Couple Forced to Destroy 40yo Pond on Their Own Property Because Govt Owns the Rainwater


Butte Falls, OR — An Oregon couple has been told they must destroy a 2-acre pond on their land — the property’s most attractive feature — because the government said so.

Although Jon and Sabrina Carey purchased the 10-acre property near Butte Falls two and a half years ago, the pond has been in place for 40 years — but that fact doesn’t matter to the Jackson County Watermaster’s Office.

“I basically bought a lemon,” said Jon, who became teary-eyed at the edge of the partially ice-covered body of water being targeted by government, in an interview with the Mail Tribune. “That’s how they explained it to me.”

But the couple desperately wants to keep the stunning longstanding feature in tact, so, as the Mail Tribune reports, the Careys have “pleaded with the Medford Water Commission to adopt the pond and treat it as a municipal water source, something Jackson County Watermaster Larry Menteer has opposed because of the precedent it would set.

“The Water Commission has rights to the watershed around the Careys’ property, where dozens, if not hundreds, of ponds are located, as well as Medford’s primary source of water, Big Butte Springs.”

And the Careys aren’t the only people in the watershed who’ve had difficulties with, well, ‘the government’s’ water.

Eagle Point resident Gary Harrington spent 90 days in jail for illegally harboring some 13 million gallons of illicit rainwater — that’s enough rain to fill around 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Harrington masterfully crafted several ponds on his property — even building docks for one, and stocking it with largemouth bass — but his insistence the water would assist in fire control and prevention didn’t satisfy the government, since a “1925 state law dictates that the water belongs to the Medford Water Commission.”

As Mother Nature Network’s Matt Hickman reported in 2012,

“The bigger story here is that rainwater collection is indeed kosher in Oregon, provided that you’re capturing it from an artificial, impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels. But an extensive reservoir set-up complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams is verboten without the proper, state-issued water-right permits — after all, Oregon law dictates that water is a publicly owned resource — and Harrington did not possess said permits.”

Harrington and the Oregon Water Resources Department waged an extended battle over the ponds, and at one point, it was ruled he would be allowed to keep everything in place — but that decision was backtracked in less than one year.

Ultimately, “Rain Man,” as he came to be called, found himself charged with nine misdemeanors, spent three months behind bars, and had to shell out $1,500 in fines — and was ordered to destroy the dams and drain all the ponds.

Harrington’s case might have been infinitely more complex than the Careys’ — considering the large volume of water and infrastructure he’d put in place — but they share the same theme of overbearing government and arguably wholly unnecessary law versus the right of people to do as they please with their property.

“When you’re honest, they take everything away from you,” said Sabrina Carey, who inspected country records — which plainly showed the pond — before they purchased the property.

Going by the book might have been the ‘fatal’ error for the couple, however, since the county didn’t take issue with the pond until Jon sought to grow legal medical cannabis on the land and had to prove there was a viable source of water for the grow operation.

According to the Watermaster’s Office, the previous owners had not received a permit for the pond, so the Careys were now in violation of Oregon regulations — and they would have to shoulder the cost of draining the water.

In an effort to prove the pond is legitimate and persuade county government to allow it to remain on the property, the couple stopped using it — even though the well on their land had run dry — and began shipping in the water for daily living and gardening from nearly Butte Falls.

They’ve also had no choice but to hire attorney Sarah Liljefelt, who filed a request with Jackson County to provide a permit for them to store water, stating, “The reservoir on Ms. Carey’s property, though small, is one of the largest in the area.”

As the Mail Tribune notes, “Liljefelt said the pond is an important source of water for beavers, otters, elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, bobcat, bald eagle osprey, great blue heron, snowy egret, Canada geese and the western pond turtle.”

By all appearances, the large pool of water does more good for the environment than if it weren’t there at all — during their fight with the State, the Careys even suggested it be used for fire control and prevention, like Harrington did, as the pond is easily accessible by fire crews.

But the county has displayed only nonsensical obstinance on the issue.

“This pond seems to be doing way more public good than not being here. Why, now, is it so important to be removed?” Jon lamented.

Indeed, the 40-year-old man doesn’t even profit from the medical cannabis grown on the land he and his wife own, as he literally gives the crop — free of charge — to friends.

“I don’t make anything out of this,” he said.

Members of the Water Commission disagree on whether this is an issue worth fighting over at all, but as the Mail Tribune reports,

“Water Commission staff found several problems with the Careys’ request, including setting a precedent that could prompt similar requests and weaken state statutes while not meeting the definition of ‘municipal water source.’ The staff found it would be very difficult to access the water stored in the pond for municipal reasons, and further monitoring and following up on compliance issues would be difficult and costly for the commission.”

However, the commission also failed to state why this should be a matter for the government in the first place — why punitive bureaucracy needs to meddle with a pond on private property, serving as a valuable ecosystem, that poses no threat to anyone or anything, and isn’t even an eyesore, must be destroyed.

Besides a trailer home and dilapidated house, the pond is the only thing of value on their acreage, and, obviously, as Sabrina said, “We didn’t buy it for the double-wide.”

She told the Mail Tribune the pond should have been registered with the Oregon Water Resources Department nine years ago, but the owners at that time did not reside on the property and didn’t do so.

They have even offered to reduce the pond’s size, allow officials to inspect it when necessary, and have provided a draft easement to the commission in hopes of allowing the prized water feature to remain intact — thus far to no avail.

“We’re just trying to do it by the rules,” Sabrina explained. “I’m trying to cooperate.”

In 2012, Gary Harrington had already been through years of conflict with government officials over illicit water — and provided CNSNews with stronger sentiment on the topic:

“When something is wrong, you just, as an American citizen, you have to put your foot down and say, ‘This is wrong; you just can’t take away anymore of my rights and from here on in, I’m going to fight it.”

That government feels entitled to not only something located on private property, but that people should not be allowed to collect rain, is everything wrong with excessive government — and the overregulation of daily life.

  • FiuToYou

    It just gets worse and worse every day! What’s it going to take to have a free life on your own property? Put up with one thing, then here comes another. How can the government OWN the rain? Too much govt control, a govt run by idiots.

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    • Ed

      Better word: MORON’s

    • Nishi

      If they own the rainwater, maybe you could sue them for any damage it does to your property. Or have a judge order them to put in place a drainage system on the property. There have to be negative unintended consequences for bs like this.

      • rockbird

        I suppose if this fellow can prove that the rain falling on his property originated as evaporation from his property, then I might grant it’s his rainwater. However, the state should charge him storage fees for the time his water was taking up space in the sky.

    • rockbird

      It will take fewer people. The more people you crowd into a country, the fewer freedoms you will have. Excepting China and India, the USA is the most populous country in the world, Where do you find more stoplights, more zoning laws, more taxes, more rules and regulations of all kinds: out in sparsely populated rural areas or in densely populated big cities? Fortunately, absent legal and illegal immigration, growth from new births would be about at replacement level, so all we have to do do save the little freedom we have left, is to severely reduce legal and illegal immigration. Just sayin’.

    • rockbird

      The country is overpopulated. That’s why we need laws like this. If there were just me and you living in North America, you think we’d need big government?

      But since that’s not the case, if this fellow doesn’t like the laws in his state, he’s free to move to any other state he chooses. He’s no different from the fellow who moves next door to a garbage dump, then complains about the smell and wants the dump to move itself someplace else.

      • Leslie Frostig Miller

        How do you compare buying property with a 40 year old pond already on it and being told said pond is illegal after the purchase to buying next to a garbage dump and complaining. You are too stupid to breath and should go play in traffic.

  • theGOONIES

    Not sure why people put up with this crap. It is the people’s Republic or Oregon though

    • permalink

      It is the same thing in Colorado… The state owns all waters.

      • Gerry Ingram

        Colorado, Colorado! If you love Colorado live there and mind your own business. This is Oregon; we are not Colorado. You are a freakin broken record. Do you paint your house the same color as your neighbor because you can’t think for yourself? Lemming anyone?

        • permalink

          “This is Oregon; we are not Colorado”

          Yet you seem to live under the same laws… And it appears you do not wish to abide by the laws. Are you a law-breaker or a citizen? You should visit other parts of the US.

          “Do you paint your house the same color as your neighbor because you can’t think for yourself?”

          My house is the same color that my Great-grandfather painted it.

          • Gerry Ingram

            What are you twelve? Your not very bright; that is for sure. Laws can be and are changed. Government is owned by the people, not the other way around. Angry, no, just tired of idiots that need government to dictate every aspect of your life.

          • permalink

            “What are you twelve?”


            I am bright enough to know that until the law changes, one need obey them, or risk the wrath of the government. Living in the socialist Peoples Republic of Oregon, I can see the state has rules like this.

            I won’t suggest moving, because I found out what happened when the Californians moved into Colorado. The state has been a shit-hole ever since, because Californians love government. You left coast states deserve what you have.

          • Gerry Ingram

            Just because someone doesn’t agree with a law doesn’t mean they are breaking them. Cut it with the assumptions.

    • mf48

      I also don’t understand why people put up with this carp. 😉

  • Sean Mcintier

    From Melbourne Australia.

    I send an e-mail to the watermaster expressing my displeasure. Everyone who supports this family should stand up for them and do the same! A few messages may not change anything, but perhaps dozens or hundreds will?

  • Jacques J. Gauthier

    There would have been one way around this…. Get the feds to fight with the local authority under the Environment Act….

    • bohicasis

      You really think the Feds care about the Environmental Act? Nope

  • 101steagle

    Next they will own the air you breathe,they think they own your soul,your children,they have forgot we own the government,and they are our servants.

  • Gerry Ingram

    This shit has to stop. We all need to be getting on our officials asses over this nonsense.

    • Craig Murray

      you did read how this law goes back to 1925, not some new thing. That’s because your great grandparents were smart enough to know that preventing the water from entering the watershed harms the creatures that need it to live and the people whose wells get filled from it.

      • Nightshadow Wolfpaw

        youre a special kind of stupid arent you craig

        • Craig Murray

          Wow what a well thought out and intelligent response. I am just in awe of such awesome intellectual powers such as yours. Short, to the point, and how you so perfectly picked apart each point with such erudite reasoning. Genius, you are absolute genius. And I am sure you are as dark and mysterious and brave like your pretend name Nightshadow Wolfpaw suggests. I bet you are incredibly cool and admired amongst your peers. Well done my cool and brilliant friend, Your brilliance certainly tore my argument to shreds.

          • Bob Pineo

            I do notice that you only reply to the name caller. Not the person with a more reasonable response.

          • waraji

            Yes, Craig, why didn’t you respond to Gerry’s reasoned reply ? (I agree with Bob, you gave an unnecessary, long-winded reply to a name-caller)

      • ozlanthos

        So let me get this straight. This land has been in violation for the last 40 years? Kind of convenient don’t you think? That the state only gets around to flexing their authority over someone’s use of their land when it suits their interests? How is that any different from complete and utter tyranny? That I (as a land owner) should live in fear of the possibility that my government might decide to throw me in jail for what every authorizing agency has told me is a legal use of my own land….Tell me again about all those “freedoms” our soldiers are defending abroad….


        • Craig Murray

          So I guess you are also opposed to building permits for safe construction and fire permits so you don’t burn your neighbours house down? And what about the absolute tyranny of drivers licenses? Who are these nazi’s who want to tell you if you can drive or not? You are right, absolute tyranny, well, at least for someone who has never been to a country that is a dictatorship.
          A decade ago the pond could have been registered but the owners never did. I don’t know about this municipality but in almost all cases you do have a method for appeal and approval.
          What if you found out a company had been dumping toxic waste for 40 years. You still going to argue that “well it’s been 40 years so now it’s ok”
          I was an Army Officer for 22 years. The military is not fighting for some whiner to bitch about having to follow the law.

          • Atom

            So they need to register with the government to have a pond? Do you not see the problem in that? But could you elaborate more on how water entering this watershed naturally as it has for the past 40 years is now all of a sudden so harmful it needs to be drained and the owners threatened with jail and fines? How do you define who controls rainwater?

            But I am curious how it is harming the environment because the only people who mentioned the environment said it was helping it.

          • permalink

            Water is controlled in many of the western states, Colorado does for sure, as I am a land owner and it affects me. Maybe you need to travel more to see what the rest of the country is all about.

          • Gerry Ingram

            Don’t really care what the rest of the country does. That is for their constituents to decide. This is Oregon and I am a constituent and this is how I feel.
            Your full of shit about the fire departments not being able to use ponds. They have systems just for that. Its not necessary for bucket drops anyway.

          • permalink

            You seem angry for some reason. Is it because I posted something that questioned your life’s experience?

          • Gerry Ingram

            I just think people should mind their onw fucking business. Sick of hearing about Colorado. I don’t care what you do in Colorado. Colorado does not dictate to Oregon.

          • ozlanthos

            Do you know what the difference between what you are talking about, and what I am talking about is? The land owner wasn’t harming anyone. His ponds were not harming anyone, nor creating a danger, hazard or so much as an EYE-SORE for anyone else. This is OREGON. It is not an fing desert! It rains here ALL THE TIME. If he were blocking a FINITE source of water, I would be right there with you saying “this guy is stealing water from the rest of Oregon!”. If he were blocking a run of salmon from getting to where they spawn, I would be throwing a fit, and picketting outside the entry of his driveway. If he were dumping toxic waste, and it was poisoning the water, or preventing the water from going to those down-stream from him, I would be right there doing the same…But NONE of that is the case here! A guy had some ponds on his property, and someone else wanted to steal the water from him, so they used the state to do it!

            If anything, he was doing the state a service by retaining water for fire control, and creating wildlife habitat. Oh and another thing….HE HAD PERMITS. The state arbitrarily decided not to renew them.


          • permalink

            “doing the state a service by retaining water for fire control”

            The Fire Dept will never pump water from that pond. Why? Because it contains sediment and would foul/ plug the water pump.

          • Chris Smashe

            This is wrong. Ponds are used all the time in rural areas with no hydrants for fire control.

          • Ned Harrison

            Actually, that’s what eductors are for. You pump IN 10 gallon a minute, and the 25 gallons a minute you get out can be full of debris. The Navy’s been doing it for about a hundred years….

          • heraymo

            had a fire some years ago and the fire department used our lake to put it out.

          • ozlanthos

            And another thing. Seeing as you don’t live here, you might not know this, but the state has decided to try to get rid of all of the fish that it doesn’t have to ANNUALLY REPLANT! I know you probably don’t fish, so you might not know this, but freshwater fish occur naturally. They don’t need a truck to come along and dump thousands of fish every year in order to reproduce.

            This guy had bass in at least one of the ponds. Now, nevermind that the state planted bass here. Nevermind that unlike most invasive species (the state has decided to re-classify Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Perch, and Bluegill as “invasive warm-water species”…despite the fact that ODFW has spent the last 50+ putting those species in all of the lakes up here), bass are actually complimentary to the natural biosphere in the lakes up here. Bass reproduce naturally, and the state wants to get rid of all of the fish it can’t extort you into maintaining. I know.. Sounds like a stretch right? But you have to pay the guy who dumps the trout, and before that the guy who raises the trout, and before the the guy who owns the property where the hatchery is built, and all of it needs maintenance, and accounting, and management…bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, catfish, and native trout don’t need any of that. So we have to get rid of all of those, because as long as they exist, people will be able to fish for them instead of state-raised pellet-fed trout.

            Ultimately the goal is to culturally cleanse fishing out of our minds, and bottle the lakes and rivers to be sold back to us at $4.00/12 ounces.

            The point of this explanation is to point out that this was most likely just to get rid of the bass pond, and had absolutely no other purpose….and for exactly the reasons I have pointed out.


          • Ned Harrison

            Please don’t speak for the military if you are NOT an official spokesperson for DoD.

            A Veteran.

          • manofredearth

            The military will say that for itself should they choose to do so, Mr. Harrison.

          • planet gold fish brain

            22 years on your knees. Wipe your chin Zero.

          • waraji

            Craig, How is toxic waste an analogy to a non-toxic, beneficial-to-nature pond? Poor, poor analogy.

          • waraji

            You didn’t serve as an Army officer for 22 years in order to have the right to “bitch” at people about a pond.

      • Gerry Ingram

        Craig, once the pond is filled, it has no effect on the watershed. That is done over a very long period of time, yes, but the effect is minimal. Not everyone is doing this. There is plenty of water. We dump billions of gallons of water into the ocean every day. These ponds provide additional habitation for the very same little creatures you speak of. I think you have not thought this through completely. Its just like all the dam closings in Oregon. Closing the dams reduces shoreline habitat. It completely eliminates slow water moving areas which are necessary for certain species.

      • Dave

        Once the pond filled up 40 years ago, it wouldn’t’ change the net flow of water to the watershed. Once filled, overflow would travel downstream. Do you need help getting dressed in the morning?

  • Craig Murray

    So the actual truth is not his pond is illegal and government is evil, it is that he has built dams to stop the natural flow of water and that these laws go back almost a century. I guess this article relies on people being too stupid or too lazy to read.
    The law goes back to 1925 ya morons

    • IceTrey

      And that makes it moral how?

      • Craig Murray

        Ok, try to think this through. When it rains the natural process is for the water to flow downhill and enter the aquifers everyone uses. If you create dams and storage ponds, in the one case, a 14 million gallon one, then that is 14 million gallons that no one else gets to benefit from. So grazing animals and wildlife in streams as well as people on well water etc all suffer so this one guy can have it his way. I bet if you were downstream and relied on the water you might think a little more maturely. Had you actually read the article instead of leaping up in indignation you would have red how they could have done this if they had applied for permits and made it conform to a way that does not actually damage the watershed. So following a law intended for the benefit of everyone is how it is moral

        • Michael Hatfield

          AAnd it hasn’t been a problem for 40 years so why are they messing with these property owners now? It has nothing to do with water rights they just didn’t bribe the right people.This is complete bs.

          • permalink

            “AAnd it hasn’t been a problem for 40 years so why are they messing with these property owners now?”

            Because whenever property changes hands the state/ county sends out folks to inspect it. I have lived in my house for 17 years. I rented it for the first 14 yrs and last year I bought it. Lo and behold a county inspector showed up at my door a couple of weeks ago — after I had put on a new roof.

        • Jamie Hall

          They did not build the pond in question. It was there more than 35 years before they even bought the property. Not does this pond contain 13 million gallons of water, or have any dams in place. You are confusing two different cases about ponds on two different properties, the latter of which was referenced for the sake of comparison and to demonstrate the precedence of the government’s handling of such cases.

        • piggypiggy

          You don’t think that holding water in one spot rather than let it run off into the stream/river/ocean doesn’t assist in recharging aquifers?
          You’re a special kind of stupid.

        • IceTrey

          So if you have a piece of paper from the state impounding that water isn’t going to cause any problems but if you don’t everyone’s well is going to dry up? That’s one powerful piece of paper.

    • Jamie Hall

      You are confusing two different cases, those being the primary focus of this article and a reference made to an earlier, similar, but much more extensive case.

      Either way, your argument is as invalid as the government’s claim that it owns all the water. Well here’s a little reality check for both of you. Water that evaporates into the atmosphere is transported all around the globe by air currents. And if the government of the state of Oregon can challenge a landowner’s right to any rain that falls on private property because that water belongs to the state government, then the governments from competeing states and even other countries could also use this same argument to start suing each other over owners rights, claiming that the water that rained down on one state actually evaporated from a body of water in another, and therefore is the property of the state in which it originated.

      • permalink

        And you are confused if you think a state cannot “own” all the water rights. Go to Colorado and that state will tell you the same thing.

        • Jamie Hall

          I’m not confused one little bit. And neither is anybody else who is debunking the myth that the government has a right to make such a claim, which obviously casts light on the fact that you would rather be part of the problem than part of the solution. It’s been nice talking with you.

          • permalink

            Well you are confused if you think the state does not own the water. It’s right there in black and white. Need me to read it to you?

          • Ed

            The state does not own the water. It’s right here (see the previous sentence) in black and white.

        • Gerry Ingram

          Get over yourself. Who gives a fuck what Colorado does. This is Oregon and we mean to do things differently. Go back to Colorado already.

          • permalink

            Oooh, you must have ran out of three syllable words huh?

          • Gerry Ingram

            The only 3 syllable word you know is Colorado. What is your point? I think you enjoy being told what to do. It must be diff-a-cult for you to think on your own.

          • permalink

            You are a bit angry for some reason. Is this because I posted something that questioned your life’s experience? Maybe you should find a **safe space**…

        • c_chandler

          water is owned and created by God…how dare the states declare they own anything.

    • Gerry Ingram

      When one runs out of intellect to debate with, they start calling people names. Maybe you should think things through. There are a lot of natural ponds and natural damns in Oregon. Perhaps you think we should go drain and destroy all of them? No ponds or lakes allowed; just fast running water everywhere.

  • Robert Bowdish

    Find out where these government folks live and start complaining about their property. Post their addresses and I’ll call and complain about the lawn being too tall. Make their lives miserable and maybe they will start to understand what they are doing. Then vote them out of office.

    • kevvy

      brilliant idea……like seriously thats the best response ive heard

    • WriterDudeLA

      Vote them out of office may not be so easy, it’s a “commission,” which generally means that many of the members are appointed. Better would be to change state law, but as long as the Democrats control the state legislature, that will never happen.

  • Sid Samsara

    The problem doesn’t seem to be harvesting Oregon’s rain water, it seems to be the non-corporate harvesting of rain water. The state seems to have no problem at all with Eola Bottling, makers of upscale “Oregon Rain” bottled water not only collecting water but exporting it out of state as well. As a matter of fact their marketing motto is “Yes it really is rain harvested from Oregon skies!”

    • Fiona Myrglwitz

      Hypocrisy. Pay a bribe to the right guy and you’d be good to go. Maybe the guy who said they bought a lemon can be held responsible that it was not a problem till after it was purchased!

    • Rudy Padilla

      Well said

  • doucyet

    Ponds actually help in the sense that they hold water and recharge the aquifers below. After the pond fills then water stream continues on it’s way down as normal, no harm no foul. Constructed properly when filling a new pond 75% would flow downstream and 25% would be used to fill the new pond. Free flowing water simply joins a larger stream and then a river and ends up in the ocean, what a waste.

  • Andy White

    is this not the perfect example of ”to much government” that people are so sick of….????

    • Aaron68

      It’s Oregon. Most voters live in the cities and don’t care about the rest of the state. That’s why there was a small grassroots effort a while back that wanted to join Southern Oregon and Northern California to create a new state.

      • Bob Btme

        You mean “Ganjastan”?

        • Aaron68

          I believe they intended to call it “Jefferson”.

        • David Nichols

          Good one, Bob…doesn’t look like Aaron68 got it….

          • Bob Btme

            No, he’s talking about the same place, it was to be called Ganjastan or Jefferson or something. Once the 70-foot sea level rise that coming is a little higher and the US dollar collapses I’m sure the US will fracture into many different territories.

  • OzzWorx

    If it is 40 years old, it is an established wetland… if the government wants to destroy it, they are in violation of federal environmental laws!

    • Deborah Blish

      Great point!

    • Mitchell Brown

      The law governing this goes back to 1925.

      • OzzWorx

        Superseded by the Clean Water Act!

  • Joe

    When you wright these articles please denote what government, just saying government is way to broad. In this instance its the local government who probable owns and makes money offthe water distribution in the area. The State and Feds have noting to do with it.

    • piggypiggy

      You “Right” a wrong, the “Wright” brothers flew an airplane, and you “Write” an article.

      • You missed a few — “to”, “its”, “probable”, and “noting”. 🙂

        • Tom

          It would be better if the English teachers would correct the local govt. Joe is trying to help.

      • bohicasis

        Could have been using Dragon Speak. Happens frequently

  • ssn708

    So, tell the government to get their water off your property in the winter.

  • Michael Stier

    Who sold the rain water to the government?

    • Ed

      Show us the receipt!

  • It’s much more complicated and nuanced than FTP is making it out to be:

  • Frank Doe

    The ONLY reason for this is the crop they want to grow, no water, no permit for the pot.

    • piggypiggy

      They did say they bought the property because of the pond, sounds like it was part of the plan to begin with. Is that a problem?

  • Jim Freire

    The key here is 10 and 20 foot dams which are the actual issue. The amount of water held by structurally un-engineered dams pose a genuine threat o residents and land below them The guy who did 90 days had only stacked earth dams holding large amounts of water above other peoples land. Failure would have impacted the homes and land below him. That said were these people to appeal and have their dams inspected and passed as structurally sound they could likely be grandfathered. as is A 40 yr old un engineered private dam is a huge liability for not just the owner but all lands below the ponds. There are some solid reasons for action not saying jail was what I personally would have done to the more famous pond owner. But there is MUCH to be said for desiring safe “ponds”. I t really does rain in Oregon and over time earthen dams begin to fail. Fern Ridge reservoir near Eugene is an engineered and Army Corps built earth dam and it needs regular work to keep it safe from flooding homes and land for miles.Although it does not make as catchy of a click this is the real reason these folks are getting flak. The dams on their land are a danger to people below them and the rain water law was the law used to address the more serious of these. In general there are “ponds” all over private land that catch rainwater which will never be heard from because they are no issue to any other property. I have one on our land

  • miataforthesoul

    The pond owner needs to sue the government for allowing the rain to fall on their land. Reciprocal idiocy.

  • Scorpionjs

    Is the pond a natural occurrence? If so, then only God has providence. In many parts of the country it is illegal to modify drainage without permits. If you do anything that impacts drainage to your neighbor’s property, it is illegal.

  • kevvy

    land of the free eh?

  • Laz

    All the folks need to tell the Gov to go take a runnng jump or charge the Gov per litre for stealing their land via erosion run off.Bloody pathetic lawyers & corrupt corperate officials.

  • lodi45

    So in Oregon, it is legal to catch rainwater off of surfaces which render the water undrinkable, but not otherwise???? Who the heck figured out that law?? Most definitely must have been an ignorant lawyer!!

  • The article never mentions JR and SR water rights…………… This is a BS article………… meant to stir up anger in those that are not aware of these rights that go with the land and have done so for many generations.. !!

    • permalink


  • This sounds snarky, but it truly isn’t:

    How does the government envisioning this kind of thing playing out? What’s the end game?

    At some point, someone’s going to get shot, and then it’s all going to go to hell.

    This business will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.

  • Francis

    I fugure this crap had to be coming from th Peoples Republic of Oregon before I clicked on the story. I think those left coast loons are even worse that the Kalifornia variety.

  • tmosley

    You can’t cooperate with governments. You can only bend the knee.

    If you want to keep what is yours, you have to fight so hard that it isn’t worth it for them to take it from you. This fight starts by never asking them for any form of permission for anything. They may come out with guns to force you to do something, but that is terrible PR. Be sure the local news and alternative media know about it.

  • Tom

    Judging by the photo, this is not the property being discussed. The photo is of a farm. The pond is for the use of the farmer. It looks like a natural pond. It would be nice to see what is being discussed here before I comment.

  • MSMediacritic

    The bigger the gov’t, the smaller the citizen. Government is so big now, we are like ants to them. To be crushed.

  • qman

    Start a petition to get the law changed

  • P. Douglas

    Plus side, the odds are that the property owners are pro-big government libs, so how do you like your arbitrary, non-sensical, and intrusive government laws now?

    • permalink

      And probably lived in a city their entire life up to this point. I see this all the time near my Colorado mountain property. City-idiots come in, buy their piece of heaven, and then whine when told they can’t arbitrarily do something, “But it’s mine, I OWN it”…

    • Gerry Ingram

      Grow up already. You don’t even know what liberal means.

  • Gerry Ingram

    If you don’t like it, change it. I wrote letters to Greg Walden, Jeff Merkly and Ron Wyden. I am going to send one to the state legislature too. But if you don’t want government stamping on us all the time, this crap has to stop. If your not an Oregon constituent, I don’t give a shit what you think.

  • blad

    Now here is a worthy cause for the guys that got ambushed in OR by the contractors. Need about 100 armed men standing their ground guarding the pond. Maybe draw up a big sign with a star and a canon.

  • Jayson Barjarat

    I believe I would just ignore the government on this one. This is totally out of line, but there is a lot of laws in Oregon that fit into the idiotic or Fascist category. Federal Law is something all state governments should ignore. Pay no Federal taxes, I guarantee you things will change in a hurry. But American’s do not understand how much power we the people have together.

  • blad

    Post the home addresses of these bureaucrats and the judges that said it was OK to murder citizens dogs today.

  • SilverCristo

    Government overreach applied by parasites. One can only hope in the era of Trump the swamp does get drained. Unbelievable.

  • Army Vet 4444

    This whole new thing with the Federal Government telling you what you can and can’t have on your own property has gotten WAY out of control. This kind of story just makes me so mad I can only see red. “INFURIATING” is putting it mildly. I have some property in Texas that I put a small lake on, and I’m kind of waiting for the Feds to come in and mess my day up.

  • As your Lord God Emperor and Savior of the Universe, I am informing you that the Government is the supreme god and it owns you and everthing you own. You owe your existence to Government and to Me, your Lord God Emperor.

  • alpha_protagonist

    uck Foregon. Californians destroyed that state too.

  • Nishi

    How do ranchers water their livestock without retention dams? This is just weird.

  • JonRobin

    This he same ilk as the guy with the 3 huge cisterns for many years, that were on his property for off grid rainwater catchment. Just seems the “Gubmint” there doesn’t want a bunch of nature lovers or pot growers in their state. Thats a shame bc I love Oregon. Its a simply gorgeous state. Seems tho there’s a lot of big govt douche bags in Salem that dont seem to follow the populous mindset.

  • Abcdef098

    We need to return to our native roots. The earth is telling us we need to stop our destructive ways or we won’t see tomorrow. We are totally divided from each other that we don’t understand that we are all one. We need to work together and stop relying on the illusion of government and the conditioning we have all been subjected to from birth. We are not zombies and deep down inside there is something we have that is special and undefinable. I hope that anybody who sees this message will see that too.

  • Thanks to Amendment 5, the pond “belongs” to the government as well. In fact, thanks to eminent domain, property taxes, and public lands, all of America is “owned” by the government.

    For more, see online Chapter 14 “Amendment 5: Constitutional vs. Biblical Judicial Protection” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective” at

    Then find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey at and receive a complimentary copy of a book that EXAMINES the Constitution by the Bible.

  • James L Colter

    Let me preface my commentary with full disclosure: I am not a lawyer, nor do I reside where leadership, displays intelligence; which, long ago, was ascribed to the effects of incest! Or, was it being dropped on its head as an infant? No matter! Claiming ownership of water is not just ludicrous, that s**t died with the last cattle baron. A natural stream which flows across ones property does not convey ownership of the water, nor the flow thereof, to anyone. I submit that if the government claims ownership of the water on MY LAND, they better DAMN WELL GET THEIR WATER OFF MY LAND! Do not disturb my peaceful enjoyment, nor cause any damage in the process. The resulting cause of action; claiming past due rent, pain and suffering, emotional distress, PTSD … but I digress. The proverbial bell has been rung. Using the standard proffered by local government, as justification; would not property owners, be within their right to withhold payment of property taxes, in lieu of a more equitable settlement? One which addresses; the need to assess taxes, as well as, protect citizens from, past AND likely future, breaches of the public trust, perpetrated by such ignorance as currently looms, ready to pounce on the good people of Butte Falls, Oregon. For one, I will pray, for deliverance of the people and the speedy arrival of next Election Day. Please, won’t someone in Butte Falls, forward a photo to me, picturing the idiot in charge, standing in the Unemployment Line? Stand your ground … force them to show proof of jurisdiction … proof of ownership … proof of sanity!!! OMG

  • Kevin Cvalcuic

    So if the government owns all the water then I no longer need to buy insurance to protect against water damage. The government gladly pays the damage its water does.

  • Gia Failla
  • Johnny Thorne

    Nobody owns the rainwater. It’s free as long as it’s not part of a river system.

    • Jim McCart

      Tell that to the democrats . They think everything other people work for is theirs . Typical liberals .

  • Fubar

    Tell the government to remove their “property” from your land & start billing them “storage” fees for every day that it remains.

  • disqus_ATdC4CSy4Y

    This sounds like an Oregon version of Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley’s “Rain Tax” in the socialist paradise of Maryland.

  • rockbird

    But wouldn’t the illegality of having a pond on the property have been priced-in when he bought the property? That is, he would have had to pay a lot more for the property, and so might not have been able to buy it to begin with.

    • Jim McCart

      No he just wants the democrats to mind their own business . The govt sucks . They want to control EVERYTHING when they know nothing . Liberals have destroyed this country . Maybe after a few inspectors disappear they may change their tune . People are so sick of the liberals trying to run peoples lives . I hope Trump shoves their faces into the ground . That means all liberal losers .

  • Bill the Cat

    The EPA desperately needs to be b itch-slapped hard enough to loosen their teeth and make their ears bleed. After that, I’d start firing the vast majority of them.

  • joleenworden

    Couldn’t the Water Commission just be voted out altogether? How about voting out the 1925 laws that are ridiculous and illogical? The ballot is a strong tool if the people in the area want to use it. Oregon seems to be populated with a lot of fools who have not one whit of common sense. In NH our rules are just the opposite; we cannot fill in ponds without permission. The Government needs to butt out of private property.

    • permalink

      “Oregon seems to be populated with a lot of fools who have not one whit of common sense”

      Liberals are in control in Oregon. And the liberals will not be happy until everyone is as miserable as they are…

  • Larry Wilson

    the government is out of control…. they can’t even manage their own affairs and they want to control us f%ck them, they obviously have forgotten that “WE THE PEOPLE” control them, not as they wish – that they control us, I kind of remember from science class, it was a long time ago though, water came from asteroids and space /nature NOT THE GOVERNMENT! they may have been able to “persuade” a few scientist to support their bulls^t claims to “climate change” but, not sure they could get them to support the claim that government provided/created the water

  • Mike Edwards

    Ask them to remove the water as it’s there’s on your land and if they don’t send them a bill for storage changes.

  • Steve LaFontaine

    this is what happens when you live in a communist state.

  • Gregg Macklin

    Vote ALL of them out, and have the laws changed. Simple

  • Mitchell Brown

    So, for all the folks who think property rights are absolute, and that you should be able to do anything you want with it, A. Should I be allowed to run a strip club next to the daycare? B. Should pitbull fighting be legal? (pit bulls are “chattel” property – like you lamp, your car, and the clothes in your dresser).

    If you don’t think A & B are reasonable, then you’ve opened the door to regulation.

    Also, you have a right to water, but not to having it delivered to your home in a clean state that won’t kill you.

    For that, you have to pay for it.

  • Sophy Urchin

    WTF?! are you all STUPID?! “Govt OWNS the rainwater” fucking REALLY?!?! HUMANITY IS FUCKING FUCKED. Just because this place is called “free thought blog” and seems to be run by hippies, doesn’t mean it is, like a lot of online news sites, full of shit! Liars come in all forms, even hippies can be lyinng sacks of crap.

  • Ragman69

    Liberals are a menace to all of us….including liberals. Yet they don’t see it. What happened to, “get the hell off my property?”

  • fanofjesus

    agenda 21 slowly making progress, from the ground up

  • Karl

    “The bigger story here is that rainwater collection is indeed kosher in Oregon, provided that you’re capturing it from an artificial, impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels.”

    Easy-Peasy —– Just roll out acres of water-proof canvas/tarp (an impervious surface) and use those ‘ponds’ as catchment areas.

    Cost a few thousand dollars, but it would beat the terrorists at their own game.

  • xarai

    because they were not willing to fight for their rights.
    You have a right to protest that and just like standing rock people will help you
    stop being a total bitch and allowing things like this and they won’t happen

  • Bill Conroy

    Seriously? Where have you been the last 100 years? Woodrow Wilson started the big government take over of your personal rights and you LOVED it. Big government can take as well as give and you should keep that in mind as you vote pelosi and her ilk in again and again. Dems = Big government.

  • ingersol

    So the pond and the law are both at least 40 years old but it has only become an issue in the last few years. Why is that? I will take a wild guess. the county is looking to sell the rights to the water to a private enterprise that will jack up water rates as far as the market will bear. Having interlopers taking that water for free could hurt the price that they will get for the sale.

  • Tommy Keys

    Compel the court to identify itself and expose it’s Fraud – challenge jurisdiction. The government has NO lawful claim to this couple’s land. Also the 40 year old pond is an established wetland according to the statutes of the State. Hold them to it and defend yourself from these cowardly bullies.

  • Scott Figgins

    Who signed into law the clean water act ? That would be your precious Obama . The dems have to have there hands in everything you do . Some people are Just plain blind