House Bill 15-1259 ("HB 1259") was just introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives to permit the use of rain barrels to collect water to irrigate lawns and gardens. While there’s little question that this bill would affect water rights, from the HOA perspective, HB 1259 would also make it impossible for HOAs to prohibit the use of rain barrels "to collect precipitation from a residential rooftop . . ."
The rooftops contemplated by HB 1259 include the roofs of single family homes and "an individual residence that is part of a row of residences joined by common sidewalls." In many cases, row houses are created as condominiums in Colorado. That means the roof of such a row house would not be part of the unit which the homeowner purchases. Instead, the rooftops would be common elements that are commonly owned by all of the owners of condominium units in the association. In this context, the condominium association (not an individual homeowner) should be the entity to collect and utilize the water on behalf of all of the owners in the community.
In the HOA context, there is also the question of liability to consider. What happens if a child were to drown in a rain barrel located on the common elements of a condominium association? There is no doubt the association would be sued. Why should the HOA be held liable for such a horrific event if the association cannot regulate or prohibit the placement of rain barrels on common elements?
While there is no doubt that HB 1259 is well intended, from the HOA perspective there would be many unintended and potentially costly consequences.