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Rain Barrel Use Now Legal in Colorado!


This year, Colorado made legal the collection of rain water by private citizens.

Previously, that activity was prohibited. As of this week, the law is in effect and is making waves. But how does it affect HOAs?

You read that correctly. Collecting falling water was illegal in Colorado until Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill in May allowing for its collection in private rain barrels. Because rainfall is so common and widespread, many were perplexed to learn that small-scale collection of it was even illegal when the topic was brought up. Essentially, the ban on private rainwater collection existed because of Colorado’s complex water-rights laws. Essentially, every drop of falling water was legally claimed as property by an owner or governmental entity and taking it away from water channels through collection would have constituted a theft of that property. Given the arid nature of our region and the difficulty in predicting rainfall due to a changing climate, this made sense to some, but for those more interested in sustainable living at home, this was seen as outrageous. With the passage of the law, a middle ground has been met where water rights holders are still entitled to their use of water, but some rainwater may be collected by the population at large for property irrigation, with limitations.

The legislation (HB 16-1005) provides that collection of water runoff from rooftops is permitted so long as no more than two barrels are used for this collection and the total capacity of one or two barrels (in combination) does not exceed 110 gallons. It was determined that this volume would not significantly alter the total amount of runoff received by water rights holders and is thus permissible. The newfound freedoms of rain collection are limited to single family homes or attached housing of four units or less, however. This means that residents of most Colorado homeowners associations are not able to participate. Considering that there are over 5,000 HOAs in the state, the majority of which house greater than four homes, this privilege does not nearly reach all Coloradoans. Really, that’s ok though, because most HOAs have an irrigation system in place and do not rely on hand-watering. Rain barrel water is not intended to be for human consumption, bathing, etc., so the intended beneficiaries of the new law are the owners of single-family homes or those smaller HOAs (again, up to four units) which may not have extensive landscaping. Still, some HOA residents may feel slighted. The best way to not even have to worry about who gets to irrigate where with what? Xeriscaping! Landscaping with plants which rely on natural rainfall will mean that no one needs to go too far out their way to enjoy a beautiful landscape on their property, no matter what its size. Feel free to reach out to CAP Management with any questions on this. Thanks for reading! We’re happy to be blogging again!