Nanny State Alert: Man goes to jail for drinking rain water

posted at 10:41 am on August 10, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

You just can’t make this stuff up. A man in Oregon is currently in jail serving a thirty day term – along with a $1500 fine – for collecting rainwater and snow melt on his own property for drinking and household use. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Gary Harrington, the Oregon man convicted of collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his rural property surrendered Wednesday morning to begin serving his 30-day, jail sentence in Medford, Ore.

“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington told a small crowd of people gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail.

Harrington was found guilty two weeks ago of breaking a 1925 law for having, what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property. He was convicted of nine misdemeanors, sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1500 for collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his property.

There’s simply not much more to say about this one. Let this be a lesson to everyone about keeping an eye on who you elect to public office and the policies they put in place once they are there. The law in question here may date back nearly a century, but it certainly could have have been taken off the books long before now if the political will existed to do so. The fact that it’s still being enforced demonstrates that it isn’t some ancient anomaly hanging around as a joke. And given the current, regulation heavy environment in Washington, seeing such laws passed in other places isn’t quite so far fetched as you may think.

Still, Mr. Harrington’s story caught me off guard. This one simply defies reason.


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Barry and his ilks will introduce new legalization against illegal air pockets.

bayview on August 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Tyranny! What’s next? Imprisonment for drinking from a garden hose on hot day?

sandspur on August 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Live free or die!

Schadenfreude on August 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Was he also breathing air from an illegal atmosphere? String him up!

NeighborhoodCatLady on August 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM

I’m going to (as soon as it stops raining here) build myself some new reservoirs to capture as much rain water as I can. Why? So when the communists of obamacommies legion come around I have something to toss their bodies into.

Wolfmoon on August 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Nothing but rain water and grain alcohol. Now help me with this belt Mandrake.

forest on August 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM

People on the east coast don’t understand how important water rights are in the west. So it is not as egregious as some might think. Rain run-off feeds creeks and streams, which provide the water to the people downstream. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Still, Mr. Harrington’s story caught me off guard. This one simply defies reason.

Sorry Jazz, but being caught off guard by stuff like this only exposes that you have been (To some degree) indoctrinated to accept Marxist styled totalitarian oppression.

SWalker on August 10, 2012 at 10:50 AM

If too many people use their own means to get water, won’t be much need for those “state water managers”, will there? Can’t have that now, can we?

ellifint on August 10, 2012 at 10:50 AM

That one is just so random and so out-of-left-field. Who could possibly predict that collecting rainwater might land you in jail?

What other completely random and off-the-wall misdemeanors do they have in Oregon? Will shaving your arms land you in jail? Will signing autographs with a magic marker land you in jail? Will taking a nap on Sunday and snoring land you in jail?

Aitch748 on August 10, 2012 at 10:50 AM

All your rains belong to us.

Socratease on August 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Harrington was found guilty two weeks ago of breaking a 1925 law for having, what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property.

Yif! What were the drinking back then. Oh, wait. That was during Prohibition. Not the kind of “illegal reservoir” I would have expected….

apostic on August 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM

If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Speaking as someone from Southern California who knows a bit about the subject, your logic is a total fail.

SWalker on August 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM

This is what we get when politicians believe that everything STARTS at the government level and trickles down from there.

southsideironworks on August 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Meanwhile, part of the Metro Milwaukee Sewerage District’s discharge permit mandates a massive plan to install rain barrels.

Nothing but rain water and grain alcohol. Now help me with this belt Mandrake.

forest on August 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Dr. Strangelove FTW.

Steve Eggleston on August 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Does Oregon now qualify as a foreign country? Because it sure does sound like this man’s rights to collect water FROM NATURAL SOURCES LIKE THE FRIGGING SKY are being violated to a degree they don’t even impose in dictatorships!

This is nanny nation mentality taken to the Dark Side.

pilamaye on August 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Let’s be honest about this, he wasn’t just setting out some barrels to collect rainwater, he was building dams to interrupt flowing water.

JohnBrown on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system.”

Any Rand, from Atlas Shrugged

iurockhead on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

People on the east coast don’t understand how important water rights are in the west. So it is not as egregious as some might think. Rain run-off feeds creeks and streams, which provide the water to the people downstream. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

That’s interesting, but don’t you own the water rights on your own property? I’ve never had to even think about this having lived in Michigan most of my life and surrounded by fresh water.

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Any Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged

Dern it

iurockhead on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

People on the east coast don’t understand how important water rights are in the west. So it is not as egregious as some might think. Rain run-off feeds creeks and streams, which provide the water to the people downstream. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

I don’t understand this. If the rain falls on your property, and you collect just the rain that falls on your property, you’re stealing from people who own a creek somewhere that the rain might have flowed into? How do you assert property rights on rain that hasn’t fallen on or flowed into your property?

Aitch748 on August 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM

People on the east coast don’t understand how important water rights are in the west. So it is not as egregious as some might think. Rain run-off feeds creeks and streams, which provide the water to the people downstream. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

This make sense.

CorporatePiggy on August 10, 2012 at 10:58 AM

What?! Half the country’s in a drought, fer God’s sake!

SailorMark on August 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Nanny State at its most hypocritical. In the City I am required to hold back all rain water off my property. The system when I installed it was roughly $28,000.00 The City I’m in is a little on the nutty side. The cost for city water has gone up astronomically. Once our bills averaged around $60.00 and were billed quarterly. Now the same service is billed monthly and averages about $110.00 per month. I am doing some work to the system which will allow me to use the hold back water for watering the gardens. Will I notify the city? Absolutely not. At my home, not in the city I have nine springs and two branches. My main reservoir holds 12,600 gallons of spring water with anything not used going out the overflow to one of the branches. The secondary cistern holds 1200 gallons and allows for gravity feed water supply to my home. There has been talk of condemning spring systems and forcing folks to migrate to wells. The wells where I am are iron rich. Luckily the tree hugging nannies are losing the quest for control over my water rights for now. For how long I’m not sure. When and if they do garner control they will certainly have a hefty fight on their hands. We are prepared they never are. We will continue to have property rights where I am. Its in all the deeds. Law is not law anymore. It has become a method for compliance to the State. There is nothing finer than spring water IMHO. It is truly a gift. No one can charge for, yet.

Bmore on August 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

People on the east coast don’t understand how important water rights are in the west. So it is not as egregious as some might think. Rain run-off feeds creeks and streams, which provide the water to the people downstream. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

I understand this but a 1925 law meant to benefit one city? Has not the city grown since then? Is this tributary system still the only source of water for Medford? I bet it isn’t. And what about all the water Oregon steals from California? When does that become the property of the state? For that matter are the clouds over Oregon state property?

I honestly think that any law like this must have a sunset provision. I’m willing to bet that the 1925 law does not fit the current conditions and the state is simply using it as a cudgel for the bigger point that landowners can’t divert water for their own purposes.

That being said, I have less sympathy for this guy when I read that he already pled guilty to this once, got three years probation, and immediately started collecting that illegal run off again.

Happy Nomad on August 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Let’s be honest about this, he wasn’t just setting out some barrels to collect rainwater, he was building dams to interrupt flowing water.

JohnBrown on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

This. He was building dams across channels and streams and creating lakes in order to keep all the water on his property rather than letting it reach other nearby properties. Just because a stream cuts across your property does not give you the right to dam it and dry it up.

There is ALWAYS more to the story that most MSM reports will cover up in the name of sensationalism.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Speaking as someone from Southern California who knows a bit about the subject, your logic is a total fail.

SWalker on August 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Umm, that’s the actual reason I’ve found for the law to exist in the research I’ve done. It’s to protect those who have zoning rights to water run offs in certain areas. With out getting into right/wrong do you know of another stated reason why Stages still have this law on their books?

Politricks on August 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

They are going after the preppers, now!

OldEnglish on August 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Let’s be honest about this, he wasn’t just setting out some barrels to collect rainwater, he was building dams to interrupt flowing water.

JohnBrown on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

That’s not quite accurate either. This was for rainwater. He had 3 ponds that were built 37 years ago to capture rain water instead of letting it flow off his property. This isn’t exactly a dam.

I agree with this law violation to a certain extent. If he were a manufacturing facility he would have to have had those ponds permitted. The manufacturing community has been screaming for years about over-regulation and most citizens just look the other way because they think it will never impact them. I think we need even handed enforcement for both citizens and businesses when it comes to violating environmental regs. Maybe that way people will realize how ridculously difficult it is to run a business, and may think twice about supporting some of these crazy rules.

Businesses are people. They same rules should apply to everyone.

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Let’s be honest about this, he wasn’t just setting out some barrels to collect rainwater, he was building dams to interrupt flowing water.

JohnBrown on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

This. He was building dams across channels and streams and creating lakes in order to keep all the water on his property rather than letting it reach other nearby properties. Just because a stream cuts across your property does not give you the right to dam it and dry it up.

There is ALWAYS more to the story that most MSM reports will cover up in the name of sensationalism.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

—-

THIS.

He was given a chance to release the water and not have to do any jail time. If he wanted to fight the law he could have sued and went through the appropriate channels. The fact that he’s serving 30 days is due to his own stubborness.

Politricks on August 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

The government didn’t mind using his ponds to help fight local fires.

http://modernsurvivalblog.com/government-gone-wild/government-gone-wild-says-all-the-water-is-theirs/

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

That’s interesting, but don’t you own the water rights on your own property? I’ve never had to even think about this having lived in Michigan most of my life and surrounded by fresh water.

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

If a stream runs across your property, then goes on to cross several other properties, should you be allowed to dam it and dry it up so that others can’t use it on their property?

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

http://www.kpic.com/news/local/Eagle-Point-man-jailed-for-illegal-water-reservoirs-164206356.html

This sounds a lot different than just rainwater.

Harrington stored and used water illegally by placing dams across channels on his property and preventing the flow of water out of these artificial reservoirs without obtaining a water right permit. The height of each dam varies; two dams stand about ten feet tall and the third stands about 20 feet tall. The total amount of water collected behind these dams totals about 40 acre feet; enough to fill almost 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. These man-made reservoirs feature boat docks, boats, and were stocked by Harrington with trout and Bluegill for recreational fishing.

hawksruleva on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

If the rain falls on your property, and you collect just the rain that falls on your property, you’re stealing from people who own a creek somewhere that the rain might have flowed into? How do you assert property rights on rain that hasn’t fallen on or flowed into your property?

Aitch748 on August 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Apparently Oregon owns all the water. I’m just surprised that no bright spark in the water authority has figured out that some of that rain evaporates before soaks into the water system. Why not place a “rain tax” on landowners for the water they hold back.

Happy Nomad on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

There is ALWAYS more to the story that most MSM reports will cover up in the name of sensationalism.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

From what I’ve researched there were no dams. Strictly stormwater retention ponds.

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Water rights are tricky; they’ve been the starting point of many great Westerns.

I would be interested to know the percentage of total flow in the waterway he was blocking water from, and the uses downstream. It seems that it would be situational, and would require an assessment as to whether his damming of the flow was reasonable to his purpose, or excessive. He should have some rights to the water, though not all. It definitely is a big impingement of his liberty to jail him for use of water crossing his property, without duly weighing his use versus the projected use downstream of that water by man and beast and aquatic life.

cane_loader on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Sorry Jazz – but I think you’re falling for the media sensationalization of this story. According to the full reports of the case, the guy was building dams across streams/creek beds running through his property – in violation of state water rights laws – and he’s been ignoring warnings and court orders for years.
If you want to change the state laws about water rights, that’s one thing. But this guy has been ignoring and fighting the law for a long time. He’s not just “collecting rainwater”.

And yes I know something about water rights in the west (Colorado) having been on a town council and working heavily with the public works department and adjacent municipalities – and various owners of water rights.

dentarthurdent on August 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

This sounds a lot different than just rainwater.

hawksruleva on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

I’d also be concerned about the safety of the dams and what is downstream.

Happy Nomad on August 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Sounds like he should have outsourced the job to beavers. Or would Oregon jail the beavers, too?

cane_loader on August 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

The jerks who prosecuted this and the ass of a judge who sentenced this man should be ashamed of themselves.

But they aren’t.

Those are the kind of people who need to be kicked out of government.

wildcat72 on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

We’re supposed to kiss their rings in gratitude of breathing the same air they do.

How is this not a huge lawsuit? The snow melt, the rainfall? They belong to the person who’s property their creator saw fit to make it fall on.

Speakup on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

That’s not quite accurate either. This was for rainwater. He had 3 ponds that were built 37 years ago to capture rain water instead of letting it flow off his property. This isn’t exactly a dam.

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Gary Harrington was convicted on nine counts of water misuse after he built dams to collect water from channels that would have flowed into a local river.

In a press release about the charges OWRD said that he had constructed two 10-foot dams and one 20-foot dam, and had enough water stored up to fill 20 Olympic-sized pools.

http://www.a1social.com/2012/08/u-s-oregon-man-jailed-for-collecting-rainwater-in-reservoirs-on-his-property/

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

When the ponds get full and spill over the people down stream get the same water as they did before. This is tyranny.

wheelgun on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

That’s interesting, but don’t you own the water rights on your own property? I’ve never had to even think about this having lived in Michigan most of my life and surrounded by fresh water.

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

I think those rules vary from state to state and maybe even county by county. I know in Virginia there are rules about manmade ponds, but the rules seem more about ensuring the safety of the retaining walls. But damming a stream is a pretty big deal. You’re disrupting a lot of wildlife, and harming the landowners downstream as well.

hawksruleva on August 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

You’re a Republican? Conservative?

Luckily the tree hugging nannies are losing the quest for control over my water rights for now. For how long I’m not sure. When and if they do garner control they will certainly have a hefty fight on their hands.

Bmore on August 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

You go, B. Invite MT over and give a few lessons on freedom.

beatcanvas on August 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

1) Read the whole story. See a picture of one of the reservoirs here. The issue goes beyond your right to capture rain water, the issue goes to safe storage.

2) You cannot impound water in most states without being subject to permitting and regulation. It’s a matter of public safety, ever hear of dam or impoundment failures and the downstream property damage, and the numbers of people injured or killed thereby?

3) The State claims Gary went beyond collecting sheet wash or surface water when he diverted a stream course after being informed by the state that such action was subject to permitting (see #2).

4) If you’ve never lived or been in Oregon, it rains there. A lot. Especially west of the Cascade Range. Proper construction and maintenance of impoundments can be a real safety issue.

5) If you are not familiar with “Waters of the United States” case law, you should read up on it. I guarantee it will make your blood boil 100x worse than Gary’s singular story. Gary is at the tip of a decades long spear aimed straight at citizen’s property rights, but safety issues are real and the State can ill afford to make exceptions, private dams in most states are subject to permitting and inspection for good reasons.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

can we all be libertarian now? the nanny needs to go.

hanzblinx on August 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

From what I’ve researched there were no dams. Strictly stormwater retention ponds.

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

He built 3 dams, two of them 10-feet wide, one of them 20 feet wide.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM

What is the original reasoning for such a “law”?

Guess I’ll have to investigate the history of this.

listens2glenn on August 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

What is the original reasoning for such a “law”?

Guess I’ll have to investigate the history of this.

listens2glenn on August 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

So that people could not divert or dry up streams and rivers that are used by many others whose property they also cross.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

When the ponds get full and spill over the people down stream get the same water as they did before. This is tyranny.

wheelgun on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

I wonder if that’s true. First, is he capturing water that’s flowing onto his property from upstream? Or is he capturing only runoff from his property? Second, how much water is he releasing?

hawksruleva on August 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

If a stream runs across your property, then goes on to cross several other properties, should you be allowed to dam it and dry it up so that others can’t use it on their property?

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

The funny thing about reservoirs is once they fill up, they start spilling the excess.

If a small reservoir is not inconsequential, they have way worse problems than Texas right now.

bbhack on August 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

I had an accountant tell me yesterday that he was cooking lunch in his office, and a code enforcement officer came in and told him he was not allowed to do that. His office is an old building in a downtown historic district in a small town. Government overreach at ALL levels. He brings sandwiches to work now.

txsurveyor on August 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Meanwhile, part of the Metro Milwaukee Sewerage District’s discharge permit mandates a massive plan to install rain barrels.

Steve Eggleston on August 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Your kidding right? If you are not every time I go into the city for the ball game or drive past ( which never happens because I have no use for that town besides WTMJ talk radio ) I will point and laugh… hard.

watertown on August 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Psst. The Fremen called. They want their water back.

apostic on August 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM

From what I’ve researched there were no dams. Strictly stormwater retention ponds.

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

If you dig a hole in the srteam bed and/or pile dirt on the downstream side – you have effectively built a dam.
Even in Colorado, and even for a a town/city, if you don’t own the water rights, you cannot do ANYTHING to interrupt the natural flow of water. And if you do, you must put into the flow downstream as much water as you have stopped or taken out.

The town where I was on the town council had several shallow wells into the tributary flow of a stream bed (Monument Creek) which runs through Colorado Springs, Pueblo and out into the plains. The farmers out southeast are the primary water rights owners for that creek, so if my town sucked 1000 gallons of water out of the creek through a well, we had to relesae an equal amount back into the creek downstream (usually met with gray water effluent from the town treatment plant).

dentarthurdent on August 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Also, the fire department is in favor of Mr. Harrington keeping the ponds, because they could be useful in fighting forest fires.

All in all, it’s a pretty interesting case.

hawksruleva on August 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

If a stream runs across your property, then goes on to cross several other properties, should you be allowed to dam it and dry it up so that others can’t use it on their property?

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Not being able to dam a river seems pretty straight forward to me, but collecting rain water isn’t exactly the same thing. I have no idea how water usage is determined. How is collecting rain water different than say irrigating your fields from the river?

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

He was sentenced for diverting streams. He claimed he was collecting rainwater.

DaveO on August 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

There are counties in Colorado where it is illegal to capture runoff and rainwater.

I have a friend who lives in one such county. After a particularly heavy snowfall, he phoned the water resource people and got them to reassert their “ownership” of the snow because it was a water resource.

So he said “great, come and get your water out of my driveway”.

They weren’t amused.

mr.blacksheep on August 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Sort of O/T a read an article by a person who build a totally “green” house and she said that the only thing that was done that turned out to be economical was diverting gray water for lawn irrigation use.

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM

This. He was building dams across channels and streams and creating lakes in order to keep all the water on his property rather than letting it reach other nearby properties. Just because a stream cuts across your property does not give you the right to dam it and dry it up.

There is ALWAYS more to the story that most MSM reports will cover up in the name of sensationalism.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Wrong Answer, research should have been your friend. The man had built and had permitted 3 gravitationally fed non diversionary reservoirs on his property. In common parlance or jargon they are called… Ponds.

a) they were not tributary fed.
b) they were legally permitted for 37 years
c) the City of Medford arbitrarily revoked his permits giving no reasonable or rational explanation.

SWalker on August 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM

for collecting rainwater and snow melt on his own property for drinking and household use

OK, can somebody confirm this? This is a REALLY IMPORTANT detail.

I tried looking this story up elsewhere, and read that he had dozens of acre-feet of water, creating some private fishing areas, complete with docks. And that his downstream neighbors had been complaining for TEN YEARS.

Water rights in farming communities are a really big deal. This guy might have been a nuisance for a decade, but then suddenly became an existential threat to his downstream neighbors’ farms during a time of drought.

logis on August 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM

If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

You’re a Republican? Conservative
?beatcanvas on August 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Some scary chit.

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM

The average annual rainfall for Medford, Oregon, as measured over 30 years, is 18.37 inches per year. The average annual snowfall for Medford, Oregon is 4 inches.

The average annual rainfall for the entire State of Oregon is about 28 inches per year. The average annual snowfall for the entire State of Oregon is 3 inches per year.

Plus, the State of Oregon is practically an island floating on groundwater. The underground aquifers, underground rivers, underground lakes, watersheds and other bodies of underground water is massive stretching from well within the State of Washington to beyond the California border and across the State of Oregon from the Pacific Coast to beyond its borders to the east.

That guy wasn’t ‘stealing’ water from anyone or depriving anyone of any measure of their own rainwater. He was maintaining a few small reservoirs on his own private property with plentiful water that fell freely from the sky — which by the very definition of reservoir makes his rainwater collection finite and not bottomless pits that ‘divert’ anything whatsoever any longer than it takes to have filled the small reservoirs back when they were made and then maintain their levels throughout the year while it rains copiously. all. year. long.

FlatFoot on August 10, 2012 at 11:20 AM

I wonder if water runs through my property and inadvertently waters my plants and garden am I stealing?

/

FO Big Gov types.

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Gary Harrington was convicted on nine counts of water misuse after he built dams to collect water from channels that would have flowed into a local river.

In a press release about the charges OWRD said that he had constructed two 10-foot dams and one 20-foot dam, and had enough water stored up to fill 20 Olympic-sized pools.

http://www.a1social.com/2012/08/u-s-oregon-man-jailed-for-collecting-rainwater-in-reservoirs-on-his-property/

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

The ponds have been there for years. How could anyone possibly say that the dry channels would flow water into a local river?

Harrington, however, argued in court that that he is not diverting water from Big Butte Creek, but the dams capturing the rainwater and snow runoff – or “diffused water” – are on his own property and that therefore the runoff does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state water managers, nor does it not violate the 1925 act.

According to him, the only water he was collecting was that which fell on his property. This would be different if there was a spring-fed stream that started off his property and he diverted it. As I understand it, the sources of these so-called “channels” all originated on his property with no alternate source of feeding them.

Regardless, as the law is written, he is guilty since that water could potentially flow into a creek whos water rights are owned by a city. If people don’t like the law, they need to change it, but any exemptions made for individual citizens should also apply to businesses.

How do I apply for the rights to Rainwater falling on my neighbors land? If a city can do it, can a citizen claim that they have ownership of rain water that is causing their neighbors grass to grow?

If I refuse to mow my lawn and I subsequently use more rainwater for that grass, can my neighbor down “channel” from me sue?

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Rain from the sky? I believe God owns the rights to that.

katy the mean old lady on August 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

That’s interesting, but don’t you own the water rights on your own property? I’ve never had to even think about this having lived in Michigan most of my life and surrounded by fresh water.

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Try damming up a creek on your property in Michigan and watch the DNR come down on you. They have something about wetland preservation which sound to me like a liberal wet dream. Michigan is slowly turning back to a wilderness and there are people worry about saving enough swamp land.

LoganSix on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

In a press release about the charges OWRD said that he had constructed two 10-foot dams and one 20-foot dam, and had enough water stored up to fill 20 Olympic-sized pools.

http://www.a1social.com/2012/08/u-s-oregon-man-jailed-for-collecting-rainwater-in-reservoirs-on-his-property/

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Any state official who uses “Olympic sized pool” as a unit of measure is a dangerous fool.

bbhack on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

…but safety issues are real and the State can ill afford to make exceptions, private dams in most states are subject to permitting and inspection for good reasons.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Absolutely. See South Fork Dam and Johnstown Flood for the good reasons.

reddevil on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Wrong Answer, research should have been your friend. The man had built and had permitted 3 gravitationally fed non diversionary reservoirs on his property.

Does not mesh with the reports:

Harrington stored and used water illegally by placing dams across channels on his property and preventing the flow of water out of these artificial reservoirs

http://www.kpic.com/news/local/Eagle-Point-man-jailed-for-illegal-water-reservoirs-164206356.html

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

anyone who tries to enforce this on my land will get an education on private property and gun laws

Slade73 on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

The funny thing about reservoirs is once they fill up, they start spilling the excess.

If a small reservoir is not inconsequential, they have way worse problems than Texas right now.

bbhack on August 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

That takes time depending on the size of the resevoir. And if you are stopping all of the rainwater in the spring, when farmers downstream need it, then letting it overflow in the fall – when the farmers don’t need it, you are having a huge effect on other people who have rights to that water. Timing is everything – but according to the law is irrelevant.

dentarthurdent on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

It may not shock many, but if you live in CO. you were probably already aware. It is more common than you may want to think–here is map of the states that have some form of legislation.

I OPPOSE it and had rain barrels on every corner of my TX. house.

hillsoftx on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

People on the east coast don’t understand how important water rights are in the west. So it is not as egregious as some might think. Rain run-off feeds creeks and streams, which provide the water to the people downstream. If someone owns that water right and you divert it, you are stealing from them.

MTinMN on August 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Would a well be stealing from them also?

Bmore on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

How do I apply for the rights to Rainwater falling on my neighbors land? If a city can do it, can a citizen claim that they have ownership of rain water that is causing their neighbors grass to grow?

If I refuse to mow my lawn and I subsequently use more rainwater for that grass, can my neighbor down “channel” from me sue?

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

You and I shouldn’t give these big gov types any more ideas.

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM

So if I install an evaporation condensor over a pond on my property that causes the water vapor to condense and fall back out on my property am I depriving others of potential rainfall?

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

You and I shouldn’t give these big gov types any more ideas.

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM

I think we should. I think every citizen should be pushing for rules to be enforced on citizens. The same rules that businesses have to comply with. If enough people realize how extreme some of these rules are, maybe there will be public outcry for some change.

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

I think those rules vary from state to state and maybe even county by county. I know in Virginia there are rules about manmade ponds, but the rules seem more about ensuring the safety of the retaining walls. But damming a stream is a pretty big deal. You’re disrupting a lot of wildlife, and harming the landowners downstream as well.

hawksruleva on August 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Yup
http://www.getipm.com/personal/dam.htm

katy the mean old lady on August 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM

The total amount of water collected behind these dams totals about 40 acre feet; enough to fill almost 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. These man-made reservoirs feature boat docks, boats, and were stocked by Harrington with trout and Bluegill for recreational fishing.

OH MY GOD!!!!!

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM

They came for the rain water drinkers and I did nothing because I drink Perrier.

NotCoach on August 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM

anyone who tries to enforce this on my land will get an education on private property and gun laws

Slade73 on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

this^

wheelgun on August 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM

If I refuse to mow my lawn and I subsequently use more rainwater for that grass, can my neighbor down “channel” from me sue?

weaselyone on August 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

The answer is yes, because anyone can sue anyone for anything in this country. Whether they would prevail in court is a separate question.

Get yourself a copy of the book “Water Law“, it will curl your hair and shock your sense of fair play.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM

In most Western states you can not collect rain water. I know this sounds alien to people back east and having grown up in the east, it was alien to me when I first got here, too.

Here’s the problem:

There isn’t enough water to go around out west. We get our rain in the winter. The combination of the rain soaking into the ground and the runoff from snow melt in the spring recharges the surface aquifers. The amount of water than can be drawn with a well from those aquifers or the amount of river water you can get for irrigation is regulated through things called “water rights”. You purchase water rights for the amount of water you need for a given purpose.

If you collect that water and prevent it soaking in, you are basically stealing water if you don’t have water rights for the amount of water you collect. Capturing rain water is no different from pumping it out of the ground. Both activities reduce the amount of water in the ground by the same amount. In fact, the rain water collection is less efficient because you lose a lot through evaporation from your reservoirs.

This is only news because it is an alien concept to people who live in places where rain and ground water for irrigation are abundant and they don’t have to purchase “water rights” for irrigation or collection of rain water. Had this farmer purchased rights to that amount of water, he would not have had a problem. This is a huge problem in the west, particularly in areas where federal courts have ruled that irrigation water from rivers must be cut back due to “environmentalist” lawfare.

crosspatch on August 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Rain from the sky? I believe God owns the rights to that.

katy the mean old lady on August 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

That’s not how the water rights laws work out west.
Like or not, the water laws are critical for a lot of people. Illegal diversion of water flow will destroy farmers and ranchers downstream who have rights to that “God given” water flow.

dentarthurdent on August 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

LoganSix on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Like I said earlier, I get that point about damming, but this is an article about collecting rainwater for drinking. I understand Michigan, like all states, have laws governing such activities, but Michigan has an abundance of water for drinking, therefor it’s not such a major issue, at least in the Detroit metro area.

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

You guys want us to believe that the government is correct in this ruling but it is hard to support any of the powers that be when we have so many instances of overreach. Delta Smelt, anyone?

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM

I need two pieces of information. How deep are Olympic pools and why is this man harboring bluegill?

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Would a well be stealing from them also?

Bmore on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

If the cone of depression of the potentiometric surface from said well extended into your neighbor’s property, or if other effects to the neighbor’s groundwater extractive efficiency were measurable then an attorney might be able to successfully make that argument and prevail, yes.

Get a copy of “Water Law“, or borrow a copy from any attorney friend you might have. It is shocking.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

My small city in Texas encourages people to use barrels to capture rainwater, and gives free info on how to go about it.

Rebar on August 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Any state official who uses “Olympic sized pool” as a unit of measure is a dangerous fool.

bbhack on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

The official measurement is in acre-feet or gallons. The analogy to “olympic swimming pools” is so “regular people” can visualize just how much water that really is.

dentarthurdent on August 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Wrong Answer, research should have been your friend. The man had built and had permitted 3 gravitationally fed non diversionary reservoirs on his property.

Does not mesh with the reports:

Harrington stored and used water illegally by placing dams across channels on his property and preventing the flow of water out of these artificial reservoirs

http://www.kpic.com/news/local/Eagle-Point-man-jailed-for-illegal-water-reservoirs-164206356.html

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Your an idiot Angus, a diversionary reservoir is one that derives it water by diverting an existing tributary. A gravitationally fed non diversionary reservoir is one that derives it’s water through channeling non tributary surface runoff and melt.

A channel on ones property is not a tributary nor does it constitute a pre-tributary condition.

SWalker on August 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

My small city in Texas encourages people to use barrels to capture rainwater, and gives free info on how to go about it.

Rebar on August 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

That would be perfectly legal for this guy if it was what he was doing. However, what he was actually doing was building 20-foot high dams to block natural water flow.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Let’s be honest about this, he wasn’t just setting out some barrels to collect rainwater, he was building dams to interrupt flowing water.

JohnBrown on August 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

He didn’t build those barrels.

Nutstuyu on August 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

The government will even harass beavers for their dam activities. It’s pretty funny.

Flange on August 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Would a well be stealing from them also?

Bmore on August 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Yes.
In Colorado you must get a state issued permit to drill a well.
When too many people suck water out of the aquifers, as has been the case with the Denver-Dawson aguifer (300 to 500 feet deep) that runs along the Colorado front range, the water level of the aquifer can be lowered – causing hundreds or even thousands of people to suddenly have dry wells – which cost upwards of $10K or more to re-drill. That’s why the state gets approval authority over all wells – and how much water per month or year you can take out of your well.

dentarthurdent on August 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Your an idiot Angus

SWalker on August 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

You don’t know the difference between Your and You’re, and I’m the idiot? Look up irony in the dictionary. If you need help learning how to look it up, go upstairs and ask your mom.

AngusMc on August 10, 2012 at 11:39 AM

I need two pieces of information. How deep are Olympic pools and why is this man harboring bluegill?

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

1. Don’t care. 2. Don’t care.

CW on August 10, 2012 at 11:39 AM

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