”

The two amendments reflect the concerns expressed by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican from Sterling whose district includes large parts of Weld County. Sonnenberg said last week the two points — recognition of prior-appropriation and state stewardship of the practice — had to be addressed before he could support the rain-barrel bill.

Sonnenberg bottled up a similar bill in the Senate last year. ❖

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