Rainwater Collection Plans and Urban Farming: Rainwater is Part of Water Rights
Last night, while watching the Olympics, advertised a piece on collecting rainwater for watering the garden. Â It seems that this practice is illegal, as it is technically stealing from those that have purchased water rights downstream of wherever you are. Â Water rights, in Suburbia? Â The first thing you need to understand is that Utah, despite the growing urban sprawl in the Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, and Weber counties, is an Agricultural State. Â Our laws were originally written to protect the rights of farmers from other farmers, and those laws stay on the books. Â With dwindling farmland in the Salt Lake valley in particular, the water rights laws seem to be more archaic than applicable. Â But note, I said dwindling, not non-existent. Â There are still some farms, generally small, in the area around my home. Â So taking the water that someone else has spent money to procure would be stealing, and as I support farming in all forms it just isn't something I could do in all good conscience.So what is the urban farmer do to in order to decrease drinking water usage? Â Is there no hope? Â Does the urban farmer need to forever be a slave to municipal water districts and their high Â fees? Â That's what I am about to find out. Â I started by emailing the director of the Utah Division of Water Resources, and the Salt Lake representative to see what exactly would be their recommended course of action. Â I intend to complete this project, which would not only provide water for my plants, but also help "fuel" my aquaculture program as well. Â But I want it to be legal. Â There is at least one possible recourse, which is what Mark Miller Toyota took in order to use the rainwater that landed on their roof for car washes: Â he worked out a deal with the Salt Lake City public works department to use their name to divert the rainwater into their cisterns. Â Perhaps a similar course of action could be accomplished for residents. Â After all, no self respecting urban farmer would want to be in violation of the law while accomplishing their goal. Â Once I get an answer from Water Resources, I will post it.