Who Does Rainwater Belong To?

One of the greatest steps forward that local communities have taken of late is the push to collect rainwater to offset your water use. It is often an easy way to help out the environment and, in the long run, simply save water. There don’t really seem to be any catches to it either. Rain falls from the sky, hits your roof and runs in to your drums or barrels or tanks.

If only it were that simple.

Notch up another one for the members of the Idiots Anonymous who have apparently been camping out in Bellingham, Washington. Apparently, rainwater doesn’t actually belong to individuals, but to the state as a whole. Therefore, all the wonderful efforts of communities to collect water are actually illegal.

Not just frowned upon, or morally unethical, or shifty – all of which water collection is not – but actually illegal, so much so that in the future such legalities could be used in a court of law.

It comes down once again to the simple fact that humanity is doomed to an ever continuing cycle of idiot and misanthropic events and situations that will, eventually, simply wear down those of us with half a brain, and leave planet Earth populated by half-wits and mimes (often the same thing).

This information is coming to us from the Bellingham Herald, who recently ran a story entitled “Does saving rainwater violate state law?” by Jennifer Langston. “We’re not going to start issuing permits for a pickle barrel in the backyard. But what if it’s four pickle barrels or a system that has 20,000 gallons of storage?” said Brian Walsh, a manager in the Department of Ecology’s water resources program.

Mr. Walsh, manager of the Department of Ecology, who the hell cares if it’s 2 million! It is rainwater you simpleton. It is wet water, falling from the clouds in the sky, on to roof’s and paddocks which may very well be decked out with enough pickle barrels to quench the thirst of a small army, like Canada’s. But unless someone is filling their aforementioned barrel from a river or other form of wet estuary, what right minded individual is going to attempt to enforce this law?

According to Langston, Seattle has obtained a citywide water-right permit, which allows for rain to be collected from most rooftops in the city. The “most” there refers to the few neighborhoods, mostly areas north of 85th street that see their stormwater empty into creeks and streams and lakes.

Just how is this stormwater making its way from Joe Bloggs’ roof and backyard out in to the streets and gutters so that it can then run into whatever lake lies at the end of it. How much rain is already soaked up by the grass that covers many a backyard? Is that grass acting illegally hogging all that water for itself?

If this law is not soon revoked, then my faith in humanity will once again drop another few notches down. And while Washington state lawmakers may not be out to please Joshua S. Hill of Melbourne, Australia, one can at least hope that they are going to try and use at least a modicum of common sense. It’d be a change, sure, but it’s a change for the better!

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[via planetsave]

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