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By Jordan Jardine

Over 60 percent of the adult human body is made up of water. We use water for drinking, washing, cooking, and much more. Water is an essential resource for sustaining life, and every living being on this planet deserves to have as much access to this precious liquid as possible. However, several U.S. states currently ban or heavily restrict the collection of rainwater. Some people could face jail time as a result of doing this seemingly harmless and natural act. For instance, according to the site AccuWeather, a 64-year-old Oregon man was arrested and jailed for 30 days for collecting rainwater on his own private property.

Oregon isn’t the only state to crack down heavily on rainwater collection. States with similar policies include Colorado, Ohio, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Idaho. To varying degrees, these states regulate the collection of rainwater, thus restricting the freedom of individuals to have tax–and regulation–free water for any number of purposes. Some of the states mentioned above do allow residents to collect rainwater for drinking, but there are still burdensome forms that must be filled out in order to get permission from the state government to do so. This is a horrendous and unacceptable system. Collection of rainwater should not be an action which requires permission from the government to perform. AccuWeather also said that the federal government is now stepping in to try to enforce rainwater collection laws. The site claims that in 2013, the EPA tried to pass federal rainwater regulations and was even sued by Virginia’s attorney general for this clear demonstration of federal overreach.

There is already so much that we do in our everyday lives that is regulated and/or taxed by the government in some way, shape or form. The least the federal and state governments could do is allow free individuals to gather whatever resources they need in order to survive, as long as they don’t hinder another individual’s access to those resources in the process. The freedom to collect essential natural resources should be a basic human right, but, of course, the government has to step in and exercise some level of control, thus preventing free citizens from having complete autonomy over their own lives while not harming anyone else.

Frankly, corporations should also not make a profit off of what should be a priceless commodity for survival like water. Americans spend billions of dollars on bottled water every year, destroying the environment and hurting their wallets as a result. Why should the hard-working citizens of this country, from New York to Iowa to Texas, have to spend endless amounts of money on something that should be free of charge due to its essential, life-sustaining properties? Rather than spending billions of dollars on plastic water bottles, Americans could spend only a few hundred dollars on a water filtration system which can filter rainwater and purify it for drinking, cooking and cleaning purposes. Not only would this make it so Americans would have to spend less on bottled water, but they could also see a drop in their water bills during rainier months because they wouldn’t have to rely on municipal water supplies.

Americans from all walks of life, whether from the costal urban centers or the heartland, are hurting right now and in order to function, they need to be able to cut costs anywhere they can, especially in times of great economic inequality. According to data from the Social Security Administration, more than half of Americans (about 51 percent) make $30,000 a year or less. This is morally reprehensible in a country that claims to be the best one in the world. Even more repugnant is the idea that these same Americans have to worry about providing water for their families, something they shouldn’t even have to waste a second thinking about. Both corporations and state and federal bureaucrats should not have the right to regulate or put a price tag on water, the very fabric of the survival, longevity and prosperity of almost every form of life on this miraculous planet we call Earth.

In the only home we’ve ever known, everybody can live and thrive off of the resources at our disposal, created by God or whatever higher power or deity one believes in. The matter here is allocation of these vital resources. This is not only a problem in America, but it is still a colossal problem around the world. However, before America can contribute to solving the problem of global shortages of water, it must first focus its attention on allowing its own citizens the freedom to collect water, rainwater in particular, for themselves. Federal and state bureaucracies should stay out of the way. Corporations should also stay out of the way. Nothing should stand in the way of the chance for humans to live free lives and be liberated from the fear of not being able to thrive and survive. A new hashtag must trend. We must tell our state and federal governments this: #MakeCollectingRainwaterLegalAgain.

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