Solving a runoff problem? Watch where you send that water

As the old saying goes, “Water knows no mercy.” We'd add to that, “And neither does your flooded downslope neighbor.”

Some of the toughest calls we get involve questions about water runoff. They're difficult because we can't provide legal advice or speculate on coverage for claims that haven't been filed.

Purposely changing the path of water runoff is different than doing nothing and letting the water go where it will. Once a landowner makes changes to affect runoff, he or she may become responsible for the results, including damage it may cause to others.

Our best advice: Make sure water projects follow building codes – for example, properly directing outflow from downspouts to a dry well or street storm drains. If possible, solve runoff problems by keeping the water on your own property (terracing, planting grass or groundcovers to minimize erosion, opting for gravel rather than paved driveways, etc.). Or, if you can't, talk with neighbors about a cooperative solution.