by Christina Sarich
August 9th, 2014
Since when do you need a permit to collect rainwater? An Oregonian man has been sent to prison after local authorities found he had collected more than 13 million gallons of rainwater in 3 man-made ponds on his own property.
Gary Harrington is a 64 year-old man now sitting in jail for collecting a God-given right. He and his brother asked the ‘water master’ for a water certificate in 1973, but since he was just collecting rainwater, they couldn’t issue him one.
Over time, Harrington has built three massive water collection reservoirs – ponds – on his 170 acre property on Crowfoot Road in rural Eagle Point. Just by collecting snow runoff and rainwater, his ponds hold more than 13 million gallons of water that he uses to irrigate crops, and ‘be prepared in case of forest fires.’ I guess the water privatization people are pissed. He has enough water to fill about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
While Harrington likely uses some of his water for indoor use, which isn’t permitted in all states, it is permitted in Oregon. Harrington also gives a nod to self-sustaining sovereignty since he has stocked one of his ponds with largemouth bass, and built docks around the water.
“The fish and the docks are icing on the cake,” Harrington tells the Medford Mail Tribune. “It’s totally committed to fire suppression.”
What allowed authorities a loophole to arrest Harrington is that while water collection is kosher in Oregon, it is supposed to be done off of an impervious surface, like a rooftop. Oregon law dictates that water is not a publicly owned resource, and his set up with 10 and 20-foot dams definitely got their attention.