It is illegal for you to collect rainwater in buckets and water your plants or wash your car. In the U.S., the government owns the water.

Might be helpful to point out that this is true only in two western states, Utah and Colorado, as far as I’m aware, and results from water-rights laws that were legislated over a hundred years ago. In many other states, municipalities (and in at least one case, the state itself) not only permit rainwater to be collected, but provide incentives to do so. The statement that in the US, the government owns the water is also not the case for Utah or Colorado. If a governmental entity holds a water right, then that entity owns the water that falls on its property, but its water rights do not pre-empt those of other water rights holders. If I’m wrong about this, then someone please set me straight, but this is my understanding of the situation.

If government can claim your water… then it is just a matter of time before it claims sunlight, and air… maybe the government will then tax air, water, and sunlight…

I believe some research just might reveal, that it was glass, not windows, where taxed. You would have add all the daylight you wanted streaming through windows, tax free. That’s not to say in hindsight, early regulations concerning water, could have been better. In the unlikely event these regulations are revisited, cast a wary eye towards any revisions. Mostly to insure they aren’t being revisited, to enable privatization of the control of water.

You are 100% right. Albuquerque is actively encouraging new development to include rainwater catchment–without enough storage, but they’re mandating it for all new residences, and encouraging the purchase of rain barrells with tax rebates and discounts for homeowners.

There is concern among some parties that if we catch enough rainwater, we’ll short our compact water to Texas–the water we legally owe them, due to misguided agreements (the water Compacts) set up among all the Western states in the 1920s and 30s–agreements which were made during some of the wettest years in recorded history. The compact says that CO owes NM so many acre feet per year from the Rio Grande, the Arkansas River, etc. Likewise, we in NM owe TX a certain number of acre feet per year of Rio Grande Water. There are similar arrangements among AZ, NV, and CA about the Colorado river. It’s all deeply flawed, and deeply in need of revision, and doesn’t take current population pressures or droughts into account. But it’s law. However, it does not mean we cannot catch our rainwater: just that we have to let the Rio Grande flow at a certain level so that those acre-feet of water are delivered. If I catch water off my roof, then i’m not pumping it out of the aquifer to feed my garden. The river recharges the aquifer, as does the watershed (more the latter than the former, but there is a complex interplay going on underground).

There’s also a growing concern that if we *fail* to catch our water, 2/3 of which comes in July-September as monsoon storms–1-2″ per rainfall followed by months of no precipitation at all, then the rate at which we are depleting our confined aquifer will exceed the watershed’s ability to recharge it so badly that there will be subsidences in the NE part of the city as the river water moves underground toward the vacuum created by pumping; the concern is that in those places where the river water is not pulled strongly enough, the ground will cave in. That water-motion, the river water tugging “up”underground, is already happening. There are already major pockets where water is retreating much faster than it is being recharged, and revising our relationship with rainwater could do a world of good. The city council knows this, and they are working to improve the situation.

Because of the compact, Colorado and Utah both have many municipalities that have made it illegal to catch rainwater. They feel that if they do that, they’ll short their Compact amounts. We could fix the whole situation in 15 or 20 years if everybody in the west caught all of their rainwater and reused it at the place where it fell, but legislators don’t want to think that way. Slow change doesn’t win elections. The government does not own the rainwater in any of these places. But they are responsible for meeting the terms of the Compact every year, and they are willing and able to enforce their need to meet that agreement. Thus the need to change the agreement – a need which is hotly debated.

Dear legal or not ” I read your letter, and don’t care much about laws, but if you have a privacy fence in your yard what is stopping you from collecting rainwater. And why would you tell anyone what you was doing on your property IF you own it. Limitations and zone laws are not going to protect you from all the problems you will have I you and your family go without water. or If you have to water a garden and pay for the extra water. The water that falls from the sky is free from GOD. So why not use this free source of water for you and your families needs. If any one has a problem build a shelter around the containers and lock them so no one can enter your place and see what you have.