Man Imprisoned for Collecting Rainwater on his Own Land

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 10, 2013
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Tyranny: Man Imprisoned for Collecting Rainwater on his Own Land
On Wednesday, a man entered a jail cell in Oregon to pay his supposed debt to society. The man’s crime? He collected rainwater on his own land.
http://www.tpnn.com/2014/07/09/tyranny-man-imprisoned-for-collecting-rainwater-on-his-own-land/



http://www.oregon.gov/owrd/Pages/law/index.aspx
Under Oregon law, all water is publicly owned. With some exceptions, cities, farmers, factory owners and other users must obtain a permit or water right from the Water Resources Department to use
water from any source— whether it is underground, or from lakes or streams. Landowners with water flowing past, through, or under their property do not automatically have the right to use that water without a permit from the Department.
 

bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
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That is pretty messed up.

I see where the law is coming from; reference the guy that proverbially took a leak in Dawson's Creek when he tapped a kidney, opened the spigot, and cost Portland 38 million gallons of water. But here is where the law backfired.

Seriously, a judge and/or governor should look at this, pardon the guy, and send a note to the legislature to clarify this law.

BL.
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
6,747
4,885
It's not about water from the sky. It's about reservoirs.

For years, Gary Harrington has battled with the Oregon Water Resources Department over reservoirs on his land that collected rainwater. The water officials claim that Harrington is violating a 1925 law by diverting water from the Big Butte River.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
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Jun 10, 2013
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It's not about water from the sky. It's about reservoirs.
see bold.
For years, Gary Harrington has battled with the Oregon Water Resources Department over reservoirs on his land that collected rainwater. The water officials claim that Harrington is violating a 1925 law by diverting water from the Big Butte River.
the officials are claiming that water should be "free" to flow to the river. the river is not being diverted to the reservoirs.
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
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That is pretty messed up..
This guy wasn't just setting a few rain barrels to catch the water than ran off his roof (which is clearly permitted under Oregon law.)

He set up a system of dams and ponds with 13 million gallons of water in them. Water that was illegally diverted from the river system. He stocked these ponds with bass and other game fish, which he further exploited for commercial purposes. And he had been repeatedly warned that his ponds, dams, etc. were in contravention to Oregon law - and yet he persists in violating those judgements.

Water is a public resource. Nobody has the right to blatantly appropriate it for their own purposes, depriving those downstream.
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
6,747
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see bold.

the officials are claiming that water should be "free" to flow to the river. the river is not being diverted to the reservoirs.
He has 13 million gallons of rainwater complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams is verboten.

Capturing water with artificial, with an impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels is not restricted.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
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Jun 10, 2013
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This guy wasn't just setting a few rain barrels to catch the water than ran off his roof (which is clearly permitted under Oregon law.)

He set up a system of dams and ponds with 13 million gallons of water in them. Water that was illegally diverted from the river system. He stocked these ponds with bass and other game fish, which he further exploited for commercial purposes. And he had been repeatedly warned that his ponds, dams, etc. were in contravention to Oregon law - and yet he persists in violating those judgements.

Water is a public resource. Nobody has the right to blatantly appropriate it for their own purposes, depriving those downstream.
He has 13 million gallons of rainwater complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams is verboten.

Capturing water with artificial, with an impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels is not restricted.
how many YEARS did it take for him to collect RAIN WATER to make it there on damns he built?
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2010
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It all depends on the state, it all depends on subtle details, and, I haven't looked at the details. But, on the face of it, the man, and the people getting hysterical, are flat out wrong about their basic assumption. You don't necessarily have a right to all the water that originates on your land. Watch some old westerns about people feuding over water rights. Read some books. Water rights in the West are typically held separately from the land title, just like subsurface mineral rights are. Unless he has title to that water, then, he is just stealing it.

Imagine a different example: a very large series of springs, like the Headwaters of the Metolius river near Camp Sherman in central Oregon. The whole river emerges out the ground. The water rights for that water are held by -- who knows, but, landowners in the neighborhood need water rights before they can drop a hose in and start pumping.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
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Jun 10, 2013
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the man HAD the appropriate permits until the city decided to withdraw them

Apparently, once upon a time, the state did indeed allow Harrington — code name: “Rain Man" — to collect water in his reservoirs. However, officials reversed their decision the same year, 2003, that the three permits were issued, citing a 1925 law that states the city of Medford holds all exclusive rights to "core sources of water" in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/oregon-man-in-possession-of-13-million-gallons-of-illicit-rainwater#ixzz37B1apyXM
his damns were already built & had the water in them, they are essentially back pedaling from what THEY (city) had already allowed & jailed him for it.
 

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,116
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Always a day away
Yeah, if he were collecting water that simply fell from the sky onto his land, I could side with him...but if he's actually restricting the flow of other water going through his land, I have to side with the judge on this one.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,383
UK
the man HAD the appropriate permits until the city decided to withdraw them



his damns were already built & had the water in them, they are essentially back pedaling from what THEY (city) had already allowed & jailed him for it.
The thing is he's capturing water equivalent to 20 Olympic sized swimming pools. It's a hell of a lot more than a typical homeowner would collect and it will be significant enough to make some impact to the river system.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
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The thing is he's capturing water equivalent to 20 Olympic sized swimming pools. It's a hell of a lot more than a typical homeowner would collect and it will be significant enough to make some impact to the river system.
from link
Of course, it boggles the mind as to what a single man needs that much rainwater for. One would assume that Harrington is reusing it both for irrigation purposes and for non-potable indoor use as well, which, unlike in many states, is permitted in Oregon. But 13 million gallons? Apparently Harrington, who has stocked at least one of the reservoirs with largemouth bass and built docks around it, believes that his watery stash is a much-needed necessity when wildfires pop up in the area. “The fish and the docks are icing on the cake," Harrington tells the Medford Mail Tribune. "It's totally committed to fire suppression."

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/oregon-man-in-possession-of-13-million-gallons-of-illicit-rainwater#ixzz37B8V2vV8
the water was already captured, the man HAD permits the city had issued to him.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
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from link


the water was already captured, the man HAD permits the city had issued to him.
Lets say his house is as big as the largest country house in England which has a frontage of 606 feet (184m) and lets assume it is square, then in order to put in a 4 metre wide moat that's two metres deep would need (200*4*4*2) 6400 cubic metres of water or 1.4 million gallons which is about a tenth of the amount of water he has collected.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
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Jun 10, 2013
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Lets say his house is as big as the largest country house in England which has a frontage of 606 feet (184m) and lets assume it is square, then in order to put in a 4 metre wide moat that's two metres deep would need (200*4*4*2) 6400 cubic metres of water or 1.4 million gallons which is about a tenth of the amount of water he has collected.
except he doesn't just have a house, he has plenty of land that need irrigation & water for fire suppression should the need arise. you are overlooking the FACT the man HAD a permit at one time.
 

lostngone

macrumors 65816
Aug 11, 2003
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see bold.

the officials are claiming that water should be "free" to flow to the river. the river is not being diverted to the reservoirs.
I do not take issue with using collected rainwater for personal use. However 13 million gallons isn't what I would call "personal use".
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
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Shady Dale, Georgia
I think the fact that they gave him a permit, then he built the dams and reservoirs... Now they have taken back the permit and want him to release all the water, is pretty crappy.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
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UK
1. why? do you think the water from a few trucks will put out the fire?
No but fires are part of nature. You can't fight it.

I have no issue with him protecting his house, but not his land as well.

In the UK you aren't allowed to stop your land from being flooded, regardless of how rich you are.

2. he got it at any rate.
And then he lost it.
 

Desertrat

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2003
2
706
Terlingua, Texas
Perspective: 13 million gallons = 39 acre-feet. (One acre, one foot deep, is 325,851 gallons.)

Comparison: Oregon is noted for a lot of rain. Texas isn't. In Texas, you can have all the reservoirs on your land that you want, as long as they each hold less than 100 acre-feet. Anything on a flowing stream, you must release the "normal" flow, capturing only flood waters. Obviously no problem when the dam is across a gully.

IOW, IMO, the Oregon law is silly.