By: Ilyce Glink and Samuel Tamkin
Q: I am trying to figure out who is responsible for the flooding and damage that is happening to my property due to runoff from the road. I am hoping that you could help shed some light on my issue and help me understand who should be responsible to fix the problem.
The property I have is a rental property now, but it was my home before. The property suffers from a flooding problem in the back yard due to fast running water off of the road. The water runs down a ditch and takes the path of least resistance through my back yard. It then empties into an inlet in my neighbor’s yard.
The water is so deep and going at such a pace through a wooded area of my yard that it is eroding the soil, exposing the roots of the trees and killing them. It has torn down the fence along the road and my side fence several times. A technician with the county’s storm water division went out but says it isn’t their problem.
I contacted the homeowner’s association relating to that inlet. They investigated and decided that it wasn’t their responsibility, but the responsibility of the builder that put in the inlet. I don’t know where else to turn because everyone says it’s someone else’s fault. If you could help me to solve this issue, I would greatly appreciate it.
A: We doubt we can solve your water problems. Given the path the water takes through the road, it’s possible that additional construction in your area has caused more water to flow onto the street and onto your property. If this is the case, you’ll have a hard time pinning the responsibility for the water flow onto any one neighbor.
It would appear that the water issue would be a governmental issue on how to control it, but your local municipality may not want to spend the time or resources on this problem, particularly when the water isn’t causing damage to the home itself.
You should talk to a great landscape designer or landscape architect about your issue. Someone with this sort of knowledge and skill set may have ideas for you on what options you have to with the water flow to minimize the damage to your trees and fences. This solution might cost you money, unfortunately. However, sometimes it might be cheaper and easier to see if you can resolve the issue on your own than try to fight city hall.
Another option is to take your issue one-step up the municipal food chain. If your road is due to be resurfaced or improved in the near future, you might suggest that they take some action to alleviate the water issue. We’ve known people that have had similar issues to yours, with the water rushing into their garages. In those cases, the local municipality decided to install storm drains on the high point above their driveways to catch the water before it could flow into these peoples’ properties. They also pitched the road ever so slightly to keep the water flow off these properties.
That’s about all the information we can provide on this issue. If you can get your local authorities to focus on it, you might get some action from your local government. Otherwise, you’ll have to see what you can do from your end.