Harvesting Rainwater in Colorado – Can it be Done?

I recently had a conversation about water usage and rights in Colorado. For years we have known that the water that falls from the sky is off limits. Back in July of 2009 that changed, sort of. It is true that with the passage of Senate Bill 09-080 land owners are now able to utilize rainwater. However, very few people are actually eligible. Here is a rundown of the requirements to harvest rainwater in Colorado:

1. The property on which the collection takes place is residential property, and

2. The landowner uses a well, or is legally entitled to a well, for the water supply, and

3. The well is permitted for domestic uses, and

4. There is no water supply available in the area from a municipality or water district, and

5. The rainwater is collected only from the roof, and

6. The water is used only for those uses that are allowed by, and identified on, the well permit.

As you can see the requirements are quite strict and very few people are actually eligible to use rainwater. Someone who wants to use rainwater must meet all of these criteria for the new law to come into play. This is good new for those on well or do not have a municipal source of water. It is business as usual for those in who have municipal or water district water.


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3 thoughts on “Harvesting Rainwater in Colorado – Can it be Done?”

  1. John,

    So far as I understand Colorado water law, water can only be stored for up to 72 hours by someone who already has “direct flow” rights. Even then the storage of the water must be justified and 100% of the water appropriated downstream must still be supplied.

    I have written a new post that addresses this in more detail. Check back soon to read it!


  2. Thanks for the information Anthony! For the remainder of the state, isn’t it true that there is a 72 hour law in which rainwater can be captured and dispersed as long as the water is not contained for 72 hours? There are many effective ways to utilize rainwater, especially in the landscape. Good landscape planning and coordination between the Civil Engineer and Landscape Architect are crucial. Thanks for sharing!

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