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Rainwater. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2015 v9n1 0603

They came with Bibles, and when we bowed our heads to pray, they took our land, and when we were singing hallelujah! they took our water and polluted our air, and told us we would be jailed if we collected rainwater... In New Jersey, we are allowed to keep our rainwater.

In the first week of June, 2015, the township of Haddonfield gave away the rights to its water to New Jersey American Water. The private company has promised its citizens the cost of water will not increase for the next 3 years. The company sent me a package asking me to look for leaks in the water and sewage system, and packets of dye to add to the toilet cistern. I only use collected shower water to flush the toilets, so I am way ahead of them.

Water is being talked about everywhere in Camden County, in South Jersey, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. On May 27, 2015, I walked in on a symposium on water management in my local branch of Camden County Library. An impressive series of speakers told us how we could limit run-off, polluting our local streams and waterways, and use rainwater from our roofs for rain gardens.

Rain gardens are popular around Haddonfield and parts of Camden County. They are simply an effort to keep rain sliding off roofs from slipping into gutters and into drains. Rain gardens include deep holes where water can pool, and plants that keep soil from sliding away with rain water. We are building one at our Quaker Meeting urban farm in Camden City. Newton Friends Meeting click here. A walk through Haddonfield and from Haddonfield across Sadler's Woods reveals rain gardens in local elementary schools: gutters draining into rain gardens so designated with brightly colored signs. Haddonfield click here.

On May 29, 2015 I drove into Camden City to Sacred Heart Church Hall, to participate in a community discussion of water, which included a showing of "Blue Gold", a documentary made in 2008 which is hopefully accessible on YouTube.

A lot has happened since 2008. Then, gathering rainwater, known as rainwater harvesting, was illegal in some states. Since then, not only has it been legalized, but actively encouraged, all around the United States, including in California and New Jersey. Below, the words of the Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 of the State of California.

PART 2.4. Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 of the State of California

 This part shall be known, and may be cited, as the Rainwater Capture Act of 2012.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) As California has grown and developed, the amount of stormwater flowing off buildings, parking lots, roads, and other impervious surfaces into surface water streams, flood channels, and storm sewers has increased, thereby reducing the volume of water allowed to infiltrate into groundwater aquifers and increasing water and pollution flowing to the ocean and other surface waters. At the same time, recurring droughts and water shortages in California have made local water supply augmentation and water conservation efforts a priority.
(b) Historical patterns of precipitation are predicted to change, with two major implications for water supply. First, an increasing amount of California’s water is predicted to fall not as snow in the mountains, but as rain in other areas of the state. This will likely have a profound and transforming effect on California’s hydrologic cycle and much of that water will no longer be captured by California’s reservoirs, many of which are located to capture snowmelt. Second, runoff resulting from snowmelt is predicted to occur progressively earlier in the year, and reservoirs operated for flood control purposes must release water early in the season to protect against later storms, thereby reducing the amount of early season snowmelt that can be stored.
(c) Rainwater and stormwater, captured and properly managed, can contribute significantly to local water supplies by infiltrating and recharging groundwater aquifers, thereby increasing available supplies of drinking water. In addition, the onsite capture, storage, and use of rainwater for nonpotable uses significantly reduces demand for potable water, contributing to the statutory objective of a 20-percent reduction in urban per capita water use in California by December 31, 2020.
(d) Expanding opportunities for rainwater capture to augment water supply will require efforts at all levels, from individual landowners to state and local agencies and watershed managers.
 Nothing in this part shall be construed to do any of the following:
(a) Alter or impair any existing rights.
(b) Change existing water rights law.
(c) Authorize a landscape contractor to engage in or perform activities that require a license pursuant to the Professional Engineers Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code).
(d) Impair the authority of the California Building Standards Commission to adopt and implement building standards for rainwater capture systems pursuant to existing law.
(e) Affect use of rainwater on agricultural lands.
(f) Impair the authority of a water supplier pursuant to Subchapter 1 of Chapter 5 of Division 1 of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations.
 Solely for the purposes of this part, and unless the context otherwise requires, the following definitions govern the construction of this part:
(a) “Developed or developing lands” means lands that have one or more of the characteristics described in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 56375.3 of the Government Code.
(b) “Rain barrel system” is a type of rainwater capture system that does not use electricity or a water pump and is not connected to or reliant on a potable water system.
(c) “Rainwater” means precipitation on any public or private parcel that has not entered an offsite storm drain system or channel, a flood control channel, or any other stream channel, and has not previously been put to beneficial use.
(d) “Rainwater capture system” means a facility designed to capture, retain, and store rainwater flowing off a building rooftop for subsequent onsite use.
(e) “Stormwater” means temporary surface water runoff and drainage generated by immediately preceding storms. This definition shall be interpreted consistent with the definition of “stormwater” in Section 122.26 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
 Use of rainwater collected from rooftops does not require a water right permit pursuant to Section 1201.