When first confronted with a drainage or WHAT CAN I DO IF MY NEIGHBORS
DRAINAGE potential flooding issue, the tendency of DIVERT OR MODIFY THEIR
some individuals is to look to someone PROPERTY AND CAUSE FLOODING
The issues associated with the flow of else to be responsible. An individual ON MY PROPERTY?
surface water drainage are not always may call the Watershed Protection
simple. In Southern California where we District (WPD, formerly Flood Control),
but will be advised that the WPD’s This is really a civil issue between you
enjoy mild weather the majority of the and your neighbor. The first suggestion
time, there is a tendency to ignore responsibility is only the maintenance of
designated flood control facilities. is to talk to your neighbor and try to
issues of storm drainage until significant resolve the issues. If this fails you may
storm events occur and either private The next step may be to call the have to engage legal counsel and/or a
property or public facilities are imperiled. Transportation Department. Hostility is civil engineer to protect your property
sometimes incurred when the property rights. Unless grading is done that
The basic drainage rule applicable in owner or individual is informed that the violates Chapter 33 of the County
California is that every landowner must problem is a private property issue. The Building Code, Ordinance No. 4273, the
bear the burden of receiving on his land County cannot spend money from the County has no authority or jurisdiction to
the surface water naturally falling from County Road Fund to resolve problems resolve such civil matters. If you think a
the land above it and naturally flowing to on private property for the exclusive grading violation has occurred, please
it and the corresponding right to freely benefit of one or two owners. Any call: (805) 654-2030.
pass this water to lower lands. improvements paid for by the
Transportation Department would MAY I DIVERT SURFACE WATERS
Each property owner’s duty is to leave require a demonstrated benefit to the ON TO THE COUNTY ROAD?
the natural flow of surface water road system and/or the traveling public.
undisturbed. A landowner may not divert
or increase the drainage flow to the The simple answer is to know if your
injury of the lower owner. In simplistic WHAT CAN I DO TO MINIMIZE diversion damages the roadway.
terms this has been phrased “Water DAMAGE TO MY PRIVATE According to the California Streets and
flows as water will flow.” While simple in PROPERTY? Highway Code §723, §726, and §1487,
context, the application of these any person who obstructs or injures
principles can be very complex legally, County roadway by draining water from
and advice from qualified legal counsel The first suggestion is to investigate his or her land onto the roadway is liable
is suggested for other than routine thoroughly any potential drainage for such damages. The property owners
issues. problems before you purchase the will be notified of the problem and
property. The previous owner may have informed that should they fail to remedy
a responsibility to disclose any known this situation immediately, the County
drainage or flooding problems. Ask if will cause the debris to be removed.
there are any drainage or flowage The property owners may be
easements on the property. Look at the responsible for any expense the County
property carefully. If your driveway or may incur in removing said debris or
house is below street level, there is a correcting the damage. In addition,
strong possibility that water may flow there may be liabilities for such
from the street onto your property. additional penalties prescribed by law.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT MY storms without adversely impacting
DRIVEWAY BECOMING FLOODED adjacent properties or County roadways.
EVERY TIME IT RAINS?
WHAT DOES THE COUNTY DO TO
This situation occurs because many ADDRESS DRAINAGE PROBLEMS
driveways slope down from the edge of BEFORE THE RAINS BEGIN?
the road to the house or business. This
may also occur if the culvert or drainpipe
under your driveway is too small for the Each year, the Transportation
existing flow. To address the problem, it Department’s maintenance staff performs
may be necessary to install a pipe to routine maintenance to make sure that
carry the water under the driveway or when it rains, water drains properly from
deflect the water away from your the roadway systems so that flooding
driveway. The maintenance of your does not impact the travel lanes.
driveway, including any drainage pipe or However, in heavy rainstorms, the
culvert under the driveway is your existing drainage systems may become
responsibility as the private property overtaxed. If you see a blocked culvert or
owner. For work in the road right-of-way, drainage inlet, please contact the road
an encroachment permit from the maintenance staff at (805) 672-2131 to
Transportation Department will be report the problem.
required, and we recommend you have
the work done by a licensed private It should be noted that there are many
contractor. areas of the County where there are no
existing drainage facilities. Several of
these areas are low, and in some cases
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR
below the historical flood plain. Ponding
PROVIDING PROPER DRAINAGE
or even flooding may be unavoidable in
FOR NEW DEVELOPMENT
such areas during heavy storm events.
REQUESTS AND INQUIRIES
Whenever a new development project
increases the storm water discharge
above the existing flow rates for the If you have questions, requests, or
property, developers are required to suggestions, please call Department
control the drainage on their properties at: or through the “Contact Us” link
to current flow rates. at: Rev. 2/21/08
Otherwise, documentation must be
provided demonstrating that drainage
from their property can be adequately
handled during 10, 50, and 100-year