A recent storm caused water backup in driveway storm pipes (also known as culverts), leading to stone in yards being washed out. There is a question as to who is responsible for the maintenance of culverts.

Public Services Director Ken Unger said, “The homeowner is responsible for ensuring the pipes under driveways are clear of obstructions and are the right size to handle water flowing down the street during typical rain events. The pipes were placed by the person who built the residence. No storm pipe would be large enough to handle the volume of water generated in particularly heavy rain events like the one we recently had. In either scenario, the POA is not liable for the pipe that runs beneath homeowners’ driveways or for storm-related damage brought on by these pipes. Maintaining your driveway pipe and the cleanliness and proper level of the drainage ditch that leads to the pipe can all help prevent these situations.

“Last but not least, we advise individuals who frequently experience these washovers to avoid planting any landscaping, such as mulch or small stone, in these locations that future heavy rain events would influence.”

At a recent Public Services meeting, Unger explained that culverts in residential areas are generally designed for a ten-year storm, which is one or two inches of rain per hour. What we had on May 11 was anywhere from four to ten inches of rain in a very short time. Rainfall readings across the Village varied. It is considered an Act of God or an Act of Nature. Unger said, “My advice to residents is, now you know where your stuff will get washed out. If you don’t want it to happen again, don’t put stuff there…Residents must be aware that another unusual rainfall event could happen again.”

“We also need the help of residents to upkeep the ditches and islands (on cul de sacs) – to clean up around the road systems. We can’t do it all. We do it on demand. If you have a problem and are getting flooded, call us, and we will check it out. If it is our issue, we will take care of it. We don’t proactively clean ditches on 468 miles of road,” stated Unger.

POA owns right-of-way on both sides of roads

A right-of-way extends on either side of the road and is owned by the POA. This right-of-way is considered to be a part of the roadway. “If the road is 20′ wide, that roadway may be 40′ or 50′ wide, which means there is another five or ten feet or more on the edge of the road pavement owned by the POA.

On the property itself, there is another seven-and-a-half foot easement that Cooper [Cooper Communities, Inc.] has rights to. This easement generally extends well beyond where you see the boxes for utilities.

Unger said, “Most residents don’t own the ditch but use it like it is their property. They landscape it and do all this nice stuff in it, and then when it gets washed out, they call us to come and fix it. Doing these things to the ditch is at the homeowner’s risk.”

By Cheryl Dowden

Contact Information for Public Services Director

Ken Unger
Director Public Services
Hot Springs Village