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Is it Illegal to Collect Rainwater in Colorado?

As a bunch or prepper, you would like to be prepared for anything and the whole lot the world can throw at you. One of the situations you fear is that you could run out of supplies – especially water.

Colorado flag

Now, a method around that is to gather rainwater for later use.

Unfortunately, not all states allow rainwater harvesting and sometimes there are very strict restrictions on rainwater harvesting where it’s allowed.

Where does Colorado fall on this scale? Is rainwater harvesting legal or illegal in Colorado?

No, harvesting rainwater in Colorado will not be illegal, but it’s essential to have a well permit that means that you can use the harvested water domestically.

There must even be no available municipal/county water supply and picked up water may only be used for specified purposes. Collected water must not exceed a capability of 110 gallons.

Rainwater harvesting only became legal in Colorado in 2016, so more on that later…

Rainwater harvesting regulations in Colorado

Now that we have checked out the correct to water related to rainwater harvesting, let us take a look at the actual rainwater harvesting laws.

Senate Bill 09-080

Law 09-080 was passed in 2009 and allows rainwater harvesting if:

  • The property is residential.
  • The landowner/resident uses or has permission to have a well
  • A well permit permits backyard use for harvested rainwater
  • There isn’t any city or county water supply
  • Water is taken ONLY from the roof
  • The water is used ONLY for the needs laid out in the well permit

House bill 09-1129

This act allows using collected rainwater for brand spanking new real estate projects. The Water Protection Authority has a set of project selection criteria.

Rainwater harvesting should be a viable option. The project in query must also include good landscaping and irrigation practices.

If the project is approved by the board, it’s allowed to gather rain runoff in an amount equal to the quantity absorbed by the vegetation before the beginning of implementation.

37-96.5-103 – Revised Colorado Statute

The state of Colorado revised its rainwater harvesting laws in 2016 – allowing rainwater harvesting as much as a maximum capability of 110 gallons.

Two rain barrels are allowed for a single-family house/apartment and 4 barrels for a multi-family house/apartment.

That doesn’t suggest you may have more water. Maximum capability continues to be 110 gallons; the whole maximum amount may not exceed 110 gallons.

110 gallon limit

Until 2016, rainwater harvesting was illegal in Colorado. That was until state lawmakers voted to permit people to store rainwater that fell from their roofs – with a limited capability of 110 gallons per household.

The captured water is NOT for use indoors or for drinking and should be used to water grass, plants and gardens – unless you meet a certain set of necessities and procure a certain variety of permit under the Conscription Law.

Water rights in Colorado

Colorado has a really… interesting way of doing things. They have what is known as a priority system – mainly, first come, first served.

The water is shared but in case you are first in line you get priority within the water. This system dates back to the California Gold Rush (1848-1855).

Miners/beggars, in the event that they could afford it, would use high-pressure hoses to essentially blow up a part of the slope – the runoff of which might flow through chests that may capture any loose gold fragments.

This method wasn’t… the perfect. This was extremely damaging to the environment and put an enormous strain on local water resources – not good in case you live in a really dry area (e.g. California).

This happened since the miners were sucking water from the local water supply.

To make things fair, the miners and beggars followed the old rule of portioning, whereby in case you were the primary to dig a canal in a spot, you’ll get water in that spot.

Over time, western states began to observe and regulate the practice. They handed out water permits in certain quantities and within the order people got here for them.

If you were third on the list, you were the third person to be allowed a certain quantity.

All of this has resulted in a system that monitors who uses the water, when and for what purpose. This system also defines what uses are allowed.

The strict regulations discuss with a 120-year-old law that mainly says you may deprive another person of water (since rainwater can flow into another person’s water source).

Today, the concept/practice of prior appropriation is disregarded, however the scarcity of water meant that it needed to be metered as residents couldn’t depend on streams and the like to supply them with water.

Water needed to be brought in from elsewhere, which meant that a system was needed to make sure the productive use of water (e.g. in agriculture).

Rainwater use/gathering is closely monitored as Colorado’s climate may be very dry, meaning little or no rainfall, so every drop counts.

It can also be monitored to be certain that those that were first in line usually are not, for lack of a greater word, tricked into using the water.


  • Extra water on your garden
  • Less load on the domestic pump
  • It promotes maintenance


Disadvantages of rainwater harvesting in Colorado include:

  • Water withdrawal and consumption is closely monitored
  • Labor intensive
  • Not at all times a foolproof approach to doing things
  • Possible contamination

Common misunderstandings

One of the most important misconceptions about harvesting rainwater is that it’s a straightforward thing to do.

You must give you the option to put in and maintain the system and ensure it’s drained and disconnected at the top of the season. The system also must be winterized to survive the cruel cold temperatures.

Another common misconception is that 110 gallons is a whole lot of water, and unfortunately it will not be. If you are not careful, you may wear it out in a short time.

is it price it?

For all of the downsides of rainwater harvesting in Colorado, it’s definitely price doing.

This is strategy to lower your utility bills and teach your kids to save lots of water. You may even change into more aware of how much water you employ in a day and regulate it more precisely.

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