The Roll Over and Play Dead Laws

August 14, 2012

We have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Wasn’t it your understanding that rainwater is free?  It certainly has always been my understanding that if rain falls on my personal property, I can do anything I want with it.

Apparently, the state of Oregon disagrees with that concept given that they have just sentenced a man to 30 days in jail and fined him $1,500 for building three reservoirs on his own property.

Unbelievably, they said that it violates a state law that says all water is publicly owned.  Huh??  Rain from the sky is publicly owned?  I guess I should have turned myself in many years ago when I washed my car in my driveway with :::gasp::: rainwater.  This was close to thirty years ago.  I wonder what the statute of limitations is for using water from the sky to wash my car.  If I had thought of it, I probably would have shampooed my hair in the rain, too.

The state of Oregon is saying that this man has collected nearly 13 million gallons of water in his reservoirs, enough to fill 20 olympic-size swimming pools.  So what?  If he wasn’t draining the rivers and lakes and diverting that water to his property, so what if he collected enough water from the sky to fill 20 olympic-size pools?  What, or who, is it hurting?

The sheer stupidity of that 1925 Oregon law making it illegal for a private person to collect rainwater is beyond ridiculous.  In this era of heightened awareness of the need to conserve our natural resources, you would think those legislators would be thrilled that one man chose to build a few reservoirs on his property for his personal use and fire suppression rather than have the rain falling over his property just to water his lawn.

This man wasn’t selling his water, which would have been his right since he didn’t steal it from anyone and it was falling freely from the sky on his own property.  He might have even allowed his neighbors to use it if their houses were burning down.  But, no, now the state wants him to waste his water.  They want him to drain all three of his reservoirs.

There was no mention of the state of Oregon air-lifting the water from his reservoirs for the purpose of putting out fires or transporting it to Third World countries that don’t have clean water.  They just want him to drain the water from his reservoirs.

And the odd thing is that nine years ago the state issued him three permits to collect water in those reservoirs, making it legal for him to collect the rainwater.  Then, they arbitrarily rescinded the permits and now he’s languishing in jail because he’s using water from the sky that the state of Oregon says should be owned by the public, not by an individual.

When I see the stupidity of government officials, I weigh it against the knowledge that every time a natural disaster occurs, there are thousands of people who don’t have clean water for drinking or for sanitation.  After a major earthquake or tsunami we’re aware for only a short period of time that whole communities have unhealthy living conditions.  After a while, other news takes its place but these same people are still struggling to survive months and years after a major disaster knocks out their water supply.

If more people were as enterprising as that man in Oregon and collected the rainwater that falls freely from the sky, they could transport it to communities that were suffering from unsanitary conditions and drought.

The thing that makes the least sense is that the Oregon government is demanding that this man empty all three of his reservoirs and they aren’t allowing him to keep what he has collected.  Theoretically, he could drain his reservoirs onto his property and thus make it into a lakefront property which could increase in value, particularly if he stocked the lake with fish.

Oh, no.  They would then probably fine him for fishing without a license.

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