Rain Water Harvesting Promotes Conservation and Connects People to Their Water

Drew-Beckwith.web“Colorado’s recent legalization of rain barrels will inspire a greater water conservation ethic and demonstrates that our water laws can be responsibly updated.”

–Drew Beckwith, Water Policy Manager

The West Faces Many Water Challenges

The West faces many water challenges in the form of climate change, parching drought, and growing populations. Water conservation is a crucial, first-in-line strategy to ensure we have water for our communities, agriculture, recreation, and wildlife. That is why Western Resource Advocates cares so much about rainwater harvesting.

Allowing Rainwater Harvesting Promotes Conservation and Connects People to Their Water

Western Resource Advocates supports rainwater harvesting as a method of reducing dependence on the West’s over-taxed rivers and aquifers. Rainwater harvesting raises water awareness for residents across the West. Many people don’t know where the water in their taps comes from. They are experientially disconnected from the water cycle, insulated by a water plumbing system that always provides water whenever you turn on the tap – drought, rain, or shine. Harvesting rainwater, however, can help us connect to the natural cycles of rain and drought. Using a rain barrel, an above ground tank, or below ground cistern brings attention to how much water plants and people need to survive. Someone with a rainwater harvesting system develops a water cycle awareness and understanding that water is limited. Ultimately, this transforms into a conservation mindset and determination not to waste this precious resource. As we embrace a fuller set of water conservation tactics, we place less pressure on pulling water from somewhere else, be it irrigated agriculture or flowing rivers.

Allowing all of the West’s residents to use rainwater harvesting will build a conservation ethic in our communities, foster a deeper connection to water, and will not impact other water users. Studies in Colorado have shown that on average, only three percent of rainwater hitting our yards eventually makes it to waterways and aquifers; in dry years, it’s zero percent. In the West, almost all of our river flows come from melting snow, not rainfall. In fact, the vast majority of rain that falls on the ground (or is routed there via your gutter) is consumed by plants on the ground.

Western Resource Advocates Helped Pass New Law Legalizing Rain Barrels in Colorado

Colorado House Bill 16-1005 legalized the use of residential rain barrels for all Coloradans. Western Resource Advocates was heavily involved in crafting bill language, lining up supporters, testifying in committee, and pushing media coverage.  The bill received a ‘rainfall’ of votes in the House and Senate, passing 61-3 and 27-6, respectively, with Governor John Hickenlooper signing the bill at the Governor’s Mansion on May 12th, 2016. Legalizing rain barrel use is part of our work, for more than a dozen years, to accelerate urban conservation as the cheapest, fastest, and most flexible water supply. Legalizing rain barrels will help build the water conservation ethic we need for all Colorado residents to implement Colorado’s Water Plan and its landmark urban water conservation goal.

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Western Resource Advocates support efforts by all state’s to promote the use of rainwater harvesting – a gateway action to more water conservation.

Other Resources

Project Staff

Drew Beckwith

Water Policy Manager