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Utah Legislature: Rainwater could be legally yours

SALT LAKE CITY — The rain drops collecting in the bucket on your back porch may soon be legally yours under a measure endorsed Thursday by a legislative committee.

Sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the current version of SB32 allows for the collection of rainwater in a single underground tank of up to 2,500 gallons and in two above-ground containers limited to 100 gallons each.

While collecting or harvesting rainwater has been a habitual practice for years in the state, it has been officially "illegal" because the state owns the water rights.

In urging support of the measure, Jenkins has said it's senseless to prohibit the behavior as long as certain limits are in place. Residents often collect precipitation, he said, to throw on gardens or augment other landscaping or agricultural needs. Many lawmakers have agreed with Jenkins, pointing to their own grandparents who collected rain water to use for washing laundry.

The bill does require would-be harvesters to register online with the state water engineer's office and supply information about how much is to be collected and the collection point of the rainwater.

After an 11-3 vote, the bill, which has already passed in the Senate, will now move to the full House for consideration.

Read the bill at le.utah.gov/~2010/htmdoc/sbillhtm/SB0032S01.htm

— Amy Joi O'Donoghue