American Elephants


In Oregon the Rain Belongs to the State. by The Elephant's Child

The rain is raining all around,  it rains on field and tree.
We love this natural bounty, because the rain is free.

Unless you live in the State of Oregon, where the rain is fairly plentiful. If you live in Oregon and dig a pond on your property without a license, and the pond fills with rainwater — the state owns the rainwater, and if you try to keep it, you can go to jail.

A rural Eagle Point man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for filling what state water managers have called three “illegal reservoirs” on his property. Gary Harrington was also fined $1500 for nine misdemeanor convictions for filling his “reservoirs” with rain and snow runoff that the state says is owned by the Medford Water Commission. He was given two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.

Mr. Harrington said he stores the water mainly for fire protection, and has pledged to appeal his convictions. “We live in an extreme wildfire area and here the government is going to open the valves and really waste all the water right now, at the start of peak fire season.

The case revolves around a 1925 state law giving the water commission exclusive rights to all the water in Big Butte Creek, its tributaries and Big Butte Springs — the core of the city’s municipal water supply.

Mr. Harrington counters that he is not diverting water from the creek system, merely capturing rainwater and snowmelt from his 172 acres.

Oregon will allow you to collect water from artificial impervious surfaces (roofs, parking lots ) and feed it directly into rain barrels, and you can keep the fallen rain when it lands on your lawns and gardens.

If that water touches the ground, it is the property of the state of Oregon, and you cannot collect it without a permit. Since Oregon owns it, using it without permission is a form of stealing.

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2 Comments so far
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I would be surprised if Oregon were the only western state with such a law. (Eastern states operate under different water regimes.)

Comment by Subsidy Eye

If you recall, I wrote recently about the EPA’s effort to take the Clean Water Act to extremes by assuming that whatever tiny trickle that flows into a brook, that becomes a creek, that drains into a stream, that merges with a river, that flows into a major river, that eventually becomes navigable waters — is something that they may thus regulate because the Act gives them authority over “navigable waters.” You can scroll down and find the piece. Its BS.

Comment by The Elephant's Child




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