23 Sep 2008

Water Hogs

I was contacted by Sally, yet another inventor with a brilliant idea. Rainwater HOG is a modular rainwater rescue tank that can be installed horizontally or vertically, as a thermal mass or drinking water supply.

The trouble (according to Sally) is that water in the US (as opposed to Australia, where she comes from) is too cheap, which makes it hard for her to sell her capital-intensive water conservation technology.

I told her that I am doing my best to raise water prices. I also mentioned that rainwater "capture" is illegal in some places in the States. She had heard about Colorado but not about other states.

"Is it illegal to "divert" rainwater in other states?" She asked. I don't know. Readers! Do you know?

Bottom Line: This great idea will not get off the ground while water is too cheap to conserve.


  1. Obligatory link when hogs are mentioned on any environmental blog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr6YDOBnYXA

  2. Yes, rainwater collection is illegal in Colorado, I have looked into it many times, as is greywater re-use. The reasoning it that nearly every drop (or right to use that drop) is owned in Colorado. And water rights are dependent on the timing of flows to the stream, the right to the stream as it was when appropriated, so by harvesting the rainwater, one is changing the timing of the return flows, thus "impacting" water rights.
    I wonder two things:
    1)Rainwater collection if done on a small scale doesn't really change much.
    2)Why when somebody is building a house and putting down a pavement driveway and/or a lawn, both which change the return flows this is not accounted for?
    If you're in rural Colorado, nobody is going to come looking for your cistern.
    In short, you could harvest rainwater in Colorado, if you bought somebody else's water to replace the rainwater you'd be "taking" from the system.

  3. Most states in the West have a domestic exemption from appropriation rules. As long as the rainwater collection is collected domestically and is used for domestic purposes and does not exceed the allowed domestic use volume (i.e. 13,500 gpd in Idaho), it should be legal. This is an unresearched opinion so take accordingly.

  4. Rainwater harvesting in New Mexico is in a state of hilarious legal ambiguity. State officials have essentially said, "We can't tell you whether it's legal or not," but in practice they do encourage it.

  5. Do you have to mutate into an anthropomorphic starfish to get the system to work, like the diagram implies?


Read this first!

Make sure you copy your comment before submitting because sometimes the system will malfunction and you will lose your comment.

Spam will be deleted.

Comments on older posts must be approved (do not submit twice).

If you're having problems posting, email your comment to me