New Colorado laws affect rainwater, health care |

New Colorado laws affect rainwater, health care

Associated Press Writer
Denver, CO Color

DENVER, Colorado – One new law set to take effect Wednesday will allow Colorado homeowners to collect rainwater.

That’s right, rainwater.

It will be legal for homeowners to use rainwater for fire protection, animals, irrigation and household use. It’s a touchy issue in the state, which does not import water from other states or regions and is forced by law to send it on to other states downstream.

“People are shocked that some developer or water provider owns the water that falls out of the sky,” said Rep. Marsha Looper, a Republican from rural Calhan, southeast of Denver, who sponsored the legislation.

“Every drop of water that hits the ground belongs to someone,” said Kevin Bommer, a lobbyist for the Colorado Municipal League, which opposed past attempts to ease the rules.

Recent dry spells convinced lawmakers this year it was time to try harvesting rain – not that anyone was prosecuted under the old ban.

Water rights are a complicated matter in Colorado, and water districts, farming cooperatives and municipalities each have a claim, with the oldest claims getting priority.

It will be up to the state water engineer to determine if the law hurts water providers.

Another 56 laws go into effect Wednesday. One raises vehicle registration fees to pay for highway and bridge repairs.

Another will impose new fees on hospitals. The fees will be used to get federal matching dollars for a total of $1.2 billion a year. The money will be used to expand the number of people covered by Medicaid and the state’s health insurance program for children. It will also be used to increase payments to hospitals that treat the uninsured.

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