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Drainage FAQ

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What are some things that can be done to alleviate chronic or occasional soggy areas in my yard?

Depending on your landscape and intention, there are many ways to manage chronic or occasionally soggy areas in your yard. By redirecting downspouts or installing a French drain you may alleviate the situation, or you may need to install a simple drainage system that includes a yard inlet and drain pipe or a rain garden to improve the drainage. Each of these options should be carefully considered for the impacts they may have to sidewalks and/or neighboring properties. The answers to commonly asked questions below will help guide you through concerns and regulations associated with the various methods. 

Can stormwater from my roof gutter be directed to anywhere on my property?

Yes. It is your responsibility, however, to make sure the changes do not cause substantial damage to the property rights of others. 

Can I block the natural flow of water from an adjacent property onto my property?

No. According to North Carolina General Statutes 156: Drainage it is illegal to impede the natural flow of water. However, a property owner can divert or alter its path in a reasonable manner.

When is a French drain typically used?

A French drain is used in areas that are soggy for an extended time period or where water pools. A properly installed French drain collects surface water or groundwater and moves it to a location where it can drain effectively.  

What does the Town require prior to installing a French drain?

Outlet to StreetThere are no requirements unless the French drain system ties into the road right-of-way. 

Work in the road right-of-way requires a Minor Encroachment Agreement with the Town.

Can I alleviate a chronically wet yard or sidewalk by redirecting my storm drainage to the street right-of-way?

If you have no other viable alternative, yes, you can redirect storm drainage to the street right-of-way through a curb inlet in front of your property. A yard drain, French drain, and/or gutter outlet that connects to the Town’s storm drainage system in the right-of-way or directs water through the curb onto the street is required to have a Minor Encroachment Agreement submitted to the Inspections and Permits Department, along with a sketch plan for approval and permitting. The connection curb outlet must be constructed according to the Town's Standard Specifications and Details. In these instances, the Town requires connecting to a curb inlet box, if possible. Consider that discharges to the curb may cause hazards from excessive period of wet or ice patches.

The stream on my property is clogged with debris. Will the Town remove the debris?

No. Storm drainage features such as streams, swales, pipes and culverts on a homeowner’s property are the responsibility of the home owner as stated in the Certificate of Ownership and Dedication, required on all subdivision plats recorded in the Town of Cary. The Town only maintains drainage in the right-of-way.  

Can I build a retaining wall along the creek bank or install a pipe to relocate a creek on my property?

Yes. However, before construction starts, please contact the Senior Stormwater Engineering
Technician at (919) 460-4934 to help determine if there are local, state or federal regulations
that must be considered.  

When it rains, the stream on my property floods my yard.  Will the Town address this flooding?

No. However, we will conduct a site visit upon request and provide technical guidance. In the rare event that the flood causes damage to your house, you may be eligible for 50-50 cost share funds based on Policy Statement 35: Storm Drainage Improvements Requests.  

The streambank on my property is caving in.  What can I do to hold it in place?

If your streambank is edged with a natural buffer such as trees or shrubs, keep them in place. Do not cut back on the vegetative area or mow grass right up to the streambank. Get other ideas for reinforcing streambanks or find out if your project is eligible for a North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation cost share program.

My backyard is always wet and I cannot grow grass.  What can I do?

Determine the source of the water.  Is the water from stormwater runoff, a spring, or a high water table? Your solution will depend on the water source. Solutions may include installing a French drain or establishing a rain garden or wet-loving plants to absorb the water. 

Is it legal for me to drain my pool and discharge the water directly onto my yard or into a nearby stream?

Yes.  As long as the water is dechlorinated, it is legal for you to discharge it onto your yard or into a nearby stream. Consider the impact the volume of water may have on neighboring properties.

Is it legal to dump yard waste or debris down a storm drain or into a creek?

No. These actions violate the Town’s illegal discharge ordinance/NPDES Permits. Only rain and other allowable stormwater discharges may enter a storm drain or creek. If you see or suspect an illegal discharge, report it online or call (919) 469-4030.

Our community pond is an eyesore and safety hazard.  Who is responsible for maintaining it?

Since ponds are typically installed by the builder as a stormwater control measure to improve stormwater runoff quality, your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is responsible for maintaining it according to its operations and maintenance manual. To determine whether it is a stormwater control measure, contact your HOA or call the Town’s Stormwater Program Analyst at (919) 469-4030 to review pond records or schedule an inspection.

Why does the Town of Cary allow developers to build lots where there’s upstream runoff?

The Town of Cary does not regulate lot drainage beyond building codes.

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