Drainage problem, advice. Long post, heavy pics.
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    JustinHEMI's Avatar
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    Drainage problem, advice. Long post, heavy pics.

    Hello friends,

    I have a section of my yard that doesn't drain very well, or at all. In the following pictures, I will try to show what I'm seeing. First, an overhead shot of my property, "me" is what I currently own with a house on 1 acre. I'm in the process of picking up the other acreage around me. At the back of my property is a small creek and between my yard and the creek, there's about 30 feet of swamp. This is similar on the 2 lots to either side of me as well. This past winter, I was able to go back there and see that it just appears no one ever graded/correct that area. Previous owner used a depression as a dumping ground for things like Christmas trees.

    Also, on the lot to my right, shown by the blue line, is continually running drainage that goes under the road, and to the creek. The problem is that the pipe under the road can't handle the water during a heavy rain, and therefore it floods the road, and a lot of the water makes its way down my driveway.

    I'm pretty sure that's a big part of my problem, and I'm trying to get the state to come fix it. Not just because of it flooding my property, but because it's about 6" of water on the road and it's already sent someone into a telephone pole.

    Around that drainage going through the other lot, it's pretty swampy because it just doesn't drain that well. No one maintains it. One of my goals is to begin maintaining it and working to drain these swamps.





    All of that said, even after the rain, a portion of my yard remains saturated. Here's some pictures to try to explain what I'm seeing.



    The entire area to the treeline, and beyond, is soaked. I can't mow it, even a few days after the rain, because my tractor just turns it to mud.






    Just another shot of the same area. There is definitely a depression where most of the water collects, so I suspect that part of my solution will require regrading. I'm just not sure if the depression is a symptom, or the problem. It could be that all the water that comes from the road drainage caused the depression, but it could also be that the road water goes there because the depression is the lowest spot in the area.






    This is just a better shot to show the uncut area vs cut area. It's literally that defined of a boundary. Step onto the uncut area, it's sopping wet. Cut area, perfectly dry.





    Standing water that was flowing during yesterday's rain.





    This is looking up towards the road. You can see where water flows sometimes.





    One thing all of this rain uncovered, but you can't really see here, is a pipe that discharges about halfway into the yard. In the previous picture, it appears this pipe goes off in that direction. I'm not sure what this pipe is draining. The driveway? The yard? Perhaps this pipe is part of the problem. It may have been part of a drainage plan but has since clogged or collapsed.

    I'm having my driveway paved soon, and I'm hoping it reveals where the pipe goes.





    These next two pictures show the ground above where it appears the pipe goes, which leads me to believe that perhaps there's a failed drain here.









    Just another view of the cut vs uncut, or wet vs dry areas, with a depression right about where the boundary is. It's also looking back to the swampy area near the creek.





    And again, trying to show the depression, it's hard to make out but it starts in about the middle of the photo in the bottom 1/4 of the photo.






    So my questions are;

    1) Any tips on where to start to solve my drainage issue?
    2) Any tips on how to identify where that pipe goes and what it does?
    3) Any tips on draining the swamps around the creek?


    This would be the first time that I try to tackle something like this, and I would like to give it a go own my own. This sort of thing is why I bought a tractor. I'm not concerned with screwing it up, it's just a small part of yard and I don't think I can do any permanent damage to it.

    I think a large part of solving my problem would be to get the state to fix their drainage, but barring that, I'm going to have to try to manage it on my own. When I start clearing the lot with the drainage on it, I hope to be able to improve it using my backhoe and what not.

    Thanks so much for your time.

    Justin
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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    Good explaination and pics!

    My first inclination is to find where that pipe leads. I am guessing that most of your water is coming from there. Have you watched how much water comes out of it during a good rainfall?

    Second issue is where the pipe ends - the water has no place to go but to sit in that area of the yard.

    So first thing I would do is find where that pipe originates. It could very well be a drain from around your foundation which is very important (and or rain gutter drain). After that you will to either extend the pipe into the woods to where the water can settle out or dig a swale into that area to let the water drain into the woods.

    Is it a state road you are on? If so PennDOT may or may not be if any help. It is very unlikely that a road culvert is extended that far from the road unless a previous owner installed it.
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    IndianaJim's Avatar
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    Around here, and drainage thats not a mapped drainage ditch, that taxes are paid on, is the land owners responsibility. Basically, from my conversation with our county about drainage on my property and my neighbors, the county doesnt generally put ditches that they maintain on private property.
    You can put one in yourself, and tie into theirs with permission/permits/etc, but if its your property, its your problem.

    You probably wont need nearly as big a drain/ditch as you think to divert/drain that water off.
    The first thing though, like stated above, is figure out what that current drain you see goes to. That might be difficult, but you may be able to use a dye to find out. Different colors for different areas. See what ends up coming out.

    Second, figure out EXACTLY where you want that water to go, and if it can actually go there. You mentioned swap around a creek. Hard to picture, but I assume the creek has always been there, the swamp was created by the previous landowner not keeping up with the property. If thats the case, it might be a LOT of work to remedy. It can be done, but will take a lot of work. You will most likely want to drain it into that creek, and accomplishing that, if its close, shouldnt be too hard to do. A simple swale, or surface ditch would probably work.
    You may want to take care of this before the other issues, as any issue corrected by the house and lawn will most likely end up putting more water in the swamp area for you to deal with later and make it that much harder to work in and around.

    Third, proper grading takes care of a lot of wet ground/standing water issues. Its not all that easy to accomplish for some, but once your 1025R shows up, you should be able to get most anything done you need to.

    Once your grading is done, you could add a surface ditch at the roadside and divert that water anywhere you want, likely to the creek if it were me. A gentle swale coming from there running back to the creek, or to a graded area sloped toward the creek would work.

    Seems like you have your work cut out for you no matter which way you go!
    Be sure to keep us posted on this!
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    JustinHEMI's Avatar
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    Thank you for the tips, gents!

    I'm going to start with figuring out the pipe, then deciding where to drain it. It might be part of a bigger "drain the swamp" project. I think I really need to get into the other lot and start managing the drainage from the road culvert, and that will help solve a lot of problems. Then I can extend that pipe to the creek. I did another look today, and it could possible be where my gutters are going. I'm kind of surprised to see them send it that far from the house.

    I also was able to find the property maps on the county website, and it appears to me that at one time, where the pipe drains wasn't actually "yard". So when they put the drain in, it was in a good spot if it was just going towards the drainage ditch on the next lot. However, when they expanded the yard, they didn't account for that.

    My driveway paver is also going to help get my driveway draining in the direction I want, so that ultimately, I am in control of all the drainage.

    I can't wait to get started. I'm sure I'll make a lot of mistakes along the way, but how else do you learn?
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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    Good explaination and pics!

    My first inclination is to find where that pipe leads. I am guessing that most of your water is coming from there. Have you watched how much water comes out of it during a good rainfall?

    Second issue is where the pipe ends - the water has no place to go but to sit in that area of the yard.

    So first thing I would do is find where that pipe originates. It could very well be a drain from around your foundation which is very important (and or rain gutter drain). After that you will to either extend the pipe into the woods to where the water can settle out or dig a swale into that area to let the water drain into the woods.

    Is it a state road you are on? If so PennDOT may or may not be if any help. It is very unlikely that a road culvert is extended that far from the road unless a previous owner installed it.

    Oh and yes, it is a state road, and I have called PennDOT multiple times. I know they won't help me with the drainage on the land, but a big part of the problem is that their culvert is partially collapsed and 3/4 plugged. The last time I talk to them I said "I have a backhoe coming, and if you don't fix the culvert, I'm going to dig it out then you replace it." They chuckled but seriously, I'm going to work my way up to it then try to unplug it myself if they don't do anything about it.

    It's a real safety hazard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinHEMI View Post
    I'm sure I'll make a lot of mistakes along the way, but how else do you learn?
    Nothing wrong with mistakes! Im not sure how you learn otherwise.
    Sure you can read about things and get advice, but when it comes time for the dirt to start flying, all bets are off.
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    Sounds like you have a good plan going forward.

    As far as PennDOT (ex operator speaking) if you donít get any cooperation at the county level itís time to go to the district level. There are people at the district who can possibly help.

    Regional Offices
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    JustinHEMI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    Sounds like you have a good plan going forward.

    As far as PennDOT (ex operator speaking) if you donít get any cooperation at the county level itís time to go to the district level. There are people at the district who can possibly help.

    Regional Offices

    Thanks for that insight!
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    JustinHEMI's Avatar
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    Hahaha wow, so I found my district's engineering number, decided to call it assuming I would get a voicemail box that I could leave a message on, but lo and behold, someone answered, and took down the info and said they'd hook up with me to see what the problem is!!!

    This forum has been fantastic for the few days I've been on it.
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    Thatís great! Just be have a good attitude with them - not demanding - and stress any safety issues of the roadway itself.

    All our roads - especially rural secondary roads like ours - have plenty of continuing issues. There just isnít the money allotted for the counties to keep up with it all - most of it goes to the urban areas. So what I am saying is try not to blame the county people.
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