Man Imprisoned for Collecting Rainwater on his Own Land

collecting rain water

On Wednesday, a man entered a jail cell in Oregon to pay his “debt to society”.

An Oregon man is serving a jail sentence for having had the audacity to collect rainwater on his land.

For years, Gary Harrington has battled with the Oregon Water Resources Department over reservoirs on his land that collected rainwater. The water officials claim that Harrington is violating a 1925 law by diverting water from the Big Butte River.

Harrington claims that he has done nothing of the sort and has just collected rainwater.

Harrington began his sentence on Wednesday and will be out in 30 days. He incurred a fine of $1500, was found guilty of nine misdemeanors, and sentenced to serve 30 days in jail.

When Harrington arrived at the jail, he was greeted by several people showing support for the man and he offered a few words of encouragement, saying, “I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty.”

In a recent interview, Harrington stated about the government, 

“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.”

“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,” he said. 

Is this what our government has become? Is this a service to the people?

Like the Bundy ranch standoff, people may view this case and conclude different levels of wrongdoing by Harrington. I believe that the government’s position is ridiculous just as I believe the government’s position with regards to the Bundy situation was ridiculous- but others may disagree.

What we should all be able to agree upon, however, is that in both instances, the government’s reaction was wholly inappropriate. A jail sentence and a criminal record that will fall Harrington forever is not the solution to a violation as minor as collecting rainwater on one’s land.