Thursday, April 23, 2009
Who Owns the Rain?
Ohmygoddess - it's come to this. How well I remember the big hit by Credence Clearwater Revivial "Who'll Stop the Rain?" Long as I remember the rain been comin down. Clouds of mystry pourin confusion on the ground. Good men through the ages, tryin to find the sun; And I wonder, still I wonder, wholl stop the rain. I went down virginia, seekin shelter from the storm. Caught up in the fable, I watched the tower grow. Five year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains. And I wonder, still I wonder wholl stop the rain. Heard the singers playin, how we cheered for more. The crowd had rushed together, tryin to keep warm. Still the rain kept pourin, fallin on my ears. And I wonder, still I wonder wholl stop the rain. It's an allegory about the political times we were living in back when this song was a megahit. But if taken literally, it represents a situation where unrelenting rain and cold are threatening life on the planet as we know it. These days, lots of people are praying that those big rains will come - no political commentary intended. They want - they NEED - BIG RAIN - right over their county, region, state, country... Who Owns the Rain? Hint: It's Not Always Homeowners Across the country, resourceful homeowners have embraced rainwater capture as a way of conserving community water supplies while maintaining healthy gardens. Unfortunately, rain barrels are sometimes at odds with the law. Facing certain water scarcity, cities and states have begun to wrestle with the conundrum of water rights versus conservation. When it all shakes out, will you own the rain that falls on your own property? By Andrew Moseman Published on: April 22, 2009 ************************************************************************ So - it rains on your quarter acre in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. You have rain barrels hooked up to two of your downspouts to collect rainwater that can be used during dry-spells (which we have been experiencing more often since about 1980) and another downspout is connected to a series of dry-wells feeding a rain garden in your backyard. The fourth downspout still feeds into the storm sewer system. Then, Milwaukee County passes a law saying that everything that was previously done legally under your municipal and the county building code is now illegal, and the County owns each and every raindrop that falls upon your roof, your driveway, and your soft surfaces. Rain barrels are outlawed; dry-wells are outlawed; furthermore, if your connection to your local storm sewer system does not register a certain flow back into the system each month, you are billed for that lack of water that is not going back into Lake Michigan - even if you never used a drop. That charge is on top of what you have always been charged separately for treatment of the sewerage/waste water from your house. In my municipality, sewerage/waste water flows into a separate, dedicated sewer line, but once it joins the City of Milwaukee sewer lines it gets freely mixed into storm water, and therefore ALL has to be treated as contaminated waste water at the two City of Milwaukee-owned sewerage treatment plants. Except, it's not the City of Milwaukee who bills you, because the sewerage treatment plants are run by private enterprise. So, they are free to bill you whatever they want, and the City gets a fixed amount off the contract. As a homeowner, you are screwed, one way or another. As a renter, this just means you pay more and more and more as your landlord gets squeezed every year with higher and higher water bills and sewer bills. Some of this is happening right now in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Think it can't happen where you live? Think again. I live within seven miles of Lake Michigan. Yeah, that's right. The lake that is part of the five great lakes that the water-hungry west is looking for to solve all of their water problems. What do you think is going to happen?