Can I use a rain barrel to collect water from my roof in Colorado?
Legislation passed in 2016 allows for small-scale residential collection of rain from rooftops.
Who can use rain barrels?
State law allows the use of rain barrels at single family homes or attached multi-family homes with four or fewer units.
How much water can I collect?
The law allows up to two rain barrels with a combined storage capacity of 110 gallons. Depending on the amount of precipitation in any one year, a household could save between 1,300-2,100 gallons of water per year.
Are there any rules I must follow if I decide to use a rain barrel?
Yes, rain barrel use is allowed under the following circumstances:
- Water collected cannot be used for drinking.
- No more than two rain barrels with a combined storage capacity of 110 gallons or less may be used.
- Precipitation is collected from the rooftop of a building that is used primarily as a single-family residence or a multi-family residence with four or fewer units.
- The collected precipitation is used for outdoor purposes including irrigation of lawns and gardens.
- The collected precipitation is used on the residential property on which the precipitation is collected.
- Rain barrels must be covered on the top to control insects (mainly mosquitos).
Where can I purchase a rain barrel?
They are commonly found at your local hardware or home improvement store or through a search on the internet.
Can I use a rain barrel if I live in a common interest community (homeowners association)?
Yes, with a condition:
- A common interest community or homeowners association may impose reasonable aesthetic requirements that govern the placement or external appearance of a rain barrel.
If I have more questions about this law, who can I contact?
The Colorado Division of Water Resources (Office of the State Engineer) has additional information. You can contact them at 303-866-3581.
General water law
Does Denver Water sell water to other states, such as California?
Denver Water does not sell water outside the state of Colorado. No one else sells water to California either, because it is not permissible to sell Colorado’s water outside the state.
The water that flows from the Colorado River to California was allocated under the 1922 Colorado River Compact, which is an agreement among the upper basin and lower basin states about how to allocate water in the Colorado River. Each state was allocated a portion of the river’s flow, and those states that did not take all the water they were entitled to had their rights preserved forever. (Normally, under western water law, if one doesn’t use the water to which he/she has rights, those rights can be taken away.)
Because Colorado didn’t have enough demand in 1922, it did not (and still does not) take its entire share of water to which it was entitled. California, however, has taken more than its share for many years. Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior moved to stop California from taking more than its share. That water is being held in a reservoir on the lower Colorado River now. The compact was affirmed by Congress and is a part of federal law now. It can only be terminated by an act of Congress and with the unanimous consent of the compact states.