BREAKING: Man Gets Prison Sentence For Collecting Rainwater On His Property



Collecting rainwater on your own property in the U.S. can now lead to jail time, as has been proven by a man from Oregon who was sentenced to prison for doing just that.  Who owns the rain? The US government, apparently.

Not so long ago, it was common practice across much of the world to collect rainwater into man made wells on your property to use for farming, irrigation and having fresh clean water.  It was just as common as canning your own food, having knowledge of at least some basic survival skills, and being self-sufficient.

It wasn’t even that many generations ago that all of this was common practice – people born before WWII were pretty adept at these skills, as they were a necessity to survival.  One of the main (and easiest) ways to ensure survival was to collecting rainwater on your own property.  The practical uses for storing and collecting rainwater are numerous and many people across the world in rural areas still do it today for all of the reasons listed above.  However, over the past few years, laws making the collection of rainwater illegal have been causing an uproar across the US.

Now, a man from Grey Point, Oregon has been sentenced to thirty days in prison for storing collected rainwater on his very own property – and the public is outraged.

According to CNS News :

A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.


Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property – and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.

“The government is bullying,” Harrington told in an interview Thursday.

“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.

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The court has given Harrington two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.


Harrington said the case first began in 2002, when state water managers told him there were complaints about the three “reservoirs” – ponds – on his more than 170 acres of land.

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.

It is Now ILLEGAL to Collect RAIN WATER! Why?



Harrington said he applied for three permits to legally house reservoirs for storm and snow water runoff on his property. One of the “reservoirs” had been on his property for 37 years, he said.

Though the state Water Resources Department initially approved his permits in 2003, the state – and a state court — ultimately reversed the decision.

“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,” Harrington told

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The case, he said, is centered on a 1925 law which states that the city of Medford holds exclusive rights to “all core sources of water” in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.


“Way back in 1925 the city of Medford got a unique withdrawal that withdrew all — supposedly all — the water out of a single basin and supposedly for the benefit of the city of Medford,” Harrington told

Harrington told, however, that the 1925 law doesn’t mention anything about colleting rainwater or snow melt — and he believes that he has been falsely accused.

“The withdrawal said the stream and its tributaries. It didn’t mention anything about rainwater and it didn’t mention anything about snow melt and it didn’t mention anything about diffused water, but yet now, they’re trying to expand that to include that rain water and they’re using me as the goat to do it,” Harrington


But Tom Paul, administrator of 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.

“The law that he is actually violating is not the 1925 provision, but it’s Oregon law that says all of the water in the state of Oregon is public water and if you want to use that water, either to divert it or to store it, you have to acquire a water right from the state of Oregon before doing that activity,” Paul told

Yet Paul admitted the 1925 law does apply because, he said, Harrington constructed dams to block a tributary to the Big Butte, which Medford uses for its water supply.


“There are dams across channels, water channels where the water would normally flow if it were not for the dam and so those dams are stopping the water from flowing in the channel and storing it- holding it so it cannot flow downstream,” Paul told

Harrington, however, argued in court that that he is not diverting water from Big Butte Creek, but the dams capturing the rainwater and snow runoff – or “diffused water” – are on his own property and that therefore the runoff does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state water managers, nor does it not violate the 1925 act.

In 2007, a Jackson County Circuit Court judge denied Harrington’s permits and found that he had illegally “withdrawn the water at issue from appropriation other than for the City of Medford.”

According to Paul, Harrington entered a guilty plea at the time, received three years probation and was ordered to open up the water gates.

“A very short period of time following the expiration of his probation, he once again closed the gates and re-filled the reservoirs,” Paul told “So, this has been going on for some time and I think frankly the court felt that Mr. Harrington was not getting the message and decided that they’d already given him probation once and required him to open the gates and he refilled his reservoirs and it was business as usual for him, so I think the court wanted — it felt it needed — to give a stiffer penalty to get Mr. Harrington’s attention.”

In two weeks, if unsuccessful in his appeals, Harrington told that he will report to the Jackson County Jail to serve his sentence.

“I follow the rules. If I’m mandated to report, I’m going to report. Of course, I’m going to do what it takes in the meantime to prevent that, but if I’m not successful, I’ll be there,” Harrington said.

But Harrington also said that he will never stop fighting the government on this issue.

“When something is wrong, you just, as an American citizen, you have to put your foot down and say, ‘This is wrong; you just can’t take away anymore of my rights and from here on in, I’m going to fight it.”

What are your thoughts on collecting rainwater – especially when it is on your own property?  Who do you think should “own” the rain?

The Lost Ways…a true story about our grandparents days!

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lost ways



According to CNS News (source)


  1. Heather Frye 6 May, 2016 at 21:54 Reply

    He doesnt want to use it to divert it or store it he wants to use the rainwater to drink it and bathe in it and do his laundry in it. Law is about wording things right but i think before i would take this on i would have tried to petition with signatures to force it to a vote to change the law to be more reasonable. When you buy the property I thought you owned everything beneath and above it and the rights had to be expressed before the passing of the property in its entirety.
    so technically doesnt that make the water that falls on his landif he catches it in mid air his because its not expressly in the deed and if a company wnats to buy airspace to land planes they have to have so many feet of unencumbered property to place the runway and so by buying the property they obtain the air space. the government cant have it both ways. even if they want to. unless of course the united states is seedin the clouds and the rain falling is a direct product of that particular action. Im just speaking technically that i think the water is his.cause it fell in his airspace. Not that the damming of water ways on his part doesnt actually break the law it does but if his barrel catches it and the barrel is an inch off the ground in his airspace then its technically his cause he owns the airspace and even if its a case of its us airspace he is a us citizen and this is his share of the water he was goin got use anyways so who is he hurting? The taxes collected?water rights i thought dont go into effect until it hits the land and is in the cause way or water table. My next question is where the heck are the young junior lawyers looking for and environmental law thesis?
    They could really be of use here. this could be quite a class project to be argued for free by the local law students. Maybe they could even directly change legislation.

    • D'YAH YASHARAL 7 May, 2016 at 17:45 Reply


      READ IT!!!~

      >Proverbs 25:14…
      Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.<

  2. Tom Cagle 6 May, 2016 at 23:20 Reply

    Thirty days? This is a STATE and not federal law. I will wager it was tried in a state court too. Getcher facts straight.

  3. Jewels 7 May, 2016 at 02:00 Reply

    But yall know the government did the same thing to the Indians. Our government damped up steams to make the Indians give into their bulling over and over. Yet the white man saw nothing wrong with these tactics then. Now that it’s a white man it’s all boohoo. I too believe the government goes over broad with what belongs to whom.

  4. JerseyDevil 7 May, 2016 at 10:46 Reply

    Yeah…collect rainwater to use later on your property…versus PAYING for water from the local water utility to use on your property…

  5. Paul harmon 7 May, 2016 at 15:13 Reply

    Why cant we collect rain water, why is it illegal to collect. Does the government own the rights to rain water now. And if they do weres the documents saying they own the rights to it. N just a thought, i thought this was a free counrty. Guess not

  6. jo 7 May, 2016 at 21:24 Reply

    does that mean that if my property floods because of excess rainwater I can sue the state for damages as their property has damaged mine?

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