Home > Environment, Government, News of the moment, Protest > Oregon man in possession of 13 million gallons of illicit rainwater sentenced to jail.

Oregon man in possession of 13 million gallons of illicit rainwater sentenced to jail.

By Matt Hickman August 14th 2012.

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An Oregon resident with 3 massive man-made ponds on his property is sentenced to 30 days in jail after being found guilty (again) of collecting rainwater without a permit.

I’ve taken a look at some mighty impressive rainwater collection systems in the past, but it appears that Gary Harrington, 64, takes the proverbial cake when it comes to hoarder-esque rainwater collection activities: over the years, the Oregon resident has built three massive reservoirs — in actuality, they’re more like proper man-made ponds — on his 170-acre property on Crowfoot Road in rural Eagle Point that hold roughly 13 million gallons of rainwater and snow runoff. That’s enough agua to fill about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
 
Of course, it boggles the mind as to what a single man needs that much rainwater for. One would assume that Harrington is reusing it both for irrigation purposes and for non-potable indoor use as well, which, unlike in many states, is permitted in Oregon. But 13 million gallons? Apparently Harrington, who has stocked at least one of the  reservoirs with largemouth bass and built docks around it, believes that his watery stash is a much-needed necessity when wildfires pop up in the area. “The fish and the docks are icing on the cake,” Harrington tells the Medford Mail Tribune. “It’s totally committed to fire suppression.”
 
The bigger story here is that rainwater collection is indeed kosher in Oregon, provided that you’re capturing it from an artificial, impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels. But an extensive reservoir set-up complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams is verboten without the proper, state-issued water-right permits — after all, Oregon law dictates that water is a publicly owned resource — and Harrington did not possess said permits.
 
And so, after a protracted battle with Oregon’s Water Resources Department, Harrington was convicted of nine misdemeanors and sentenced to 30 days in jail, slapped with a $1,500 fine, and ordered to breach his dams and drain his ponds. After the sentencing in late July, Harrington surrendered himself to authorities late last week and began his stint at the Jackson County Jail.
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