Why is it illegal to catch rainwater in some states in the USA

Been reading how people are being arrested for catching rainwater on private property in some states, what the hell , it’s very much encouraged to catch rainwater off your roof of your house and store in tanks in Australia.

Probably water rights in low-rainfaill states. People downstream from where you are seeing a reduction in the amount of water because you’ve trapped it in rain barrels.

Thread a little earlier this year on this same subject. Yes, it’s a matter of Water Rights law, especially sensitive in the West.

All discussed here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/03/24/it-is-actually-illegal-in-colorado-to-collect-the-rain-that-falls-on-your-home/

With reference to " the common-law tradition, imported from soggy England" We do have our problems here. Not so much water rights but we do have shortages.

One problem, on this overcrowded little island is that all the new buildings and roads send the rainfall into drains, then to rivers and then out to sea. It simply doesn’t have time to soak into the aquifer. A few years ago, in an attempt to rectify this, it has become illegal to, for example, concrete a driveway. Any new work like that has to be permeable or has to drain into a soakaway.

On the other hand, water butts are positively encouraged and even subsidised. In the summer months, many of us water our flowers with used bathwater.

What…seriously? that sounds insane. How can water that falls on your land not be your water?

The air over your land doesn’t belong to you, so why should something falling from the sky?

Because the law assigns ownership of it separately from ownership of the land in some places. Likewise mineral rights – depending on where you live and the exact nature of your deed(s), you may or may not have a legal claim to the copper or gold lying under your feet.

If the door of a passing armored car accidentally opens and money spills onto your land, that’s not yours to keep, either.

The Snopes thread on the subject suggests that in some places it’s not the mere act of catching the rain that runs off your roof, but instead, depriving natural watercourses of unreasonable amounts water by means of artificial dams and catch-ponds on your property that’ll get you in trouble.

Basically the idea would be that catch-barrels wouldn’t be a material amount of water that would affect your downstream neighbors/prior appropriators, but damming up and capturing all the rainfall that fell on your property would be, and therefore is illegal.

Of course, if “grey water” use were legal to use, some people would simply leave the bathtub running all day to fill the grey-water tank with enough to water the lawn. Since there’s no way to prevent direct-to-grey, there’s no reason to allow grey-water watering in drought situations either.

Yea, but if a piece of blue ice from a passing jetliner falls on your property, you can keep that. I don’t think they even want it back.

But notify NORAD at once! They need to know about an icy BM attack.

WOW. Just wow.

But I’m free to run an air compressor and store it yes?

But the copper and gold were always there, the rain was not. If an Iron-rich meteorite falls into you garden then it would be equally stupid to say it isn’t yours.

I don’t doubt the legality of it, it is utterly stupid though and drives completely the wrong behaviours. The sort of person capturing and using the water off their roof is the sort of person likely to be conscious of water conservation and should be encouraged.
They aren’t stealing the water, when they eventually use it it’ll just as easily find its way into the ground or river or on to the sewage works for treatment.
At worst, people are delaying the water a little and every litre they capture is a reduction in demand from the system.

Everyone should collect and use rainwater. It cost me £40 and an hours work to
set up 500 litres of storage.

I dunno – better do some research on air rights. :wink:

Yes, it’s a real thing.

That’s not true. A land owner’s property typically includes underground, surface and air rights, so you do own the space above your property, if that’s what you mean by “air”. It gets incredibly complicated, but in most cases property owners do own the rain that falls on their property. But there are also laws and regulations regarding riparian rights which limit ownership, retention and use of water. It’s a very complicated subject, covering various aspects of property rights and governmental regulations.

I’m presuming that the money in the armoured car has an owner already yes?
If so then that’s a bad example. If not, or if something of value that has no identifiable owner spills onto my land? yep…I’m keeping it.

In Utah, where I’m from, water rights are more important than the land for much of the state. Obviously not for cities and towns, but out in the sticks, land is, well, dirt cheap. Without water, you can’t grow anything or raise cattle.