Gardening Q&A: Collecting rainwater
August 17, 2009
Q: I heard we can now collect rainwater in Colorado for use in our yards. Great! I’m ordering a rain barrel today …
A: Whoa! Better review the facts first. The law change is only in effect for a limited population. Colorado water law, in conjunction with the Colorado constitution, explains that all water in Colorado is to be protected for distribution through the water rights system. Water rights are established by seniority with the oldest rights getting water first before those junior to them. Water is distributed this way until the water runs out. The new law allowing rainwater collection adds to the water law in the following ways:
1. The property on which the collection takes place is residential property.
2. The landowner uses a well, or is legally entitled to a well, for the water supply.
3. The well is permitted for domestic uses according to Section 37-92-602, C.R.S (Note: Generally, this means the permit number will be five or six digits with no “-F” suffix at the end).
4. There is no water supply available in the area from a municipality or water district.
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5. The rainwater is collected only from the roof.
6. The water is used only for those uses that are allowed by, and identified on, the well permit.
Ask yourself, do I use well water now? Am I entitled to put in a well, and is municipal water unavailable to me? If you answer yes to these questions, you may possibly qualify for a permit to collect rainwater from your roof. There is more information on water resources at the CSU Extension website, http://www.ext.colostate.edu.