Oregon man serving prison sentence for collecting rainwater on his own property

waterNatural News – by Ethan A. Huff

An Oregon landowner has been subjected to a 30-day prison sentence for what he says was a simple act of collecting rainwater on his own property. CNS News reports that Gary Harrington was convicted of nine misdemeanors and sentenced to 30 days in prison, as well as slapped with a $1,500 fine, for diverting snow runoff and rainwater into three reservoirs on his property, a move that local officials say violates an antiquated law governing personal water use.

Known as the “Rain Main,” Harrington reportedly built the reservoirs, which hold some 13 million gallons of water, for his own personal use. One of the reservoirs he stocked with largemouth bass for leisure purposes, and when wildfires emerge in the area, he says the water from this and the other two reservoirs can be used for mitigatory purposes. In Harrington’s mind, the operation is perfectly legal and a legitimate use of his own property.

But the state of Oregon disagrees, claiming that Harrington is actually diverting water intended for the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries, which are governed by the nearby city of Medford, onto his own property. Some have even accused Harrington of hoarding natural resources that do not belong to him, insisting that he should instead allow water that runs onto his property to flow into the city’s water coffers for redistribution.

“They issued me my permits,” stated Harrington to CNS News about the legality of his water collection efforts. “I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said, ‘No, you can’t have them.’ So I’ve been fighting it ever since.”

Water controllers cite outdated 1920s law in pursuit of Harrington

State water managers, however, have cited a 1925 law that provisions exclusive ownership of all “core sources of water” by the city of Medford, not private landowners. They say Harrington’s three water reservoirs are included under this provision, and that water flowing through his property belongs to the state.

But Harrington insists that his water collection efforts are legal, and that water stored on his property serves a primary purpose of dealing with frequent wildfires. Harrington also uses the water in his dwelling for non-potable purposes, similar to rain collection efforts that involve diverting water from roofs and other non-porous surfaces into barrels or storage tanks.

“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington announced before a small crowd gathered outside the Jackson County jail, prior to beginning his sentence.

Harrington had previously been fighting the state after being issued a three-year bench probation back in 2007. This probation mandated that Harrington close up his reservoirs and stop collecting water, which he shortly thereafter violated after reinstating the reservoirs. This, says the state, is the impetus behind Harrington’s booking, and the reason why he was pursued so aggressively in this matter.

“Mr. Harrington has operated these three reservoirs in flagrant violation of Oregon law for more than a decade,” stated Oregon Water Resources Department Deputy Director Tom Paul to the Medford Mail Tribune, as quoted by Mother Nature Network (MNN). “What we’re after is compliance with Oregon water law, regardless of what the public thinks of Mr. Harrington.”

According to CNS News, Harrington plans to fight his sentence tooth and nail, and has vowed not to “lay over and die.” Doing so, he says, will allow the government bullies to become even bigger bullies, further threatening individual liberty in the state of Oregon.

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6 thoughts on “Oregon man serving prison sentence for collecting rainwater on his own property

  1. Its been scientifically established that collecting runoff, even in the amounts this gentleman did, does not significantly affect the amount of water collected in reservoirs or rivers since the vast amount of water that falls either evaporates or is absorbed by the earth. Tjhe authorities are just being dicks because he defied them.

  2. Oregon and Washington are just as COMMUNISTIC as the California government. PERIOD. Lived there and know the crazies that run all the governments there.

    RUSSIA as more freedom. That’s a fact, and that really PISSES me off!!!!!!

  3. he should have shot them!

    i dont know where each person’s personal red-line is, but i’ll be damned if i’ll ever let some comunist scum put me in prison for collecting rain.
    (and i do have a rain barrel in the garden)

    if the state claims ownership of rain, people should start billing the state for flooding and water damage!!!

    1. “if the state claims ownership of rain, people should start billing the state for flooding and water damage!!!

      That’s the most intelligent solution I’ve heard yet.

  4. I’m in the process of putting three 275 gal water collection drums on my new place for watering. I will soon be living there(about a year) and in the county my property is in nobody cares what you do, there isn’t even building codes. This is why I bought this piece of land.

  5. guy molests/rapes an 8 and 15 yr old and walks. now he’s possibly raped and murdered his own 6 yr old child. even if he didn’t kill her, he’s guilty for the other thus making what happened to her as if he did. but by god this guy collecting rainwater is gonna pay. I feel like i’m in an episode of the twilight zone that hasn’t been made yet.

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