Here’s What Big Government Says About Your Right to Use a Rain Barrel

Uh-oh… now we’re in trouble.

If we disappear for a few days soon, it’s because we’re on the lam.

We all knew it would happen eventually… but not like this, not because of something so dumb.

On Tuesday, we published something we shouldn’t have.

We gave some advice that could turn readers into lawbreakers.

We hope the authorities didn’t notice.

Here’s the deal. In Tuesday’s popular “Rooster’s Crow” segment (we include this as part of our daily e-letter – learn more here), we extolled the wisdom of collecting rainwater. It’s a simple, effective way to gather a lot of water quickly.

Ah, but we’d better be careful, some readers told us. Folks have gone to jail for collecting rain.

Crime and Punishment

We scratched our head and remembered that a man named Gary Harrington was tossed in the slammer for a month in 2012. The 64-year-old Oregon resident was jailed for harvesting the water that fell on his property.

You may recall that the story went viral for a few days.

While this sounds like something the hand of Big Government would be behind, it’s a good reminder to readers that much of what we see on the nightly news has had the facts scrubbed away in the name of producing a good story.

Gary Harrington was absolutely tossed in jail. That’s all fact.

But he wasn’t just filling up a few buckets under his downspout. No, he created dams and reservoirs on his property that backed up enough water to fill 20 Olympic-size swimming pools. He even built a boat dock on his new lake.

You see, in Oregon – as it is in many Western states – water is considered a public commodity. For one man to stockpile so much of it has long been considered a crime.

Gathering water from rooftops or even parking lots is not illegal in the state.


That said, not all who live in the land of the free have the Liberty to collect all the rain they want.

Far from it.

Liquid Assets

In Arkansas, for example, a resident can collect rainwater for non-potable purposes if the system is designed by a licensed engineer, has cross-connection safeguards and meets the state’s plumbing code.

Don’t even think about tossing a bucket under the downspout, you crook.

Colorado, which until just a few years ago had very strict regulations on collecting rainwater, has loosened its grip… but is still stringent. Residents are limited to just two rain barrels with a combined capacity of 110 gallons or less, and the water must be used outside.

Don’t drink it, or you may end up on the evening news.

Catching rain was flat-out illegal in Nevada until as recently as June. It took quite the fight to get a bill to the governor’s desk.

Utah allows it… with limits.

If you’ve got a permit, you can collect up to 2,500 gallons. Without that letter from the state, though, a homeowner’s limited to just two containers.


But the news isn’t all bad. Not only is collecting rainwater perfectly legal in most states (proving there’s still hope for our great nation), but some states are actually promoting it.

States like Florida, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas all have programs designed to incentivize folks to collect water. They realize that rain collection not only takes some strain off public systems, but also promotes independence and self-reliance – two ideas most states are deathly afraid of.

Once again, this topic brings us back to the stark differences between freedom and Liberty.

Like we said earlier in the week, freedom simply means the ability to make decisions or perform actions without external control.

But Liberty means freedom that has been granted by some sort of external element, typically our society or government.

In other words, as humans, we’re inherently free to collect all the rain we want. But as citizens of local, state and federal governments (now to include regime-like HOAs), we often don’t have the Liberty.

That’s why we say it’s not freedom a man needs to be healthy, happy and wealthy… it’s Liberty.

He’s born with all the freedom he needs. He just needs the Liberty to go and get it.

Just don’t try to collect it in a barrel. You might get us in trouble.

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