Success! Care2 Activists Help Make Rain Barrels Legal in Colorado

How can it be that conserving rainwater in some places is illegal?

This was the case in the state of Colorado, where using rain barrels to catch rainwater was a criminal offense, subject to a $500 fine.

Care2 member Chris Wolverton heard about this ridiculous situation, but then she found out about a bill that would legalize rain barrels. So she decided to start a Care2 petition urging Colorado legislators to vote yes on the proposal. 


Wolverton was thrilled that her petition garnered more than 18,000 signatures. And on May 12, she learned that local activists, boosted by the support of all those Care2 members, had overturned Colorado’s ridiculous ban on rain barrels, when Governor Hickenlooper signed HR 16-1105 into law.

The law will take effect on August 10, when Colorado residents will be allowed to own up to two, 55-gallon rain barrels.

As Wolverton points out in her petition, 

“Using rain barrels fights drought, cuts water bills and encourages gardeners to be more self-sufficient and conscious of the environment.”

So perhaps you are wondering why collecting water in a rain barrel could possibly be illegal? Here’s what Republican State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg had to say last year, according to the Denver Post, “It’s like growing flowers. You can’t go over and pick your neighbors’ flowers just because you’re only picking a few. They’re not your flowers.”

Antiquated Water Laws Make No Sense

Sonnenberg’s reasoning was that any water falling from the sky belongs to the state. He based his argument on a strict interpretation of the antiquated water laws of the American West.

As ThinkProgress explains:

“Colorado is one of many states that operate under a prior appropriation system whereby people with ‘senior’ water rights get access before those with ‘junior’ water rights. In a water-constrained world, they argue, there won’t be enough to go around. And senior water right holders are worried that urban farmers and lawn-lovers will impinge on their allocations by collecting rain off their roofs.”

However, Wolverton’s petition makes it clear that:

“Water and agriculture lobbies should not have control over a person’s conscious choice to conserve water. Collecting rainwater in barrels is obviously more economical and ecologically friendly than using hoses and sprinklers, and helps people be more conscious of the environment, which will make a positive influence on their attitude towards conservation in all facets of their lives.”

And a study from Colorado State University discredited Senator Sonnenberg’s argument by noting that use of rain barrels would not decrease the amount of surface runoff going to downstream users.

Congratulations to Chris Wolverton for creating a petition that put together solid arguments to refute the outdated Colorado water laws. And thank you to all the Care2 activists who signed her petition.

Wolverton made a difference, and so can you. If you have an issue that you are passionate about, why not start your own Care2 petition? Use this handy guide to get started, and soon you’ll find Care2 members signing up to join you in your cause.



Photo Credit: thinkstock


Steve F
Steve F2 years ago

The legislation that disallowed rain barrels was an example of misguided thinking. Rejoice that it was overturned.

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

How was that illegal in the first place? Crazy world!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Saeeda M.
Saeeda Makhlooq3 years ago

Excellent. Well done!

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

Petition signed and shared. Fantastic news. Thank you for caring and sharing.

Marie W.
Marie W3 years ago

Rain barrels make sense.

Vivian B.
Vivian B3 years ago


Haley G.
Haley G3 years ago


Erika Ballinas
Erika Ballinas3 years ago

Of course!! bam!

S M.
S M3 years ago

Well done!
Remember in southern areas and risk of mozzies always keep barrel covered.