Water Woes: HOA storm water, flood, erosion headaches

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Since the 1970s, local governments have allowed – usually required – private developers to incorporate storm water control systems into newly constructed subdivisions of all types and sizes.

Ongoing maintenance of retention ponds, drainage basins and swales, canals, weirs, dams, culverts, and related infrastructure has been assigned to private homeowners associations.

For municipalities and counties, privatizing storm water management saved money by shifting cost burdens from taxpayers at large to each individual community. At the time, this misguided policy seemed to make perfect fiscal sense.

But after decades of allowing for-profit developers to drive storm water system design decisions, with an eye toward keeping construction costs as low as possible, millions of homeowners in the U.S. now find themselves burdened with expensive repairs due to repeated flooding, erosion, sinkholes, and washed out roads.

Lacking a comprehensive water management plan, most municipal and county governments have enabled decades of piecemeal construction of storm water infrastructure that fails to consider cumulative effects of drainage volume from neighboring subdivisions.

Reports of property damage and neighbor disputes involving ineffective storm water management have become as common as reports of corruption in association-governed common interest communities. So I have decided to group several reports in a single post – a new kind of “Roundup” report.

Collectively, these reports document the need to de-privatize storm water management in order spread out the administrative cost burden and to best serve the public interest.


Land O’Lakes residents seeing backyards erode away
HOA suing Pasco County over canal fix

Erik Waxler
6:47 PM, Jul 21, 2017
6:48 PM, Jul 21, 2017

WFTS ABC Action News (Tampa, FL)

Jeff Cole comes out to check on his backyard just about every day.

And his anxiety is up since a sinkhole destroyed two homes just three miles from here.

“When I purchased the home I had no idea that this was an issue,” he said.

The problem in the Plantation Palms subdivision is not a sinkhole, but erosion eating away at the land behind a group of homes along a canal.

It’s about a 30 foot drop down.

In recent years, there have been attempts to stop the erosion.

But land continues to sink, taking trees and even a deck with it.

Read more (Video):


Florida is surrounded by water, yet developers have been building communities on and near wetlands for decades. And during the long rainy season, that water has to go somewhere. In this Pasco County subdivision, simple canals have been excavated behind lots of privately owned homes. However, homeowners are concerned because their back yards are eroding away, literally sinking into the canal. The HOA is suing the County over this issue. So much for saving tax dollars by privatizing storm water management. 


Remedy sought for stormwater issue in Macedonia’s Preserves subdivision
Mayor says other stormwater woes being addressed

By KEN LAHMERS Reporter Published: July 28, 2017 3:01 PM

My Town NEO (Ohio)

MACEDONIA — City officials and homeowners hope a stormwater issue in the Preserves at Valley View off Valley View Road will be remedied in the near future.

Martin Flask, who represents the subdivision’s homeowners association, emailed Mayor Joseph Migliorini after a July 22 heavy rain caused an avalanche of silt to pour out of an adjacent new subdivision’s retention pond into the Preserves’ storm sewers, streets and lake, claiming the new development “is causing irreparable harm” to the residents of the Preserves.

The flooding situation brought about a half-dozen Preserves residents to City Council’s July 27 meeting to ask the city to take action to prevent future damage.

Migliorini explained after the city engineer surveyed the site on July 24, it was determined some breaches of the new development’s silt fences had occurred.

“We are trying to remedy the situation,” said Migliorini. “We have contacted the developer [Petros Development Corp.] and asked that the problem be corrected.

Miglirini noted the city has a lot of stormwater problems, and is working diligently to correct them by rebuilding retention basins and repairing and replacing crossover pipes.

“In fact, we started addressing these issues back in the 1980s, before many other communities did,” he said.

Councilwoman Janet Tulley said the city’s stormwater plan was put into effect many years ago. She noted since there has been a lot of development in recent years, a review of the plan might be in order.

Read more:


Residents of a downhill neighborhood are putting pressure on Macedonia city officials to address a persistent problem: uphill new development is dumping water and silt into their retention ponds, and the HOA must now pay tens of thousands of dollars for dredging. Homeowners want the developer to pay for the damage, but city officials seem reluctant to take definitive action. 

The city recognizes it has an outdated stormwater plan, and is slowly rebuilding its own infrastructure, but that does not address privately owned and managed systems.


Buckeye Lake-area residents seek storm water solutions

By Mary Beth Lane
The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

Posted Aug 13, 2017 at 5:00 AM
Updated Aug 13, 2017 at 11:50 AM

MILLERSPORT — Plans are advancing to help Buckeye Lake-region residents and farmers find a new path to drain storm water and prevent flooding now that the state says it will forbid pumping the overflow through or over the new dam that is under construction.

The new drainage path that is emerging will be expensive. State Rep. Tim Schaffer, a Lancaster Republican, has included $500,000 in the state budget that took effect July 1 to help pay for drainage projects.

The issue has emerged as a consequence of the estimated $110 million project to build a new dam, scheduled for completion next year. It will replace the nearly 200-year-old earthen dam that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found was at significant risk of failure because of defects that included drainpipes penetrating the dam embankment.

Local officials have been working to develop new drainage routes since the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced that property owners along the 4.1-mile dam won’t be allowed to discharge storm water through or over it. It’s a risk-reduction measure, a department official said in a March letter to residents. The department also said it will heed the Army Corps’ recommendation to permanently cap unauthorized drainage pipes.

Read more:


For many years hundreds of property owners have been draining storm water into a nearby lake. But now that the 200-year old dam is being reconstructed, Army Corp of Engineers advises rerouting water runoff from HOA neighborhoods and a nearby farm. The recommended rerouting system will be costly, and, while the County intends to share in the cost, private owners will bear the brunt of the expense. 

Flooding drives residents from Glendale apartments

Posted: Aug 13, 2017 12:29 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 13, 2017 8:40 PM EDT
By Catherine Holland
Flooding sparked by rain Saturday night and Sunday morning forced dozens of people out of their homes at a Glendale condo complex.

It was about 3 a.m. Sunday when the Arizona chapter of the American Red Cross got a call from the Glendale Fire Department regarding “widespread flooding” at the Glen Condos at Maryland and 63rd avenues.

According to Red Cross spokesman Colin Williams, about 25 people from eight units are displaced. Those units are split-level.

“So, they’re essentially below grade; you have to take some stairs to access that,” Williams explained. “There’s just a lot of standing water in those patio areas so the entire units are flooded.”

Read more (video):


An example of flooding caused by storm water pooling into low-lying areas. Apartment and condo buildings that sit at the bottom of the hill, especially on-grade or below-grade units, are at prime risk for flooding, even in normally dry Arizona. 

In this case condo owners face future repair costs, while their tenants are left to cope with property damage.


Coping with a Condemned Condo in Canal Woods

Posted: 10/04/2017 19:16:00 -04:00
Updated: Oct 06, 2017 5:21 PM EDT
By Brooke Reese

WBOC Channel 16

SALISBURY, Md.- A couple was moving in together and after searching for the perfect place, they found it in Canal Woods.

Bruno Berchieri and Hunter Owens said the condominium complex felt like home. Until 10 days after moving in, it flooded. A storm in August left the couple sleeping on a floor surrounded by unpacked boxes.

“I don’t think we enjoyed the apartment for a week before it all happened,” Berchieri said.

For the last two months the pair has been living in Owens’ mothers’ home, waiting for answers on when they can move back into their condo.

“Obviously if the carpet is already wet we can’t get the furniture out, we can’t save the bed. We actually, we were just buying a new mattress,” Owens said.

The flooding from August condemned three first-floor units in the complex. The Home Owner’s Association said 11 units were affected in September 2016 by a similar flooding.

The HOA said it would be six weeks before the flood repairs would be completed. Long & Foster Real Estate manages the condominiums and provided this statement on Thursday.

Read more (Video):


Here’s a condo association in Maryland that has a history of repeated flooding of ground floor units. The city of Salisbury has condemned three of the eleven units, displacing residents. Condo owners are losing rental income, and tenants have to find alternate housing. 

Strabane Manor residents concerned about storm drainage system

By Katie Anderson
October 12, 2017

Observer-Reporter (Washington County, PA)

Residents of Strabane Manor Townhomes rallied at the South Strabane Township meeting Tuesday to express concerns about sharing their stormwater drainage system with another homeowners association, Strabane Haven.

The residents in the development of townhouses that sits just off of Fischer Road said they were not aware sharing a drainage system was part of the four-phase plan provided by the developer and builder of both neighborhoods, Maronda Homes and Dan Ryan Builders.

“They are not contributing to the success of this community,” said one Arrowhead Drive resident, Bill Karnes.

Brandon Stanick, the township manager, said the drainage system, including a detention pond, was put in by the developer as part of Strabane Manor, which was completed as phase two of the overall project several years ago.

Read more:


In this multi-phase development, according to an approved development plan, existing homeowners are expected to absorb water volume from new homes being constructed uphill. 

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