A man who has collected rainwater in ponds on his property for fire protection for 37 years is now suddenly on his way to jail. Why? Because the state of Oregon claims ownership of all water – even the rain that falls on your private property.
Gary Harrington, the Oregon man convicted of collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his rural property surrendered Wednesday morning to begin serving his 30-day, jail sentence in Medford, Ore.
“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington told a small crowd of people gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail.
Several people held signs that showed support for Harrington as he was taken inside the jail.
Harrington was found guilty two weeks ago of breaking a 1925 law for having, what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property. He was convicted of nine misdemeanors, sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1500 for collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his property.
The Oregon Water Resources Department, claims that Harrington has been violating the state’s water use law by diverting water from streams running into the Big Butte River.
But Harrington says he is not diverting the state’s water — merely collecting rainwater and snow melt that falls or flows on his own property.
Harrington has vowed to continue to fight the penalty, stating that the government has become “big bullies” and that “from here on in, I’m going to fight it.”