Rise in complaints about flooding, water issues leads CBS4 to look into options for homeowners

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INDIANAPOLIS — We all expect spring showers, but for some homeowners a rainstorm can cause major issues that become difficult to fix.

The CBS4 Problem Solvers team noticed more calls from people asking for help with flooding or water-related concerns on their properties. Those homeowners described similar difficulties in finding anyone who could help with their concerns.

Bob Preston and his neighbors on the near southeast side have spent years calling the city, requesting a fix to flooding on Wade Street. Preston thought a water main replacement in 2015 would help, but he said it actually made the problem worse.

“We call it Lake Wade,” Preston said. “You just get the runaround. They keep saying, ‘Oh, call this, call this,’ and nothing gets done.”

Fifteen miles away, on the north side, Rebecca Marcus showed CBS4 a much different water problem. Marcus lives along a creek and a recent storm caused a large log jam behind her property.

“It has blocked a good deal of the creek,” Marcus said. “People were nice, they got back with me … but (they said), ‘It’s not our responsibility.'”

CBS4 found out that the first step for a homeowner like Marcus or Preston is to figure out the source of the problem. If it’s happening in the right of way, like Preston’s issue in the street, you need to request repairs from your city or local government.

Drainage issues on private property are the responsibility of the homeowner, which means Marcus will likely need to coordinate with adjoining property owners to deal with the log jam.

John Hazlett, district manager at the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District, said many homeowners have no idea that they are responsible for drainage issues that cause flooding.

“We get a lot of folks who are upset and frustrated,” Hazlett said.

In recent years, Hazlett’s team has also seen a rise in complaints, which he attributed to Indiana’s warmer and wetter winters. Hazlett noted that about a third of all calls involve erosion, which is contributing to the issues behind Marcus’ property.

Every county in the state has a soil and water conservation district. Homeowners should first contact their local water company and local government, then go to the district for help with unwanted water or flooding.

“We will write up a report for them that describes what we suggest they do. We do not have any funding to help implement our recommendations, which is a huge challenge,” Hazlett said.

Hazlett hoped more grants and funding would be allocated to help property owners deal with drainage and erosion in the coming years.

Marcus’ best option will likely be to work with Hazlett’s team and her neighbors.

On Wade Street, Preston and his neighbors remain at the mercy of the city. CBS4 confirmed with the Indianapolis Department of Public Works that the street is rated “mid-high priority,” but that funding has not been allocated to fix it.

To find your county’s soil and water conservation district, go to the link here.

For more information about drainage issues and what to do about them, visit the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District’s informational page at the link here.

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