Collecting rainwater on your own property can now lead to jail time, as proven by a farmer from the Western Cape who was just sentenced to prison for doing just that. Who owns the rain? The government, apparently, now. Not so long ago, it was common practice across much of the world to collect rainwater into man made wells on your property as a means of farming, irrigation, and having fresh clean water. It was just as common as canning your own food, having knowledge of at least some basic survival skills, and being self-sufficient.

It wasn’t even that many generations ago that all of this was common practice — people born before 1994 were pretty adept at these skills, as they were a necessity to survival. One of the main (and easiest) ways to ensure survival? Collecting rainwater on your own property. The practical uses for storing and collecting rainwater are numerous and many people across the world in rural areas still do it today for all of the reasons listed above.

However, since the Western Cape is suffering from a serious drought and water levels in dams are very low. The government has declared that it is now illegal to collect rainwater for yourself, even on your own property.

According to news sources, this is to ensure that rainwater flows into dams and rivers, so that everyone can benefit.

Mr. Nelson van Zyl, a 72 year old farmer from Cape Town was arrested on Friday afternoon for collecting water into his tanks and a small dam when a small amount of rain poured over the Cape. He is expected to appear in court in Cape Town on Wednesday next week.