posted by Irene Shonle, CSU Extension in Gilpin County
On April 1, 2016, Colorado passed a controversial legalization bill. No, not THAT kind of legalization—we did that a couple of years ago.
No, this bill finally made it legal for us to do what every other state is allowed – or even encouraged—to do: collect rainwater off the roof!
This is a game changer for Colorado, and especially for people who are on household-use only wells (who previously had NO outdoor water rights). Rainwater is free and collecting rain could reduce storm water run-off issues.
The bill has not yet been signed by Governor Hickenlooper, but he is expected to do so shortly, as he has been a supporter. Once signed into law, the bill will take effect August 10th.
Here is the legalese of House Bill 16-1005:
PRECIPITATION FROM A ROOFTOP MAY BE COLLECTED IF: a) NO MORE THAN TWO RAIN BARRELS WITH A COMBINED STORAGE CAPACITY OF ONE HUNDRED TEN GALLONS OR LESS ARE UTILIZED; (b) PRECIPITATION IS COLLECTED FROM THE ROOFTOP OF A BUILDING THAT IS USED PRIMARILY AS A SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE OR A MULTI-FAMILY RESIDENCE WITH FOUR OR FEWER UNITS (c) THE COLLECTED PRECIPITATION IS USED FOR OUTDOOR PURPOSES INCLUDING IRRIGATION OF LAWNS AND GARDENS; AND d) THE COLLECTED PRECIPITATION IS USED ON THE RESIDENTIALPROPERTY ON WHICH THE PRECIPITATION IS COLLECTED.
2) A PERSON SHALL NOT USE PRECIPITATION COLLECTED UNDER THIS ARTICLE FOR DRINKING WATER OR INDOOR HOUSEHOLD PURPOSES.
3) THE STATE ENGINEER MAY CURTAIL RAIN BARREL USAGE PURSUANT TO SECTION 37-92-502 (2) (a).
I’m sure we will be seeing a plethora of rain barrels in our garden centers in August – or even sooner. These have been conspicuously absent until now.
It is surprising how little rain it takes to fill those barrels – a half inch of rain collected from just a 200 sq. ft. section of roof will more than fill a rain barrel – and if your roof is bigger than that (most roof sections are), even less rain will do the job!
Some things to consider for your new rain barrel:
- Place your barrel on a hard or compacted surface, near a garden area you intend to water. Raise the barrel so you can get a watering can underneath the spigot at the bottom. Because residents can collect up to 110 gallons, and most barrels are 55 gallons, you may want to look into connectors for the barrels, unless you will be collecting from two separate downspouts.
Connected rain barrels - photo: Washington State University Extension
- Make sure it has a lid to keep out critters, mosquitoes and children. Opaque barrels will reduce algae growth.
- Use of rainwater on edible gardens can be tricky. Everything from bird droppings to pollution to leachate from shingles can potentially cause problems. These can be minimized by not collecting the first gallons of water after a dry spell (using a first-flush diverter), and only collecting off asphalt shingle or metal roofs (wood shake shingles can cause problems). Only use food-grade quality rain barrels.
Look for future programming from CSU Extension on water quality issues with collecting rain water, and enjoy your rainwater!