Private Property Drainage and flooding Issues

Stream formed from saturated ground

Stormwater runoff is generally rainwater that is unable to soak into the ground and runs off surfaces like roads, roofs, driveways, and lawns.

Q: What if runoff from neighboring properties are coming into mine?

Land alterations can change the way runoff leaves someone’s property. Poorly maintained home drainage systems can prevent them from working correctly. Similarly, neighborhood ditches and systems can become clogged with debris and are unable to remove stormwater from these localized areas.

Runoff should be directed towards the street or to a drainage system. However, downstream property owners are generally responsible for receiving runoff from roads, culverts and other upstream property owners.

Q: What is the City’s responsibility for maintaining runoff or drainage?

City staff perform regular maintenance and inspections of our publicly owned stormwater systems to reduce flooding. The City also reviews, inspects, and issues permits for development and land alteration plans, which ensure that all development and redevelopment meet City and State regulations. 

Q: What is my responsibility for addressing runoff or drainage problems?

Your property needs to be maintained to ensure adequate drainage during heavy rains. Here is what you can do.

Maintain your drainage system.  Know your stormwater system and make sure it is clean and functional. Storm drains collect water and move it downstream. Grates cluttered with leaves, garbage and other debris block flow and create flooding. 

Be a good neighbor.  In our rainy climate, stormwater is generally unavoidable. Water that is unable to soak into the ground will find its natural route downstream, often across roadways, paths and private property. Work with your neighbors to clear brush, debris and blockages from neighborhood ditches and shared storm drains. Make sure driveway culverts are clean, functional, and constructed correctly.

Concerns with stormwater flow between neighboring properties are a private issue, and the City cannot intervene. Uphill property owners should consider how their landscaping and grading could impact lower properties, and downhill property owners should recognize that water always follows the laws of gravity. A reasonable and cooperative compromise serves both parties and fosters neighborhood harmony. 

Q: Can I alter the drainage from my property? 

Stormwater runoff is considered a “common enemy,” and everyone has the general right to protect their property from upstream flows. But this right is mitigated by a few considerations. First, you cannot block a natural drainage course. Second, the water needs to leave your property in the same manner and amount as the water's natural flow before the changes to the drainage were done. Finally, and above all else, you must exercise due care to avoid unnecessary damage. 

Flooding beside tree

See an issue outside of

your property? 

Report flooding or emergent drainage issues in the public stormwater system or roadway 24-hrs at