Addressing waterlogged properties


We have all heard the adage, “If something can go wrong, it will,” commonly referred to as Murphy’s Law. For agricultural producers and gardeners right now, the weather is going “wrong,” as the two-week weather forecast predicts rain and more rain.

While rain is usually a temporary inconvenience, keeping us from planting corn, soybeans, and vegetable gardens, understanding local soil conditions and drainage can help keep you and your property safe.

Did you know that just a half inch of rain falling on a 1,000-square-foot roof will yield 300 gallons of water or that an inch of rain over an acre totals 27,154 gallons of water? These facts illustrate why stormwater management is so important, no matter where you live.

When the rain comes down, the call volume at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District goes up. Fortunately, many of the drainage calls to which we respond are normal fluctuations in groundwater and drainage pathways. Recognizing the severity of a storm event (or series of storm events) and the condition of the drainage features in the vicinity can help you understand what you are seeing. We suggest asking yourself the following questions before you call us:

• Are your gutters and downspouts sized, installed, and draining correctly? A properly installed system should direct water away from your home’s foundation. For downspouts routed underground, try to determine where they outlet and make sure all connections are secure and intact.

• What is the grading on your property? Be sure that the ground slopes away from your foundation to prevent water from collecting against the basement walls. Improper grading can create low areas where water is trapped, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

• Where does your sump pump go? As with your gutters and downspouts, the sump pump should outlet at least four feet away from the foundation of your house.

• How much rain have you received? Heavy and repeated rains can saturate soils. Most often this saturation is of short duration, disappearing with the onset of sunny skies. However, it is possible for extreme events to exceed the rate and capacity limitations of even the best designed stormwater infrastructure.

• Where does your runoff go? This is important so that you avoid blocking the natural flow with landscaping, decks/patios, playground equipment, or outbuildings. It is also critical that runoff is not traveling over bare soil causing erosion of valuable topsoil. Your runoff should not cause problems with your neighbors nor should it empty onto the sidewalk or street where ice can form in freezing temperatures.

• Are there issues offsite that may be influencing your drainage? For example, retention ponds, culverts, road ditches, and streams may not be functioning as they should due to a obstruction or log jam. Most often these issues lie downstream of where problems are observed.

If after you have gone through the above bulleted items and still have drainage concerns, it may be time for a deeper investigation. Contact us through our website at or by calling 740-368-1921.

By Bonnie Dailey

Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District

Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to

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