The NCSL Blog


Bob Dylan cast his paean to a lady he loved as Buckets of Rain and now Colorado residents can legally collect up to 110 gallons of sky tears.

Photo credit: Grace Hood, Colorado Public RadioIn Colorado, where water governance focuses concern on downstream users, allowing residents to collect rainwater has been an uphill battle—although prosecuting rainwater collecting scofflaws has never been much of a priority.

The debate is over with the passage of House Bill 1005 which will allow rainwater collection for small-scale residential use.

After House Bill 1259 failed last year, the Colorado Legislature was able to reach compromise to pass House Bill 1005 and Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law earlier this month. The new law allows residents to use two barrels to collect up to 110 gallons. The state engineer will track adoption of small-scale residential rainwater collection and any impacts on downstream users.

NCSL's Mindy Bridges recently appeared on Colorado Public Radio to discuss the new law and you can check out NCSL's rainwater harvesting page here.

Rainwater harvesting is not a new issue for the Colorado Legislature. In 2009, Senate Bill 80 passed allowing residential property owners with certain types of wells to collect and use rainwater as well as House Bill 1129 authorizing ten pilot projects to use collected rainwater for non-potable uses in new real estate development.

Recently, Colorado created the  Colorado Water Plan, a state-wide water planning endeavor bringing together interests from multiple water basins. Many other states  have engaged in similar efforts to address water supply planning, whereas some states, like Connecticut are currently focusing on these issues.

A combination of legislation, regulation, and technical resources at state and local levels support the practice of rainwater harvesting across the nation.

A diverse group of states, from Hawaii to Illinois to Colorado, implement rainwater collection legislation for a variety of policy reasons including: drought, supply planning, green infrastructure, conservation, and storm water control. Rainwater harvesting or catchment provides for non-potable uses (e.g., landscaping and irrigation) and decreases possible strains on existing potable water treatment and supply systems.

As for those newly legalized Colorado rainwater collectors, well we can only imagine their reaction:

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.