Natural law of drainage--legal question

gardenerzone4(5b)April 25, 2010

Can my downhill neighbor put up a berm to obstruct the natural drainage of water from my lawn across his lawn?

That's what he's done. I have pictures that show my lawn naturally draining into the lot that his house is on before the house was even built. But since his father is an excavation contractor, he's since imported 5 truckloads of dirt to raise the grade on his lawn up--by as much as 2 feet at places. I now have a drainage problem in the water that would have naturally flowed down through his lawn.

Not wanting to make an enemy, I first tried to address the problem by putting in a catch basin at the lowest point in my lawn and running a corrugated pipe out to the neighborhood water feature. Got a nasty letter from the HOA telling me to remove the pipe from the outlot, so now I'm left with no options.

I approached neighbor with the problem (and the HOA letter) for the 3rd time and he said no way is he regrading his lawn to let my water drain out through his yard (it's not even sodded yet). Instead, he told me I should rip up my landscaping, take down my fence, and regrade my own lawn to fill it up higher so my water can drain another way.

If he created the drainage problem, shouldn't he be the one to fix it? Aren't there laws that compel him to fix it? I need to balance standing up for myself with making an enemy. But I can't imagine that this guy didn't realize what he was doing when he imported all that dirt. Yet he did it anyway--so why am I the only one worried about turning a potential neighbor into an adversary?

Any thoughts? Are there laws that govern this stuff?



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If this were a stream or river I think he would be in the wrong, but not simply run off rain water. I think you'd have to look up the laws for your area, but I think he has a right to solve water problems on his property. If it causes a problem for your drainage then that's your problem.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 4:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Check with your city, county or state ... they often have laws controlling "diversion of water" and doing things that cause flooding.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 2:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A letter from an attorney should change his mind. Don't waste time or it will be hard to prove that he made a change.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi GZ,

If he has done any grading, he would have needed a permit from the City or County and permission from your HOA. If they have approved a plan obstructing your previous drainage way, both the City and HOA can be held liable. Talk to permit office or HOA first and if you don't like their answer talk to a lawyer. Or better yet have a lawyer talk to them first and proceed from there. Your HOA has precluded you from any mitigation you could have reasonably afforded. Also bring up that your neighbor's father is a licensed contractor and is using his business influence with the permitting authorities to sway there sound and reasonable judgment(some sort of hanky-panky). Just as an aside, lots in a subdivision are normally designed not to drain into someone else's yard in the first place. You can get the original grading plan for your lot from the permitting agency. Make sure you or a previous owner has not changed the original grading. If this is so you are toast. Good Luck. Aloha

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 5:45PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
New construction landscaping
I am looking for any suggestions for low maintenance...
Front yard design help
Looking to finally put some plants in the front yard....
Matt Johnston
Help with frontyard design changes
Hi, I’m in the process of replacing turf in my front...
On Site Calculations - Area
If you do construction as well as design, sooner or...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™