Oregon ‘Rain Man’ Fined, Sent To Jail For Collecting Rainwater


Gary Harrington paid the penalty for building three reservoirs and collecting rainwater on his 170-acre property on Crowfoot Road, in rural Eagle Point. His ponds held more than 13 million gallons of water, enough to fill about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. He was convicted of nine misdemeanors and sent to 30 days in Jackson County Jail, slapped with a $1,500 fine, and ordered to breach his dams and drain his ponds. Why?

Because a reservoir set-up, complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams, is forbidden without the state-issued water-right permits — since Oregon law dictates that water is a publicly owned resource — and he did not possess said permits. Interestingly, Harrington and his brother had asked the ‘water managers’ for a water certificate in 1973, but since he was just collecting rainwater, they couldn’t issue him one.


The government is bullying. They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” Harrington told CNS News.

In 2007, a Jackson County Circuit Court judge denied his permits. They ruled that he had “illegally withdrawn the water at issue from appropriation other than for the City of Medford”. “[In 2003] They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just as arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said ‘No, you can’t have them,’ so I’ve been fighting it ever since,” Harrington added.

A 1925 law states the city of Medford holds all exclusive rights to “core sources of water” in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.

“Way back in 1925 the city of Medford got a unique withdrawal that withdrew all — supposedly all — the water out of a single basin and supposedly for the benefit of the city of Medford. The withdrawal said the stream and its tributaries. It didn’t mention anything about rainwater and it didn’t mention anything about snow melt and it didn’t mention anything about diffused water, but yet now, they’re trying to expand that to include that rain water and they’re using me as the goat to do it,” Harrington clarified.

Oregon Water Resources Department Deputy Director -Tom Paul, told Medford Mail Tribune, “Mr. Harrington has operated these three reservoirs in flagrant violation of Oregon law for more than a decade. What we’re after is compliance with Oregon water law, regardless of what the public thinks of Mr. Harrington.”

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  1. I am not surprised this happened in the scum stat of Oregon. So very sorry this man has been victimized by this criminal state. How is he doing now? I would like more information. Please let Mr. Harrington and his family know they are in my prayers. Thank you for helping him.

  2. God and nature gave him the water..and stupid assholes want to fine him? Throw him in Jail? Go after the murderers and child molesters and criminals, not hard working people trying to get along…

  3. Si cette homme a fait du mal a prendre de l’eau ,,,bien que la loi sois maudite ,,,,la C grave en clisss le juge si il condanne cette homme pour de l’eau bien moi fini votre pays stupide je fait une pétition et je mets sa sur facebook sa fera le tour du mond ,,,et après demander vous pas pourquoi il n’y a plus de visiteur chez vous lolll une vrai JOCKE ,,,

  4. He was diverting run-off into large storage ponds and disrupting natural waterways that other people in the region relied on. he was told 3 times to stop damming up the creeks, etc., because he was keeping the water from going to other people’s properties. He was being greedy and not taking everyone else’s water needs into consideration, and basically told the judges to “fuck off”, and, in return for his arrogance, he wound up being fined something like ten grand on top of a 30-day jail sentence.


      • Are you aware that there actually is a global water crisis? Look at California! I feel bad for this guy, but you’re an idiot if you think this resource is so abundant he wasn’t screwing anything up for anyone.

        • Actually right. We were warned in the 1970-80’s that a water crises was on its way globally, but no one cared. We didn’t buy drinking water in bottles then either. Water fountains were standard everywhere, stores, gas stations, everywhere just like phone booths.

        • there would be if their useless government allowed people to privately collect and refine water. actually someone could probably get rich by building a massive reverse osmosis plant on the coast and selling the purified water and sea salt

          • The reasons for controlling water are numerous and needed. Without water control, squatters, groundwater needs to be replaced as needed to keep wells from running dry. Also, there are many biological reasons. Anadromous fisheries such as Salmon and Steelhead, DollyVardon etc, as well as local fish and other needs for plants that filter water and other animals, reptiles and species. Potable (drinking) water makes up less than 2% of the Earth’s water and needs to be watched over and maintained. All life needs water, and it’s important to all the ecological systems on the earth. I suggest you rethink your position.

    • I agree. Since he was diverting water that should have continued to flow to other properties, he is in the wrong. What gives him the right to take all the water for himself?!?!

      If he dug a giant whole in the ground and only collected the rainwater, that would be a different story.

      No one should be allowed to divert streams / rivers just because they travel thru their property. No one should own that water.

      He defied the local government, broke the law, and he got what he deserved. I don’t understand how he is being made out to be a martyr.

      • Because the government is a criminal enterprise not unlike a mafia, thus it has no rights to say anything to anyone unless the person they are trying to control believes them to have the authority to do so. Maybe if the government wasnt so busy trying to fuck every single citizen out of every penny they earn they would realize that the solution to the lack of potable water problem is to privatize the utilities and allow for innovation and local sourcing so the people can fix the problem that the government created. Several privately owned reverse osmosis stations would solve most coastal issues of potable water and could possible be profitable enough to transport it further inland. but everyone has this economically illiterate knee jerk reaction to capitalism that it can only be evil just cuz it gives them a sad when contrived economics like communism or socialism sound flowery and great on paper so make them feel all nice about equality even though it has proven to cause more economic disparity. this man is innocent of all wrongdoing, the state is guilty of preventing the people from resolving the drought.

        • I really enjoyed your post post and was wondering if u were apart of Facebook so I could learn n follow. You see at the age of 35, I see now things are not what they seem and I have much to learn, myself, husband, friends, family but most importantly my children. Kindly let me know or you can search my name jennifer Corrado as my pic is of me as evil queen w my daughter as snow white, last yrs costumes, lol….regards n thanks for the great post, jennifer n family

          • On a different subject, but if like learning. Research 9/11/2001. We’ve been lied to well over a decade Ann a half. Three towers fell from kerosene (jetfuel)? No. Planes didn’t destroy them , demolition did.

    • Thank you! That was it exactly! You can collect water from your roof and barn roof but you can’t create systems that endanger water supplies and riparian habitat downstream…It isn’t that nobody owns the rain…EVERYTHING owns the rain.

      • Technically Oregon owns the water above on and below the state of Oregon. They allow us to use it for our homes animals and yards/home gardens but above that we are supposed to ask and be granted permission. That is how it was explained to me by a local water master.

    • thanks, this helps clears thing up. I definitely agree that rainwater belong to anyone that need water. What ever he does with his land doesn’t matter, as long as he’s not permanently disrupt this liberty.

  5. I wonder how his neighbors felt about having their streams run dry because of his dams. How about the townsfolk when their faucets no longer produce water.

    Whilst it sounds right that rainfall should belong the property owners, it’s obvious when you think further that run off should be a community asset. What soaks in is his.

  6. These bylaws are nothing more than policies not actual law…these bylaws are supposed to protect communities from corporate hording not take away rights to natural resources from the People…This purported law is NOT enacted i will guarantee that and if fought in a federal court for lack of enactment can be easily won!

  7. So the government owns the sky, the clouds, and the water that comes from them. Got it.




  10. This reminds me of the movie Tank Girl. Corporations owned all the water.

    People we need to get behind Bernie Sanders. The government and corporations are WAY out of line!

  11. If the water is publicly owned, why is a member of the public prohibited from collecting the share that falls on his property? Makes no sense at all.

  12. Can anyone explain me the logic, where someone is catching rainwater ONLY on his land and some say here, he has a duty to give a share of his rainwater to others. How is that? Have not every land owner there the same rainwater share (according to their land area)? Can’t they catch their own rainwater? How is a man, who is catching rainwater on his land making trouble for his neighbours? For not giving him his share of rainwater? It is only raining on his land?

  13. Even dams which are engineered and constructed properly according to building codes and accepted safety procedures have failed and killed lots of people. To allow some dumb yahoo to bulldoze dirt piles in front of flowing water is just stupid, and dangerous for anyone downstream. The guy broke the law. The headline is FAKE NEWS because he wasn’t jailed for collecting water, he was jailed for being intransigent in the face of criminal charges of building dams without a permit and engineering. I’m about through with this site. FAKE NEWS.

  14. God made it rain so God owns the water are I saying You as the government have more power than God. How dare you… God have mercy on you..

  15. I think the key words from Oregon Water Resources are “…regardless of what the people thinks…” This shows a total disregard of the people they are supposed to represent.

  16. really? I suppose it does not matter that this water was going to run down into a river, then run into the ocean. then do it all over again. Once the reservours got full they continue to run down hill called GRAVITY. An the water would continue onto it’s original course. If not just help it a little to continue. No Big Deal. once that was established. Especially in the winter. When I suppose he started filling. There was more than enough water for the people, animals, river, ocean, otters, reptiles, ect, ect, ect. No harm no foul


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