If, as a South African concerned about the water crisis currently gripping the country, you decide you want to collect and use rainwater, you’re absolutely free to do so. No one owns the rain, and so being able to collect it on your own property makes perfect sense, right? Well, not to the lawmakers of the great US state of Oregon – a lesson learned the hard way by a man who was sent to prison for collecting rainwater.
That’s right, in the USA you can legally own tanks, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers, marry your cousin, and have a sexual relationship with any animal of your choosing. But, buddy, if you want to collect rainwater without the government’s permission, you had better be ready to do some time.
This is what Gary Harrington found out recently, as a judge slapped him with 30 days in prison for having three illegal reservoirs, used for the collection of rainwater and melting snow, on his property.
Oregon Man Sentenced for Illegal Rainwater Reservoirs
In Oregon, the government owns the rain, apparently, and anyone wanting to collect it must have the proper licence. But, anyone wanting to put up collection devices on their own property might feel that they are completely entitled to do so, and might not even think about it being in any way illegal.
However Harrington did know about the law, and tried to abide by it. He applied for permits on three separate occasions, and was finally granted one. Then, for no apparent reason, the government turned around and rescinded the permit, forcing Harrington’s sinister rainwater collection back into the realms of crime.
This caused an uproar in the USA, and quite rightly. It seems absolutely ludicrous that one of the Earth’s natural supplies of clean water should somehow be monitored by the powers that be. However, a law passed in Oregon in 1925 states that all of the state’s water is publicly owned.
Harrington doesn’t feel that rainwater applies to this law, however, since it doesn’t explicitly include it in the law’s description of public water. Harrington maintains that he’s game to play by the rules, but he feels that the government is changing the rules as it goes in order to bully people that aren’t necessarily social menaces.
This sentiment has been echoed by the American public, who feel that it is well within the rights of every American citizen to put their foot down and say, “I won’t stand for that type of treatment.”
Harrington served his sentence in the hopes that he might change things for his fellow Americans, but it still seems harsh when considering that far more violent crimes often go relatively unpunished. So, next time you hear Americans talking about the ‘land of the free’, just remember that you’re not going to go to jail for putting a bucket out next time it rains.
Image credit: http://www.stockhouse.com/blogs/the-war-on-democracy/august-2012/us-government-owns-rain-water-as-nestle-drains-gre