Last year, a similar bill failed due to neglect. In a procedural maneuver conservatives let the bill die by failing to consider it. The obstructionists were fearful of losing any amount of water to downstream users.
This fear persists despite repeated studies showing runoff from urban and suburban house roofs soaks into the ground and does not contribute to stream flows. This is a fact that has been investigated and proven over and over by other universities all around the USA.
On February 23, 2016, the latest rain barrel law actually passed out of the House Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources committee. HB16-1005 is sponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar, Pueblo, Rep. Jessie Danielson, Wheat Ridge, and Sen. Michael Merrifield of Pikes Peak. The bill is officially entitled “Residential Precipitation Collection”. The committee’s final vote on the bill was recorded today as shown below.
FINAL VOTE – Refer House Bill 16-1005, as amended, to the Committee of the Whole. The motion passed on a vote of 10-2.
From here the rain barrel law goes to the entire house (the ‘Committee of the Whole’) for debate, unless it is again obstructed by fearful conservatives. If it manages to find a place on the House calendar then it will be debated. As with any bill, this is but one step in a convoluted and frustrating process. The bill can be killed or allowed to die quietly at any number of steps. While today’s success is encouraging, it is by no means a guarantee of passage.
What can you do to ensure that we Coloradoans have the right to water our gardens with rainwater? Contact your representative and senator and voice your support for the Rain Barrel law. Refer to House Bill 16-1005. Explain why you think this is a good idea. Thank them for considering your support. Here are a few talking points you can use.
- Using rooftop rainwater on residential landscaping is common sense
- Using water from rain barrels saves treated, municipal water
- All the water from a roof soaks into the lawn anyway
- CSU has studied this and found that rain barrels do not reduce stream flows
- Rain barrels delay and reduce flooding in heavy rain
- Collecting rainwater reduces erosion and silt in streams
- 49 other US states allow residential rainwater collection
- Throughout the western US rain barrels help conserve water
- People who use rain barrels are more aware of water use and conserve more
- It’s OK for Colorado to follow in the footsteps of other states on this issue
Contact your reps: Colorado Legislature
The Colorado Rain Barrel law of 2016 is here.