Collecting rainwater runoff from roofs, to water plants, is illegal, and the Senate just voted to keep it that way.
Talk about some good old fashioned political wrangling.
Word is that Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, had to go over the head of agriculture committee Chair Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, just to get the bill to the floor.
The measure would have allowed Coloradans to collect two barrels of rainwater a year to water gardens.
“It gives urban dwellers a chance to see what it means to have to be cautious with the amount of water they use, to be careful, to save,” said Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs. “People need to realize we really are a desert state.”
Two barrels of water is two too many, argued the water buffaloes – lawmakers, farmers and just about anyone with a vested interested in the current way water is distributed in Colorado. That included reps for big water companies eager to sell every drop they can grab in this drought-prone state, who argued that the barrel phenomenon could explode in urban areas and impact downstream users.
Advocates from Conservation Colorado said the rain-barrel fight is far from over and that Coloradans should prepare for even more scalding water wars in the future.
“Going forward, Colorado will face tough choices in our water use as our population grows, and we face diminishing available supplies,” said director Peter Maysmith in a release. “Innovative steps like rain barrels can be part of solutions to help Coloradans conserve and use scarce water supplies wisely. For Colorado to continue to thrive, all Coloradans will need to work together on water solutions that provide for our communities, agriculture and our environment.”
Update: For those who are curious, HB 1259 was killed via a procedural movement approved by an unrecorded vote. Senate leadership laid over the bill until after the session ends, when it can’t be passed.
A rain barrel in far-wetter Louisiana. Image by bluecinderella.