Is it legal in New Mexico to catch the rain that falls on my roof and put it in a barrel for later use? Kinda. Sorta. Maybe?
I love this question, which I’ve written about in the newspaper (sub/ad req) in the past, and which came up last week when I was talking to the local chapter of the AIA.
It’s crazy to think that it wouldn’t be. I mean, it’s water on my property, right? The dilemma is that if the water would have run off my property and ended up in a a river had I not stopped it, it would be someone else’s water under the doctrine of prior appropriation. They could sue me. Crazy-sounding, I know, but it’s the law.
So for benefit of those who are curious, below is the actual written policy, as promulgated by the New Mexico Office of State Engineer. How might I determine if the barrel out by the drain spout is “reduc[ing] the amount of runoff that would have occurred from the site in its natural, pre-development state”? I dunno. Sue me?
Ose Rainwater Policy