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March 1, 2016: Drops in the Bucket?

Rain barrels are in the news again in Colorado, the only state in the US where collection of rainwater is illegal. Many react with a question: why is rainwater capture, a strategy that seems aligned with a water conservation ethic, still illegal in a dry state that needs to conserve water? Others answer just as strongly that the longstanding and tightly managed “prior appropriation” system of Western water rights must be protected. What are some of the finer points overlooked in this debate?