Colorado governor signs law allowing residents to use rain barrels

Updated Jun 14, 2016
Homeowners are now permitted to use rain barrels in Colorado. Photo: barb howe/FlickrHomeowners are now permitted to use rain barrels in Colorado.
Photo: barb howe/Flickr

Rainwater harvesting was reported to be the most popular landscaping project requested for 2016, and now Colorado residents can participate in this water conservation method as well.

In May, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill that allows Coloradans to use rain barrels to collect rainwater, a practice that had been illegal for most residents of the state.

Previously, only landowners who were dependent on wells for their water supply were permitted to harvest rainwater. Urban dwellers were forbidden to collect rainwater based on long-established water rights.

The new legislation, which takes effect Aug. 10, will allow households to use two barrels to collect a maximum of 110 gallons. Multi-unit buildings with four or less households are also allowed to collect rainwater.

The water collected may only be used for gardening or landscaping, and the barrel is required to have a sealable lid to prevent the breeding of mosquitos.

HOAs are prohibited from banning the use of rain barrels as long as the law’s requirements are followed.

The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) says landscapers should advise their customers not to attempt to install a rain barrel themselves.

“Repurposing something into a rain barrel can be a problem if not done properly or without forethought,” ALCC said. “For example, using a light-colored tank will allow algae to grow. And using a tank that previously held other liquids (food, drink) can result in bacteria; you don’t want to attract bugs or water your plants with sugar water.”

Clients should also be informed about what kind of care is required when possessing a rain barrel. These containers should be regularly checked, emptied and cleaned.

If there is any confusion about whether something is legal, contact the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

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