Friday, March 25, 2016

Colorado Struggles To Lift Crazy Ban On Rain Barrels

Trust me, rain barrels like this
one won't divert water from Colorado
farmers. Photo from Gardener's Supply.  
Rain barrels make TONS of sense for home gardeners.

Without them, water pours down onto your roof during storms, and gushes out of your drain pipes, and is wasted as it flows across your lawn, and maybe into the storm sewer or something.

Why not collect the rain in barrels, and use that water for your vegetables and flowers when the weather turns dry?  Lots of people do this.

But not in Colorado. Rain barrels are illegal. Lawmakers are trying to overturn the ban, but there's still, incredibly, opposition.

Some of this oppositon comes from Colorado State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, who chairs the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Commitee, according to the Durango Herald.

Sonnenberg worries rain barrels will disrupt the state's system whereby water rights are given to the first person to take water from an aquifer or river, whether or not they are close to that aquifer or river.

He figures that if homeowners collect water in rain barrels, the water won't end up in the aquifers for farmers to use.

Which is ridiculous. If a homeowner collects water in two rain barrels, they'll only get maybe 100 gallons of water. This is a tiny fraction of the amount of water that lands on roofs, driveways and such in a typical garden variety summer hunderstorm.

Even if everyone in a densely populated section of, say Denver or Boulder has a couple rain barrels, the amount of water being diverted from aquafers would pretty much be too small to measure.

A Colorado State University study said that in an average rainfall, about 8,000 gallons of water would fall on a lot with a home. Diverting 100 gallons of that is literally a drop in the bucket, especially if you consider how much water that same homeowner would waste by dragging out the hose or the sprinkler to wet down the perennials and the cucumber patch.

Still, Sonnenberg is paranoid about rain barrel owners stealing "his" rain or something

Support is building big time in the Colorado legislature to repeal the rain barrel ban, but Sonnenberg has some ideas to stymie things if the ban indeed goes away

The Durango Herald says Sonnenberg suggests requiring rain barrel users to register their barrels with the state and have local water providers replace water taken from rooftops.

In other words, open carry of guns might be OK, but openly using rain barrels is not. And imagine the nightmare of trying to figure out how much water each of thousands of rain barrel owners diverted to their flower pots and tomato plants.

Full disclosure: I work at a company called Gardener's Supply, which among a zillion other things, sells rain barrels. They are very popular with gardeners who want an eco-friendly way to keep their gardens green and beautiful and pretty.

Let's hope Colorado lawmakers overcome opposition like that coming from Sonneberg and get some rain barrels beneath rain gutters really soon.

Colorado gardens, and their tenders, will thank them.

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