H.B. 09-1129, Precipitation Harvesting Pilot Projects

Governor Ritter signed H.B. 09-1129 today. The bill sets up pilot projects for rainwater catchments. Here’s a report from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

If you live in the city, don’t install a barrel under your gutter spout just yet. The legislation lets residents on wells collect rain and establishes 10 pilot projects for new developments. Residents on municipal water still can’t legally collect rain, and water suppliers are leery of legislation that would let them…

The bill that Ritter signed Tuesday, HB1129, directs the state to approve 10 pilot projects, new housing or mixed-use developments designed to include rainwater collection. Officials will study the projects through 2020 to see how viable it is to use rain for household irrigation and what impact it has on stream flows. Water suppliers agreed to support the bill because developers and residents in the projects must pay for replacement water for every drop collected in the first two years of study. Residents can then ask a water court to lower the augmentation requirement. Said [State Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan], “I was a little frustrated that we had to augment 100 percent of every drop that comes out of the sky, but at the end of the day, to ensure that senior (water-rights owners) were not going to be negatively affected, the sponsors I worked with on the bill were happy with the 100 percent augmentation requirement.”

Update: From 9News.com (Heidi McGuire):

[State Senator Chris] Romer worked for two years to introduce legislation to change the current law. On Tuesday, Ritter (D-Colorado) signed House Bill 1129 which directs the Colorado water conservation board to select sponsors of up to 10 new residential or mix-use developments that will conduct individual pilot projects. The board will start taking applications from developers the first of next year, which will result in some homeowners having the ability to collect precipitation from rooftops and impermeable surfaces. “The water development community needs to see the pilot programs and needs to see it work well and then we’ll go to the next phase,” Romer said.

The senator eventually hopes he and other people in the state will be able to put moisture that falls in their yard to good use, but he knows changing water laws can be a sensitive subject. “You have to be careful in the west, whether it’s guns, whiskey, and water those are fighting words in Colorado so even I can’t take this molecule off this rainy day into my bucket because somebody else owns that water,” Romer said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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