Man Arrested for Harvesting Rain Water

EAGLE POINT, Ore. — A Southern Oregon man is serving a 30-day sentence in jail for creating three illegal reservoirs on his property and using them to store rainwater. Gary Harrington has been collecting rain and other runoff in his artificial reservoirs for decades, but according to a 1925 state law, since that runoff would typically run into Butte Creek, the water belongs to the city of Medford. Therefore, Harrington cannot get the necessary permits for the reservoirs.

The Butte Falls fire department is urging law enforcement officials not to drain the reservoirs. It says Harrington’s ponds can be an invaluable source in the event of a wildfire since there are no other similar water sources for miles.


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  1. Neil Horlock says:

    I say immediately open the dams and let the water out. Maybe it will wash Medford down the Butte Creek

  2. valli saucer says:

    This is pathetic and a real travesty of justice!!!! He created his own water reserves for his own reasons and purposes. He should not be serving a jail sentence for this. Some laws that old need to be changed for the good and not to penalize homeowners who have innovative ideas on how to conserve water as he has done. I would hope that some arrangement could be reached to resolve this issue and the city will pay him for this injustice and the harm caused his family by this. The fire department sees the need for such conservation…..so make it work for everyone’s good.

  3. jacob friedrich says:

    This is insane,I’ve been a wildland firefighter for 13 years and I can’t tell you how many times a pond like this has saved my and my crews life,I have a bunch video of helicopters picking up water out of these ponds to save lives of firefighters,I’m in shock over this,if someone dies cause we have to wait for water the judge that ruled to drain those ponds should be charged with murder.

  4. Jim P says:

    The amount of water he is storing is negligible, compared to evaporation and infiltration along the water shed. As long as the dam(s) he built are inspected annually and meet state and federal requirements (for safety reasons), he should be entitled to have his own water source. Return the permits to the property owner.

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