Capture pure, free rainwater

Here are some stylish ways to store precious rainfall to keep your garden lush

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  • Rainwater garden swale

    Water runs the length of a hidden 4-inch-wide flexible plastic pipe under a permeable path and into a planted infiltration basin

    Click to Enlarge

Photo: Camille Nordgren

Who owns the rain?

All Western states except Colorado and Utah give you the freedom to catch and use rainfall; some jurisdictions even require it. Here’s how different states see it.

Arizona The state offers an individual income-tax credit to cover 25 percent (up to $1,000) of the cost of rainwater-capture systems.

Colorado Your roof is considered a tributary to a stream somewhere, so unless you have water rights in that drainage, you can’t legally harvest rainwater. However, state legislators this year will consider a bill to permit the collection of water for irrigation.

New Mexico Santa Fe County requires cisterns for commercial buildings and for all new houses larger than 2,500 square feet; smaller dwellings must have rain barrels, berms, or swales to make use of rainfall.

Utah Rainwater is state property; homeowners can’t legally keep it. State Senator Scott Jenkins plans to introduce legislation this month that would allow homeowners to harvest rainwater.

Washington Existing law is ambiguous, so the state’s Department of Ecology doesn’t enforce laws that might regulate rainfall harvest

Photo gallery: 3 great rainwater savers

Jim McCausland


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