I am looking to purchase a rain barrel. Fortunately, I do not live in Colorado. Colorado's water laws require that precipitation from the sky fall to the ground, run off and into the river of the watershed. Therefore, an individual can not purchase a rain barrel to capture such rain fall without breaking the law. Technically, an individual can go to jail for the collection of rain water. Of course, there are not many police officers patroling suburban neighbors arresting weekend gardeners or busting up garden clubs for capturing rain water to water their vegetable gardens and landscape. Nevertheless, it is a criminal offense where you could end up in jail with other nefarious characters because you violated a law that dates back to the 1800s. Colorado has an appropriation method with respect to water collection where there is a seniority system based on first come first serve claims staked as far back as the 1850s. Under its water law, every drop of water falling from the sky must divided amongst those that have such "water rights" claims. This includes Nestle, Exxon Mobil and many farmers throughout the area. There is a debate in Colorado on whether this law needs to be changed to allow its residents to collect rain water for its own personal use. There is growing pressure on both sides because of the ever growing drought occurring in Colorado. In fact, many parts of the western US have been in a drought for almost a decade.
As our climates changes, there is going to be a clash between (i) those individuals that do things on there own, such as capturing rain water in a barrel, to improve their personal environment and to save some money and what the private and public sector needs, which is to make money. In general, we need to put everything on the table and reevaluate it. A law that established rights 150 years ago might not make sense in the 21st century. I am not saying that we should rescind this law outright. We have seen where that draconion philosophy has led us when we removed Glass Steagal Act in where the financial and banking industry became less regulated. In the end, when we look on how to save this planet and maintain a certain quality of life, we need to fully reevaluate what laws make sense and what works in the 21st century. For now, I can say that I am glad that I live in Pennsylvania. I just hope I get a lot of rain this spring.