By Jeremy Bloom
Even before the current drought, folks in the West have been fighting over water. And in Colorado they have taken it to the extreme – banning homes from collecting rooftop run-off in rain barrels so they can later use it to water the roses.
The argument: The cattle rancher downstream owns the right to that water, so by catching it in a rain barrel, you’re stealing it.
Does this make any sense? Not really. Scientifically speaking, it doesn’t really make much difference if any particular drop enters the groundwater now, or if it hangs around in a rain barrel for a few weeks first.
And either way, the amount captured is literally a drop in the bucket. “It would take a lot of water before it made a significant impact,” Dr. Larry Roesner, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Colorado State University, told a recent hearing at the Colorado Legislature.
It should be noted that while every state in the West has similar water rights laws, Colorado is the ONLY one banning rain barrels. Nobody else seems to think this is a problem.
But that didn’t stop Colorado’s GOP from blocking repeal of the nonsensical law. And now a GOP representative has a new plan that will allow rain barrels – but only with a new, useless layer of regulation and bureaucracy. (If that sounds odd to you… you’re not alone.)
“We’re going to bring a bill that does it right and honors the prior appropriation system and Colorado water law,” said GOP Senator Jerry Sonnenberg. “We need a simple and fair process on how that water should be replaced.”
He’s standing by his guns, too – despite testimony from a bunch of water experts that the law, and additional regulations, are unneeded, unnecessary, and just plain stupid.
Senator Ellen Roberts, the Republican Chair of the Water Resources Review committee, is frustrated with her colleagues. “When you have scientists come in and give you the facts I think it’s important to incorporate that into your thought process… I’m struggling myself to explain to people on the street why this is so controversial.”
But Sonnenberg continues to fight the common-sense measure, using his own version of common sense. “If you have a rain barrel, that’s less that’s going to run into the street.”
(Image via LiveGreenHoward.)