For the first time since territorial days, rain will be free for the catching here, as more and more thirsty states part ways with one of the most entrenched codes of the West. Precipitation, every last drop or flake, was assigned ownership from the moment it fell in many Western states, making scofflaws of people who scooped rainfall from their own gutters. In some instances, the rights to that water were assigned a century or more ago. Now two new laws in Colorado will allow many people to collect rainwater legally. The laws are the latest crack in the rainwater edifice, as other states, driven by population growth, drought, or declining groundwater in their aquifers, have already opened the skies or begun actively encouraging people to collect.
By Kirk Johnson, June 29, 2009, NYT

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