By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog
Commentary: How many unpaid, volunteer homeowners know the first thing about maintaining proper storm drainage? For that matter, how many professional managers have specialized knowledge in civil engineering, traffic engineering, urban design, or hydrology?
Of course, the answer is, almost zero. Homeowners may unintentionally divert water flow by making changes to their gutters and downspouts, french drains, or placement of landscape. HOAs often fail to regularly inspect storm water components and likewise fall short on cleaning and maintaining them for optimal functionality.
And when ignorance leads to flooding and contamination from storm water runoff, it’s not just the HOA residents that are affected. Downstream property owners are affected, too. When that happens, the Association ends up paying dearly for damages, repairs, and legal liabilities.
For the past several decades, County and City governments have required private developers to construct roads and storm water systems, and then to hand off long-term management and maintenance of storm water drainage to private homeowners and condominium associations. The following is but one example of why this is very bad policy.
Wet ‘n Wild owner sues condo association, county
The owner of Wet ‘n Wild has sued a nearby condominium association and Orange County to stop drainage of stormwater into a manmade water body known as Sandy Lake.
Universal Studios Water Parks LLC sued The Enclave at Orlando Condominium Association and Orange County last week in Orange Circuit Court.
Universal says it owns nearly all of Sandy Lake, a manmade water body behind Wet ‘n Wild. According to the lawsuit, The Enclave owns property next to the lake.
The lawsuit says that without Universal’s knowledge or consent, the county and the Enclave have permitted developers and other private-property owners to drain stormwater into an easement that ultimately flows into the Sandy Lake property.
The lawsuit says this has “added pollutants to Sandy Lake which, if allowed to continue, threatens serious risk to human health as well as environmental hazards. Such unrestrained drainage will further inhibit UWP’s use of the UWP Sandy Lake Property and require expensive measures by UWP to clean Sandy Lake.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction stopping the activity and damages in excess of $15,000.
Wet ‘n Wild will shut down next year as Universal prepares to open Volcano Bay water park at its resort in 2017. Universal has not said what its plans are for the Wet ‘n Wild property.
Orange County and Universal declined to comment. The Enclave could not be reached for comment.