Stormwater damage is an ongoing problem in Atlanta and in many neighborhoods. Many times, the infrastructure has been poorly maintained, pipes are undersized, and neighborhoods are left with problems that are difficult and expensive to solve by homeowners. Most municipalities expect private homeowners to repair pipes and storm drainage systems that serve hundreds of homes and properties upstream just because a large drainage pipe crosses their property.
After every rain, I receive calls from homeowners that have been damaged by stormwater runoff. Their yards are flooded, the landscaping is damaged, and water seeps into their basements. The thought of rain brings tears to their eyes. Many homeowners have been flooded so many times that just the thought of rain and the sound of thunder upsets them. They do not know what to do or who to turn to.
I make site inspections of water-damaged properties and evaluate stormwater problems. I determine the best and most cost-effective solutions to their stormwater damage. Often, the solution to the problem is not apparent and too often expensive to fix. No homeowner has money set aside for these types of issues.
We all know that water runs downhill.
But when homeowners are looking for a home to buy, stormwater is not the prevalent thing on their minds. It is the neighborhood of the home, the kitchen, and the master bedroom that are of most concern.
As one homeowner said to me, "I never considered the drainage in the yard. It never crossed my mind that yard water may be a problem. My mind was on what curtains I would need and the color of paint for the kid's rooms."
This is typical.
If I could give one piece of advice to families looking for homes, it would be to have the property inspected for stormwater problems.
If the house you are about to make an offer on, is near the bottom of the hill, BEWARE. Take extra precaution and thoroughly check how stormwater impacts the property.
Ask the previous homeowner if they have ever had water problems. Sellers are required to disclose stormwater drainage problems.
If you decide to hire a drainage contractor to regrade your yard, have a drainage engineer prepare a plan to safely redirect the water to a proper discharge location. Be aware of how your redirected runoff will impact the downstream neighbor’s property.
A common drainage problem occurs when a contractor regrades property and redirects the flow of water onto the downstream neighbor's property.
An example occurred recently. Two ladies in metro Atlanta lived side by side for years. They were exceptionally good neighbors and looked out for the other.
The upstream neighbor hired a contractor to re-grade her yard and haul-in topsoil. He also built a short wall near the property line. This improved the flow of water in her yard. She was happy with his work. It looked good.
Then, it rained, and the rainwater inundated the downstream neighbor’s property. The contractor refused to take responsibility for the stormwater damage and refused to help. He took the position that he was just doing what the homeowner asked him to do.
The ladies became bitter enemies and fought in court for years.
Civil engineers are trained and experienced in stormwater damage issues. Seek the advice of a professional to help you design a solution that is safe for all involved.
Specialized drainage professionals are certified by the American Institute of Hydrology (AIH). The AIH tests and certifies qualified engineers that extensive experience and training in hydrology, stormwater damage issues, and water quality problems.
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