Environmental Law

Oregon's 'Rain Man' Reports for 30-Day Sentence in Rainwater Collection Dispute

An Oregon man began serving a 30-day sentence last week after he was convicted in July of maintaining illegal reservoirs on his property.

But Gary Harringon continues to dispute the charges, saying he was only collecting rainwater and snowmelt, largely for fire protection for his 172-acre property in rural Eagle Point, CNSNews reports.

Harrington was prosecuted under a 1925 statute that gives the Medford Water Commission broad water rights to the Big Butte Creek Basin, an earlier story by the Mail Tribune reports.

Harrington, who has long battled with authorities over water rights, was first convicted of illegally taking water in 2002. In addition to the jail sentence, Harrington was ordered to drain the ponds on his property and pay $1,500 in fines, another Mail Tribune story notes.

While Harrington maintains he’s done nothing wrong, water managers have long argued that the rainwater Harrington is collecting is from a tributary of a nearby creek. Represented by counsel in the past, Harrington reportedly fired his lawyer earlier this summer and represented himself at trial.

“To state officials, Harrington is a serial water thief. To supporters, he’s ‘Rain Man,’ a poster boy for those who believe government is overstepping its bounds,” the Mail Tribune notes.

Hat Tip: FindLaw

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