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Thread: Preserving stormwater overland flow paths

  1. #1
    Member
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    Edwardsville, IL
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    Preserving stormwater overland flow paths

    Greetings!

    I am wondering how other communities deal with preserving stormwater overland flow paths (mostly in residential subdivisions, but elsewhere as well).

    What we have experienced is developers determine stormwater overland flow paths in advance and show them on the Preliminary and Final plats. However, once the home is built, property owners then place berms, gardens, backyard play equipment, landscaping, etc into these paths, changing the way water crosses the property to intermittent streams. Then, when the rain finally does come, everyone is left scratchin' their heads and pointing fingers, wondering why water is pooling in their back yards or, even worse, causing the very serious issues you see in the attached photos.

    To help insure that overland flow paths are protected, we have suggested that concrete drainage swales/flooms be installed in overland flow path areas. Citing expense and general "ugliness" of these swales, others have suggested concrete posts that clearly denote and may help prevent intrusion of landscaping, etc into these flow paths. Still others have said the city needs to be other there making sure the paths flow uninhibited in perpituity(an impossible task, of course, as we have much less control over what takes place after the buiding occupancy permit is issued---What's to stop a property owner who's just purchased the lot from the original owner from unknowingly installing a landscape berm 10 years later?)

    My inquiry is what has your community done to help insure that these paths are maintained? Any suggested approaches that you have found to be effective? I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this as we are striving to find ways to not let these incidents happen again.

    Thanks!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails overland1.jpg   overland2.jpg  

    overland3.jpg   overland4.jpg  


  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Two approaches come immediately to mind:
    1. Deed all subdivision stormwater infrastructure over to a municipal entity.
    2. Place restrictive covenants (deeded to either a municipality or a homeowners association) on all lots with communal stormwater infrastructure.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  3. #3
    Wouldn't an easement work to keep these free?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Wouldn't an easement work to keep these free?
    I concur. I commonly put drainage easements on my plats.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    We have always required drainage easements on plats. Unfortunately that does not stop the individual from installing terraces, berms, walls, etc. outside the easement which directly affect drainage patterns. Storm drainage plans work very well on individual sites; very difficult to enforce for entire subdivisions. Unless a permit is involved, all you can do is go after the person after the fact. And then I hope it is a civil law matter between property owners.

    You can require as-built elevations for structures, and we have in really troublesome areas. But landscaping is a tough one to control.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am in agreement with Mike on this one. Deed restrictions are commonly used to prohibit altering the drainage on individual lots, but they are a bit like traffic laws. You know people will break them. Some do it deliberately and others do it unknowingly. An educational program might help. I like the idea of posts, but realize that they would disappear over time. Concrete lining, besides being ugly and costly, would also be wrong from an environmental point of view. Enforcement would be a nightmare. Leave it as a civil matter.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian MazerRackham's avatar
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    In a former gig, I started getting flooding complaints from several home owners. We discovered that one owner had brought in several loads of dirt and raised the grade of her backyard...even covered a manhole in the process. This of course was sending all her runoff into her neighbors' yards. We made her remove it all at her expense and restore the grade that was approved through the development process. Why couldn't you do the same for property owners that are causing your problems?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    While I have absolutely no idea what the legal issues for this would be in Illinois, Florida has been dealing with these issues since 1986 through the creation of stormwater utilities. See Establishing a Stormwater Utility.

    Instituting a stormwater utility would allow for the mapping and maintinence of these easements, as well as the creation of a comprehensive stormwater management plan whose implementation could be funded by utility revenues.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    .

    You need easements in favor of multiple parties, so that any of them can enforce, including the HOA, any member of the HOA, local municipality, any appointed planning commissioner, subdivision committee member, or zoning administrator, county sheriff, county engineer, district attorney, flood control district president and chief engineer, etc.

    .

  10. #10
    Member
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    Edwardsville, IL
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    Preserving stormwater overland flow paths

    Thank you to everyone who responded. I was out a few days and haven't had a chance to check back in.

    While the "overland flow paths" are within easements, there are several suggestions here which we will explore further. I am particularly interested in what Florida is doing and am also interested in possibly creating easements in favor of multiple parties (which is kind of like a "Neighborhood Watch Program", only for easements instead of "suspicious crime activity"). Overall, though, seems like there is no "magic bullet" here as a solution.

    If there are additional ideas, please post them. I will also check back to let you know what we decided thanks!

    Scott

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