You might be aware that it is illegal to collect rainwater on your own property in some states, but did you know that doing so could actually land you in jail? That is exactly what is happening to Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Oregon. He is now facing a 30-day jail sentence and fines of more than $1,500. His crime? Harrington has been collecting rainwater in three reservoirs on his property, and the government doesn’t like it. In Oregon, all water is considered property of the state whether it flows from the tap or falls from the sky.
Collecting, storing and using rainwater is permitted if you obtain a permit from the state, but Harrington’s permits were revoked. The reasons why are not clear. Harrington has been wrangling with Oregon’s Water Resources Department for more than ten years. In 2002, the state informed him that they had received “complaints” regarding three reservoirs located on his property. The reservoirs were used to collect and store rainwater and snow melt. One of the reservoirs has been on the property for nearly four decades.
When Harrington received notice from the Water Resources Department, he applied for the appropriate permits required to house storm and snow water runoff. In 2003, the permits were granted, but the state later reversed the decision. Harrington told CNSNews.com:
They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said ‘No, you can’t have them,’ so I’ve been fighting it ever since. Harrington is planning to appeal the conviction, which consists of nine misdemeanor charges against him for having “three illegal reservoirs” on his property. He maintains that the charges are based on a 1925 law that says that the city of Medford owns all of the water in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries. FULL REPORT