Who Owns the Rain?


Engorged with water pirated from its rightful human owners, a Coccora (Amanita calyptroderma) emerges from the forest floor

Just when we were thinking no one could be more dysfunctional than our community and state when it comes to dealing with limited water supplies, the LA Times publishes an article describing how water districts in Colorado are complaining that homeowners using rain barrels to capture run-off from their roofs are stealing water in violation of law. The rainwater, they say, is the property of downstream water rights holders from the moment it falls from the clouds. This in spite of at least one study suggesting that something like 97% of the rain that falls in Colorado never makes it into the streams anyway.

But if they’re already taking a holistic-to-the-point-of-absurdity approach to basin management in Colorado, we don’t suppose we can be far behind. And this makes us wonder whether we won’t soon be seeing ….

♣ Carmel Valley residents allowed to buy Carmel River water from Cal-Am to water their yards, but prohibited from collecting rainwater for the same purpose because it “belongs” to Cal-Am and other holders of Carmel River water rights;

♣ Monterey Peninsula residents, who get caught in the rain in Salinas then drive home in wet clothes, cited for illegal inter-basin transfers;

♣ Cachagua residents, who pump water for their homes from deep aquifers, then run it through their septic systems and into the Carmel River, demanding compensation for “augmenting” the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply; and

♣ Carmel Valley residents, who use Cal-Am water, run it through their septic systems and right back into Cal-Am’s pumps, arguing they shouldn’t have to pay as much for their water because they’re only “borrowing” it.

So be careful to caution your kids against building dams in the gutter or catching snowflakes with their tongue. It’s piracy and stealing – kind of like sharing a favorite song with a friend.

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