Oregon Couple Told They Have No Water Rights, Forced to Destroy Their Own Pond

... Because the rain belongs to the overbearing government, because corporate greed claims water is not a human right, and because Americans are not entitled to do what they please on their private property...


Remember the Oregon ‘Rain Man’ or Gary Harrington — who was sent to 30 days in Jackson County Jail and slapped with a $1,500 fine for collecting rainwater on his 170-acre property? He was ordered to breach his dams and drain his ponds that held more than 13 million gallons of water, enough to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Now, an Oregon couple faces a similar fate as Gary Harrington because the rain belongs to the overbearing government, because corporate greed claims water is not a human right, and because Americans are not entitled to do what they please on their private property.

The Jackson County Watermaster’s office has told Jon and Sabrina Carey to destroy their 2-acre pond — built 40 years ago, long before they bought the 10-acre property off Butte Falls Highway two and a half years ago — as they don’t have any water rights.

“I basically bought a lemon. That’s how they explained it to me.”

The county had no issues with the pond until Jon sought to grow legal medical cannabis on his property. He was then required to produce proof that he had a viable source of water for cannabis cultivation.

Although the county records clearly show the pond, the Watermaster’s Office claimed 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. As a result, the Careys stopped using pond water and resorted to trucking in water from Butte Falls for their household and garden needs.

pondSince the Medford Water Commission has rights to the watershed around Careys’ property — where Medford’s primary source of water, Big Butte Springs, is located — its staff denied Careys request to adopt the pond and treat it as a municipal water source so that the water could be used for emergency firefighting, wildlife habitat and as an additional source for municipal needs.

In spite of the government claiming ownership of rainwater as part of the public water supply, it still rejected the Careys’ plea to treat their pond as part of public property. 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.”

Careys’ attorney, Sarah Liljefelt, who filed a request with Jackson County to provide the couple a permit to store water, says:

“The reservoir on Ms. Carey’s property, though small, is one of the largest in the area. In the past, the pond has been used for fire suppression and is accessible to fire trucks from Butte Falls Highway. 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.”

The couple have agreed to not use the pond water for their household and garden needs and keep the pond for wildlife, fire suppression and for any purpose specified by the Medford Water Commission. They’ve also agreed to reduce the size of the pond from about 12 acre feet of water to 9.2 acre feet; execute an easement to the city of Medfore to flood the property, access the reservoir, and cause the reservoir to be drained any time the city deems necessary; and assume all costs associated with permitting, construction, maintenance and liability. However, the Medford Water Commission is unmoved.

“I’m terrified right now… I am trying to work with the various government agencies to resolve this issue so the property doesn’t lose one of its most valuable assets. We’re just trying to do it by the rules. I’m trying to cooperate.”

The couple recently received support from firefighting agencies that need the water for wildfires. A letter from the Oregon Department of Forestry to the Water Commission supported retaining the reservoir to help suppress wildfires and provide enough water for a multiday operation. Neal Laugle, state aviation manager for ODF, wrote:

“I would like to urge the Medford Water Commission to consider keeping the reservoir in place at its current capacity for the purpose of providing a long-term water source for wildland firefighting. Without the water, it could increase the length of a wildfire fight and could lead to more destructive wildfires.”

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    • From the Snopes article: “Although in a strictly literal sense Oregon resident Gary Harrington was indeed sentenced to prison for collecting rainwater”

      So….. Read more… Comment less!

      • Harrington built ponds without permits. It wasn’t about rainwater it was about not jumping through the bureaucratic hoops. It’s perfectly legal to build ponds as long as you follow the permitting procedure required by the state.

  1. Tell the American government to go fuck itself! they are the cause to cancer, Hell they are the cancer!
    freedom aint free! people of the world it’s time to wake the fuck up! it’s only us that can change the history from dark to bright, we dont need a leader, we need the people to rise against the evil of this world together! We will win if we stay together! WAKE UP!
    it will be too late to wake op later, we ”need” to rise and say ”NO!!!” to all the shit that hits the doors on Human beings. Stop the government! it’s total bullshit! we have to get together right now and stop this insanity that is going on and on and on. Wake op people! We are the people, we are freedom.

      • Almost every problem in America can be linked to overbearing local policy, while someone in Rural Iowa is bitching about “them there people in Detroit” their local politicians are creating more and more overbearing ordinances without their knowledge until its too late.

        • Explain….what does Iowa have to do with anything in this article? I’m not necessarily a fan of Gov Braindead myself, but if you’re going to throw out an argument, at least tell us which legislation you’re referring to. Us here Iowegians are actually pretty concerned about what happens in our state, and try to have compassion left over for others.

    • Quote taken from your link… “Although in a strictly literal sense Oregon resident Gary Harrington was indeed sentenced to prison for collecting rainwater”

      • No they haven’t been arrested…. Lord If “Alternative Facts” got people arrested Bannon, and Trump, and the rest of inner circle, and almost every politician EVER would have been arrested by now. While that might be desirable, it is NOT illegal to make stuff up, and say it is true, unless you are being questioned by Congress, or law enforcement.

  2. One day the American people is going to get fed up with the lying, deceitful, corruption of the government and all hell is going to break loose. The United States belongs to ALL American’s and not for the government to pad their own and their buds pockets. I just hope I am still around to see it.

    • I think the same and thin is absolute correct, gotta find in the Constitution This land is the land of The People. its not a monarchy where the land, waters belong to the crowned monarch. This is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard?? do the wind and light belong to Government ,tooo? hahahhahahahhahaha. Shit… Am I supposed to board my windows from light and air? I guess air belongs to Government too, so I better stop breathing, heheehhe Unfuckingbelievable. I hope it’s just a hoax!!!!!
      Fuck! rain, air,light ,wind belong to government. I guess, following this logic garbage in t
      he streets, lizards and homeless dogs belong to Goverment ,too. Then remove them too. But not for the taxpayers money. How about ants and mosquitoes??? I cant stop luffing…

      • I’ve heard/read that there are some jurisdictions in the West where a property owner cannot interfere with the view or access to sunlight of a neighbor. Fences, even when they have been there for a number of years, have been ordered torn down. Trees that were OK when younger, but have gotten taller, even though planted by a previous owner, but now have grown enough to “interfere” have been ordered to be cut back, if not down. To heck with how it affects your own desire for privacy.

  3. It’s true in general that, west of the Mississippi river, you don’t own the water that falls on your property. But water rights protect us not hurt us. These people simply didn’t vet the property well enough before they bought it. Put the situation in reverse, suppose they had been receiving the runoff to irrigate their marijuana and their neighbor had damned up the runoff. Then they’d be out of business through no fault of their own.

    • you realize that building damn doesn’t stop water from flowing further down stream right? That would cause the dam to overflow, and ultimately it would fail and let a torrent of water flow out. dams can be built to allow continual flow, while diverting the a portion of the flow into the resevoir until it is full. Once full it is not difficult to meter the flow through a weir. The end result is a pond that is useful for wildlife, firefighting and potentially crops if there is enough. because you know what…. a significant portion of that water used for crops will return to the water table and continue down stream. The county/title company should have noted this upon the sale of the property. and your analogy is pointless, the situation is what it is, the reverse is not relevant.

      • What you say is true but has nothing to do with the water harvesting laws, which were written before there was any water distribution infrastructure and it was believed essential that the natural flow of surface and rain water mustn’t be interfered with.

        Most of the old water harvesting laws have been modified or revoked to account for the modernization of water distribution but some of the old ordinances are still on the books.

        In Oregon, rainwater harvesting is legal but with some restrictions. Holding systems from barrels up to sizeable cisterns are permitted on private property but artificial ponds, dams and catchments require special permits.


  4. Why don’t they just vote out all the elected officials that go along with this and replace them with people that think the way they do

  5. You may need all the guns you have as a Revolution is
    required America. You are now living under Fascist Corporate Tyranny.

  6. The rain belongs to the PEOPLE ya flippin’ hippie! The government is simply regulating who gets to keep it from the rest of us! You leftist hypocrites just don’t get it. It’s MY runoff just as much as yours. You’ve got no “water rights” keeping it in your pond!

    • If that pond had been there 40 years, I doubt anything down stream has been affected by it anymore as the run off continues as normal. This is just the county trying to screw up his way to grow medical dope. I bet if he was growing normal crops, they wouldn’t have said anything, and left it alone.

      • I don’t support his cannabis habit whatsoever, but you are right, IMO. If he was watering his radishes, he’d never heard a peep. If he purchased the property thru a realtor, they may be liable for not advising him his pond hadn’t been properly permitted. >

  7. Sounds like he has attorneys on it, and its really about different agencies bickering, wanting to control the water for their purposes, or having him drain it (at his expense) so other agencies (and his family) have no access to it. Rdiculous. All agencies need to be sued for their bickering and allow a judge or jury to decide what agencies can have rights (at their expense) to this man’s property and water that SUPPORTS without encroaching on the property owner and his family’s free rights and access to their own property and resouces

  8. It’s because he wanted to grow (legal) canibus on his property that all the agencies jumped in to stop him from growing it without saying it’s the canibus they’re stopping because that would be illegal. My earlier response still stands to let an unbiased judge or jury decide not only who can have access, but also whether or not the property owner can grow a crop of plants that are in high demand for medical purposes

  9. The rain and the water belongs to the people of Oregon held in common, held in trust, administered and protected by the Oregon Water Resources Department. This was thief of water from the common ownership, from the people of Oregon.

    • Close, but no cigar. Rain and water is held in common,in a trust? Wow, what a stretch. If the rain that falls on this guys property belongs to someone other than the guy himself, then he should sue the hell out of the state to tell them to stop allowing rain to fall onto his property, since he wants to plant only flora that can’t take a lot of water, like cactus. Of course, the state will try to get the suit tossed on the basis that rain is an act of nature, over which they have no control. So then, his lawyer says that the state can’t have it both ways. Rain water is either free, and no one owns it, or if they persist in saying that the state owns it, and is the only one to determine how it is used, then the state must be held responsible for whatever that rain does. How about if a flood from too much rain destroys the guys home. Can he force the state to pay to have his home rebuilt? I hope you see how absurd it is to say that an individual can’t use the natural phenomenon of rain for any legal use on his own property.

  10. How will the powers that be react, when a torrent of rain comes along…and no ponds or diverged streams are there to prevent catastrophic flooding? Ah, the Great Northwest! Where the claim to revere Mother Nature, while understanding nothing about Nature!

    • I understand a LOT about nature, having a Masters in Forest Science….and I live in the PNW. Property rights aside, water flows in a watershed. Water eventually flows downstream. While it resides on your property, so long as you don’t pollute it or otherwise cause problems with it for landowners on any side of your property, it should be of no concern to the County. The pond is great for wildlife and firefighting, and it could be dammed by beavers, etc., not only people. Why did the Jackson County Watermaster have any interest in what these people are doing with the water on their own land?

  11. It’s only going to get worse. we can not stop this or even slow it down. it is deeper then what we can even imagine. I agree with trying to wake people up. but most of them well not believe the truth. vary few people know who own and run the illuminati and what there real goals are. the 13 families at the top of the pyramid own the Vatican and run everything through the Vatican. the new world order wants a one world religion. the 13 families are the ones pushing the new world order with one religion which will be the religion pushed by the Vatican. the Vatican wants to depopulate this planet. google search ”pope wants to depopulate planet by 6 billion people”. the Vatican press put that out around 2 years ago. a few weeks ago there was an news release about ”pope appoints 3 high ranking over population ideologist”. these scientist don’t care about people. according to the holy scriptures the Vatican is going to depopulate this planet with nuclear war and it will kill 4\5 of the population. the holy scriptures only offers one place of protection. To learn of the only place of protection follow the link and read “The House Of Yahweh Established”.

  12. If the Government says they own all the water rights on your property then when there is a heavy rain that floods your land or destroys some of your property then sue the Government because they littered your property with their water or their water destroied your property. If enough people do this they might smarten up I dout it but it is worth a try becuse if you damaged your neighbor’s property you would get charged should be the same for the Government too.

  13. Its cheaper to put a bullet in the politicians of that area . Fact a criminal is less likely to try violating ones rights after being shot in the fucking head 2 or 3 times .

  14. The only recourse we the people have is at the ballot box, just as we did with the last election… when 3nough get tired of the oppresI’ve regulations, we will elect those that make the changes we want

  15. https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/Pages/law/index.aspx

    “Under Oregon law, all water is publicly owned. With some exceptions, cities, farmers, factory owners and other users must obtain a permit or water right from the Water Resources Department to use
    water from any source— whether it is underground, or from lakes or streams. Landowners with water flowing past, through, or under their property do not automatically have the right to use that water without a permit from the Department.”

    Also: https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/LAW/docs/Water_Vol_I.pdf

  16. That’s my Fukushima laced water and I want it dispersed ! Sincerely ,
    a fellow non pot huffing beardless Oregonian.

  17. Where did the Medford Water Commission get the authority from to own the rainwater or the pond that was developed before the family purchased the property the pond is sitting on. Where does this authority exist within the Constitution. The burden of proof that the Commission owns the water Rights should be placed on the Commission. they should have to prove they have the authority to make the claim that they have the Right to own the water Rights to the pond and any other water sources around or near the property. Put the burden of p[roof back on the Government entity that is causing all of the problems.

  18. Oregon is so out of it they say you dont own it they do and have a say what is allowed to be built on the land and what is not allowed to be there that instead of you paying a mortgage to a bank you pay to the state

  19. Why does my browser crash every time I visit this site? Hackers? Spies? I don’t know who to trust anymore. Yet this article was answered by some very rational answers. Honesty is missing among ignorant comments that breed contempt.

  20. The piece-of-shit Nazi government and their corporate
    mafia can go eat shit and drop dead!!
    Water IS an animal right AND a human right!!
    Mni Wiconi!!!
    Water Is LIFE!!!!

    • The National Socialist regime of Germany was fighting against the tyranny you see today. I am a dedicated National Socialist and I can assure you everything you think you know on the issue is incorrect.
      “You can kill us if you like, but we will NEVER surrender” –Adolf Hitler

  21. Why don’t people just ignore these ridiculous requests? I mean, this is the only language these people understand “No Compliance”.
    There is 2 choices, Defend your rights or surrender to the tyranny.
    Are you an American or NOT?


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