(KCPW News) It’s been a year since Utah Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins first introduced his rainwater harvesting bill, but he says people are still “a little jumpy” about changing some of the oldest laws in Utah, its water laws. But it’s a common practice that’s becoming more popular as interest in gardening and sustainability grows. Jenkins notes that currently in Utah, people storing rainwater are actually breaking the law.
“Right now they are. And of course the biggest culprit to that is the good old rain barrel. Lots of people have a rain barrel that just slide under the gutter, that’s happened forever,” he said. “And in fact in Utah, that’s breaking the law. That absolutely is.
Senate Bill 32 allows anyone to collect rainwater in 55-gallon barrels or in a 2,500-gallon underground storage tank without having to get a state water right. It passed its first hurdle on the Senate floor yesterday with a 19-to-2 vote.
Republican Senator John Valentine says the bill only carves out a narrow exception to the state’s water laws.
“It’s not a change in the whole basic underpinning and philosophy of the law. It is an exception to that basic philosophy of prior appropriation which is almost universal in the West,” says Valentine.
Senator Jenkins says he has support in the House for the bill, though it may be amended to require those who collect rainwater to register with the state so it can be tracked.