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Capturing rain water

Capturing rain water

According to Orange County Public Works, Santa Ana has received 1.58 inches of rain this year when our average for the area is closer to 12.

Every drop counts when it comes to the rainy season not only for washing our landscapes clean and hydrating large plants like trees, but also for what can be captured in our aquifers and dams for later use.

And while municipalities grab what they can for the overall water supply, most homeowners let the rain run off their roofs, down the driveway into storm drains, and out to sea. If your rain is captured by a municipality, you pay to get it back on your water bill.

Capturing and keeping rainwater on your property is easy and free and works to water vegetable gardens and potted plants.

You simply set up a system of roof-type gutters to direct rainwater into a rain barrel. You can use that water later in the year to hydrate trees, vegetable gardens, and container plants.

While rain is a gift from the sky, consider that in some places it isn’t. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, if you live in Colorado, rainwater doesn’t belong to you.

You can capture rainwater in Colorado only if you have a certain kind of well, or participate in select real estate development projects.

The Colorado Division of Water Resources says upfront in their rules, “Colorado water law declares that the state of Colorado claims the right to all the moisture in the atmosphere that falls within its borders…” Imagine that.

Utah also has restrictions. While you can capture rainwater on your property in rain barrels or cisterns, 100 gallons is the most you can keep – essentially, two bathtub fulls.

In Oregon, one man served 30 days in jail and paid a $1500 fine in 2012 for capturing 13 million gallons in his man-made reservoir, according to Fox News.

In California, rain belongs to everyone. But here too, it wasn’t always legal. Before the “Rainwater Capture Act of 2012,” homeowners needed a permit.

Currently, rain barrels can be used without a permit. But if you’re thinking cistern, you’ll need to check with officials and find out the limits you can collect with your local water district.

There are other rules about capturing rainwater to keep in mind: Rainwater is non-potable (drinkable) and rain barrels should be labeled as such. Overflows need to be discharged to safe locations.

You’ll need a screen to prevent mosquito breeding and child safety precautions should be heeded. For health reasons, indoor use is prohibited.