Ideas for drainage improvement around your property

May 3, 2018

A previous post dated 02 May, 2018 summarized five methods FEMA recommends to lower your flood insurance premium.  These are:

1. Relocate the home to a higher portion of the property (or build a levee around it)
2. Raise utilities and mechanical systems
3. Install flood openings in ground floor walls
4. Abandon and fill in basements with gravel
5. Elevate the entire structure

These solutions will certainly result in lower insurance premiums and decreased risk of flooding.  However, they are all complex and costly to implement.

If you are a property owner in a flood-prone area you may also want to consider some relatively simple, low-cost alternatives to reduce flooding risk. Start by reviewing how water moves from your property into nearby drainage features and beyond.  In many areas the streets and storm drains are designed to receive drainage from lots and rooftops.  Water may be stored in the streets temporarily during heavy rainfall before it moves downstream.  It is during this time that it may rise and enter homes and other structures.  Water may also be moving across the ground to your property from higher areas.  This is known as sheet flow and it can be a major cause of flooding damage.

With these in mind reduction of your flooding risk involves reducing impingement from sheet flow and facilitating local drainage.  Ideas to consider are:

  • Check condition of streets and storm drains

Storm drains need to be kept clear of debris.  Over time subsidence and tree root growth can interfere with drainage and cause local ponding.

  • Check condition of nearby drainage features

Canals and bayous can lose storing capacity and drainage speed if they fill with vegetation and debris.  Grates over openings can be clogged.

  • Add drainage trenches

Low spots on lots where water accumulates in ponds can be drained by trenches that connect to a lower elevation area.  This is an effective remedy for the common problem in residential areas where water accumulates behind houses due to ground subsidence or blockage of the overland flow out toward the street.

  • Replace hard surface driveways, sidewalks, and patios with permeable materials


Runoff can be decreased by allowing water to soak into the ground instead of flowing across concrete.

Readers, have you implemented or have considered implementing any of these ideas?  If so what has been your experience?