By Alyssa Gautieri
A new development is typically built in an open wooded area or park where excess water, such as rain and melted snow, naturally takes its course and soaks into the ground. Once a housing development is built—complete with buildings, parking lots, and roadways—water runoff must find a new place to escape. The water can no longer permeate the soil naturally, which means it may flood roadways, destroy buildings, or erode crops if proper drainage systems are not installed.
Other issues can occur when the drainage system becomes too old or stops working properly. While a drainage system may have worked fine in the past, a natural change downstream or construction nearby can impact the functionality of a drainage system. These issues may not be apparent at first, but over time as buildings and developments settle, water drainage issues may occur.
According to Charles Witczak, PE, PP, PLS of Witczak Engineering, an engineering firm in Toms River, New Jersey, common issues that occur in associations as a result of drainage problems include standing water, puddles, and flooding.
Standing water includes any body of stagnant water, such as puddles or ponds. Water supply lines that bust or leak can create sources of clean standing water, but rainwater can create additional sources. Sources of standing water look unappealing because of a lack of grass, and they can leave areas vulnerable to moss growth.
Whether made from rainwater or clean water, standing water can be both a nuisance and a hazard. These large puddles can create mosquito breeding grounds, while soggy lawns mean people and their pets are more likely to track mud into the house.
Standing water on sidewalks, roadways, or parking lots causes hazardous conditions for walkers and drivers. In cold weather, standing water can also lead to icy conditions. These hazardous conditions can cause injuries that may result in lawsuits.
Drainage issues can create a negative aesthetic throughout the association and serve as a nuisance, since certain areas may not be able to be used for intended purposes—such as common areas intended for recreation. More importantly, drainage issues can lead to structural damage and have a detrimental effect on a building’s foundation or a roadway.
When it comes to alleviating these issues, “preventive measures are the best way to go,” Witczak said. “It’s important for managers to get a handle early in the game to understand their drainage systems—such as whether there are one or multiple detention basins and where the pipe systems run. A periodic inspection performed by a professional engineer can identify potential problems before they take place. These can prevent emergency situations which can be dangerous and costly.”
A stormwater management system is put in place to reduce runoff of rainwater or melted snow into streets, lawns, and other areas. Most developments should have a storm drainage system, which consists of structures and underground pipes that carry rainwater to ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. It is important that community managers know where these pipes are