Man Goes To Jail For Collecting Rainwater On His Own Property

August 9, 2012

Man Goes To Jail For Collecting Rainwater On His Own Property
Kendra Alleyne writes at CNSNews.com about Gary Harrington, an Oregon man who was convicted of collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his property who’s just begun serving a 30-day jail sentence for it:

“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington told a small crowd of people gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail.

…Harrington was found guilty two weeks ago of breaking a 1925 law for having, what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property. He was convicted of nine misdemeanors, sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1500 for collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his property.

The Oregon Water Resources Department, claims that Harrington has been violating the state’s water use law by diverting water from streams running into the Big Butte River.

But Harrington says he is not diverting the state’s water — merely collecting rainwater and snow melt that falls or flows on his own property.

More here. And more from Opposing Views:

According to Oregon water laws, all water is publicly owned. Therefore, anyone who wants to store any type of water on their property must first obtain a permit from state water managers.

Though the state Water Resources Department initially approved Harrington’s permits in 2003, the state, and a state court, ultimately reversed the decision.

Harrington said: “They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said ‘No, you can’t have them,’ so I’ve been fighting it ever since.”

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  • http://twitter.com/BohemianCottage Charlotte Rainbow

    Dear State of Oregon Politicians… as far as I can tell “GOD”
    owns the rain.. so you are stealing from his people..be very careful..with your ignorance.

    • http://www.facebook.com/psonava Seth Hutchens

      No she doesn’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Henry-Thoreau/100000716315586 Henry Thoreau

    We are coming so very close to the causes of the Declaration of Independence, it’s no longer an issue of if, but when.

  • Duridy Duridy

    Read the referenced articles. First of all, in Oregon you are allowed to collect rainwater from roofs, gutters, etc. Second, what this guy was doing was diverting and damming streams. Regardless of the law on that, I could see how if you were downstream from this guy and your stream dried up, you might be a bit ticked off… especially if you depended on it for recreation, fishing, or irrigation, etc. He also built 20 ft high dams without permits, which if you were downstream from one and it failed, might not be much fun at all.

    • DavidFairbanks

      In both of the imaginary scenarios you mentioned there would be a real victim.

      If you are concerned that your neighbor might be doing something that is unsafe, you should probably talk to him, not have him tossed in a cage for a month.

  • http://twitter.com/lagnin Justin Riley

    The guy got fined for haveing retention ponds without a permit not for stealing rain the fact that so many people can’t tell the difference is a very sad statement on how much the right wing overlooks facts so they have an outlet for mock outrage

    • DavidFairbanks

      Some people believe they should be able to make alterations to their property without getting your permission. He’s not renting it from the government. He owns it.

      Please don’t bring up the ‘safety’ argument, it doesn’t apply in this case.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.broderick.353 Bill Broderick

        Dave, when you own property you own a bundle of rights. Those rights do not include behaviors that affect other property owners. Can’t you figure out that you just can’t dam up streams on your own.

        • DavidFairbanks

          I’ll make sure to get your permission before I start collecting rain water.

        • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.thomas.169 Sebastian Thomas

          well said

      • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.thomas.169 Sebastian Thomas

        He owns the land not the water, and why not bring up safety.. if he has no permit then whos to say its reasonably safe without biast ehh?

        • DavidFairbanks

          If you own the land, then you can dig some holes in it. (Unless water collects in those holes, apparently.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.thomas.169 Sebastian Thomas

      good point but far fetched idea of right wing agenda

  • http://www.chonilla.com/ Chonilla

    Moving to Oregon… Uncheck

  • Bymynishus

    Holy crap, this article doesn’t mention his one 10′ and one 20′ high dam, boat docks and pond stocked with fish. I can see 20 Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water being a bit excessive. Though it’s still on his property.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.thomas.169 Sebastian Thomas

      good info

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonny.smiles1 Jonny Smiles

      only stupid hippies(ie most Oregonians) would have a problem with a man collecting water(no matter how much it is) on his own property

      • http://twitter.com/Sightlab75 Thom

        You’re thinking of Portlanders. Most Oregonians are conservative farmers. They have to manage water because the bulk of Oregon that isn’t rainforest is scrubby desert.

      • http://profiles.google.com/ne7minder larry longmore

        Those are some pretty amazing hippies considering the law he was charged under was passed in the 1920s – thats some forward thinking hippies!

        Oh, and the reason those laws were passed was to ensure that the farmers had a fair chance at the water. So not only were those hippies 40+ years ahead of their time they were disguised as rock-ribbed farmers.

      • Bymynishus

        You don’t know Oregon, Portland is the only liberal section. The rest of the state is pretty strongly conservative and religious. It’s mostly farmers or even desert to the east. I believe there’s still a dry county (no booze) in the southeast. Also there’s a bunch of militia camps in the east. Even some of those white power groups live out there.

  • http://obbop.wordpress.com/ obbop

    Reading some of the comments about how what you do on your own property has no effect on others I have decided to start building a small fission nuclear power plant in my back yard.

    I will convert to fusion reaction once it is perfected.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.thomas.169 Sebastian Thomas

      smart ass

      • http://obbop.wordpress.com/ obbop


        Much better than being a dumb ass!! :)

    • Bymynishus

      Nuclear power is one of the cleanest forms out there. It’s just that when things go bad, they can get really bad. Modern tech like thorium reactors and pebble beds can just about eliminate the chance of meltdown though. Only prob is people are so scared of nuclear it’s hard to get a permit to build anything new!

Right. Man up. Buy the book now on Amazon.com. Or listen to Ronnie tell a story at escaping-from-reality.com.