6.29.2009

It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/us/29rain.html?_r=1&hp
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/06/29/us/29rain600.jpg
For the first time since territorial days, rain will be free for the catching here, as more and more thirsty states part ways with one of the most entrenched codes of the West.
Precipitation, every last drop or flake, was assigned ownership from the moment it fell in many Western states, making scofflaws of people who scooped rainfall from their own gutters. In some instances, the rights to that water were assigned a century or more ago.
[...]
Who owns the sky, anyway? In most of the country, that is a question for philosophy class or bad poetry. In the West, lawyers parse it with straight faces and serious intent. The result, especially stark here in the Four Corners area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, is a crazy quilt of rules and regulations — and an entire subculture of people like Mr. Bartels who have been using the rain nature provided but laws forbade.
[...]
Just 75 miles west of here, in Utah, collecting rainwater from the roof is still illegal unless the roof owner also owns water rights on the ground; the same rigid rules, with a few local exceptions, also apply in Washington State.
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