Gary Harrington, an Oregon man, will be spending a month in jail, after being convicted on nine misdemeanor charges. His crime? "Illegally" collecting rain water on his own property.
Harrington, who lives in Eagle Point, Oregon, has been fighting for the right to collect rain water since 2002.
Now a decade later, he has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1,500 for the man-made ponds he has built on his 170 acres of land. For filling “three illegal reservoirs” on his property with runoff water, Harrington has been convicted on nine misdemeanor charges in Circuit Court.
According to authorities, Harrington broke the law by collecting natural rain water and snow runoff, that landed on his property. Harrington said he stores the water mainly for fire protection.
According to officials with the Medford Water Commission, the water on Harrington's property, whether it came from the sky or not, is considered a tributary of the nearby Crowfoot Creek. Thus it is subject to a 1925 law, giving Medford Water Commission full ownership and rights to the water.
Due to this, prosecutors were able to argue in court that the three man-made boating and fishing ponds on Harrington's property have violated the law.For what it's worth, in this case (unlike this case) I can at least begin to understand what the original purpose of the law in question was (or may have been). But this isn't 1925 anymore, this guy obviously doesn't have any ill intentions, and this whole thing just doesn't make any sense.
Then again, this is 21st century America, where one class of people can rip everyone off (and even admit to violating federal law) all they want and just pay a small fine, but another class gets thrown in jail for collecting rainwater. Sounds fair. Does anybody care?