Questions about a Dry Well

mocharomanDecember 22, 2009

I live above a psychotic neighbor. We shared pipes underground that the builder installed to move surface water as well as down spouts from the gutters. We get a ton of water through my yard when it rains. So she hired some guy with a truck to "fix" her problem. He removed the pipe the builder installed and put us on a shared 8" pipe for our yard water. I now am restricted from getting surface water into her yard. She built up a moat for half of the backyard and the one entry point is now blocked by sandbags. The new drain her contractor installed isn't moving water like the old ones. The pipe goes 75' across her yard to empty and when it rains water her drain cannot handle the flow and water is pushed UPHILL!!! This happens during every rain of 1/2". I am able to access the end of the pipe and there is little to no pressure coming out during a large storm. The neighbor is out of her mind so I don't think I have a chance at her fixing anything.

I have been working with a Landscape Architect (who already helped with the burm/proper grading) who thinks we should create a dry well in my yard to handle all the water coming through and disconnect from her crazy system and then potentially build a burm that once water gets to her from the back of my yard it can't come back up to me through her overflowing drain.

I feel that I am in good hands, but still want some input from others who are experts in this area. In the real world how well do dry wells work? How often do they overflow and/or no longer accept water? I realize it will need to be sized properly and going to talk to a civil engineer next. Are there any other negatives I should know about with a dry well?

Link below to photos to show water issues during a recent rain.

Thanks for any suggestions or input.

Here is a link that might be useful: My photos

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First off, fire your Landscape Architect. Anyone who would suggest a dry well for this situation doesn't have a clue.

Next, familiarize yourself with basic North Carolina law on surface drainage. North Carolina follows a modification of the Civil Law of Drainage; the Reasonable Use Rule, with the landmark case being Pendergrast v. Aiken.

The following links may be helpful:

For professional help, select a Professional Engineer or Surveyor who has experience in drainage. Give much consideration to one who has court experience as a expert witness on drainage. Not many of them will have knowledge of drainage law, and in your case this is important. These people don't come cheap. If you cannot afford them, the process for a DIY fix or action against your neighbor begins with the development of an accurate base map of the properties.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 11:50AM
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Thanks. I prefer not to go through legal channels as crazy people will fight to the end. If possible, I want to do whatever I can to alleviate the issue in my own yard as that may be better $ spent. My fiance is a lawyer and doesn't trust a judge to make the right decision at all.

I will contact another landscape architect I worked with to see what they might say. I also have the county storm water ppl coming out next week to see what they might recommend.

Can you explain what an accurate base map of the property means? Is that something I can do on my own?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 12:28PM
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mocharoman said:

Can you explain what an accurate base map of the property means? Is that something I can do on my own?

A base map or site plan is a plan view drawing showing all the features of the property similar to the one below. Since you are dealing with a drainage problem, your drawing will need the addition of elevation data. It does not have to be pretty, but does need to be a scaled drawing. You can do it yourself with help from this forum, but it does require a substantial amount of work.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 1:11PM
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Looks like you are in luck. Durham has a good online GIS that would provide a good start. The graphic below is an example from the online GIS. Note the property boundary, features, and elevation contours.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 1:48PM
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I looked up my property online. It's pretty neat how easy it is to get. Next Wednesday I have the County Storm Water ppl and a Civil Engineer coming out together to come up with ideas. Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 5:07PM
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Someone who asks for good advice, gets it, and acts on it. Mocharoman (I'm vianillaroman, my middle name), you have no idea how unusual it is that someone listens to good advice on these forums. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 8:06PM
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