Drainage and Ditch Maintanence

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Drainage and Ditch Maintenance

Ditches are constructed to drain water from the land, especially during or immediately after times of heavy rain or melting snow.  Drainage is very important for agriculture in this watershed and the soils indicate the need for drainage.  In the Darby watershed, 76.2% are rated very poorly drained, poorly drained or somewhat poorly drained.  61.3% of soils are classified as being hydric soils.  Soils classified as "prime if drained" account for 72.0% of all soils.  

The Drainage Maintenance Program is a cooperative effort between the County Engineer, the Soil & Water Conservation District, and the County Commissioners.  Ultimately the County Commissioners are responsible for the maintenance and assessments for the county maintained ditches.  There are currently 41.2 miles of county maintained ditches in the Darby Watershed.  There are two different petition processes in Ohio.  Both are authorized by the Ohio Revised Code(ORC) either ORC 1515 or ORC 6131.  Please contact your local county engineer or Soil and Water Conservation District for more information concerning your county's ditch maintenance program.

Not sure if a ditch near you is under maintenance? Please use the ditch maintenance contacts listed below.

Frequently Asked Questions about Drainage?

  1.  What is tile or field tile?
  2. What is the difference between agricultural field tile and a storm sewer?
  3. Who constructed the ditches?
  4. Who pays to install a ditch?
  5. What can I do if I have a non-functioning ditch on or affecting my property?
  6. Why is it the landowners' responsibility to pay for drainage maintenance?
  7. What are typical drainage maintenance activities?
  8. What are drainage easements?
  9. Can anything be planted or built within the easement area?

(These frequently asked questions are based on the frequently asked drainage question sections on the Miami County Engineer's and the Delaware SWCD websites)

  1. What is a tile or field tile?
    A tile is a pipe that is underground that is used to convey water.  Tile drainage was first introduced in the United States in 1838.  Tiles were installed in order to lower the water table on agricultural land.

  2. What is the difference between agricultural field tile and a storm sewer?
    The main difference is their application and size.  Field tiles are designed to drain cropland and facilitate crop production.  Field tile is typically sized to drain 3/8" of water per acre per day from the ground.  Storm sewers are designed to transport storm water (rain water) immediately from the ground surface to the receiving stream, creek or ditch.  In a agricultural field tile system, ponding water is expected to dry up in a few days as the water infiltrates into the tiles.  Storm sewers, however have open inlets to allow water directly into the storm sewer system.  Storm sewers pipes must typically be ten or more times larger than field tile.

  3. Who constructed the ditches?
    Many of the tile systems were installed independently by farmers, or a group of farmers to drain their adjacent cropland.  Some of these tile systems only drain a few acres while other drain a 1000 acres or more.  Other ditches, especially those with a large drainage area which involved many farmers, the farmers would file a County Ditch petition with the County Engineer or Soil and Water Conservation District.  If the County accepted the project, property owners were assessed for both construction and maintenance cost associated with their new "County Ditch" or "County Tile".

  4. Who pays to install a ditch?
    In all cases, the property owners who are benefited by ditch are the ones who pay for it.  In the case of a cooperative agreement between adjacent property owners, the owners pay the contractor directly.  For a County Ditch, the county pays the contractor and assesses all costs, including engineering and administrative costs, back to the benefited property owners through a special assessment on their property taxes.

  5. What can I do if I have a non-functioning ditch on or affecting my property?
    If the ditch was not originally installed through the County's petition process, you can:

    1. Fix the problem or hire someone to fix the problem yourself

    2. Work with adjacent property owners or hire someone to fix the problem

    3. File a Ditch petition with your county engineer or local SWCD office.

    If the ditch was installed through the County petition process after August 23, 1957, a maintenance fund is in place for  this ditch.  There is a special assessment on your property taxes for maintenance and repair of this ditch.  Please contact your local ditch maintenance person for further assistance.

  6. Why is it the landowners' responsibility to pay for drainage maintenance?
    Under state law, all the land that drains into a ditch or project on a maintenance program is required to share the maintenance costs associated with that ditch or project.  The drainage maintenance assessment can be compared to insurance.  Maintenance will keep drainage systems functioning at their designed level, and, should a failure occur, repairs can be made.
  7. What are typical drainage maintenance activities?
    Annual inspections (minimum), minor to major structural repairs, outlet replacement when needed, erosion control, and logjam/obstruction removal
  8. What are drainage easements?
    A drainage easement is an area of a property that is reserved for maintenance activities only.  The size of the easement will depend on the drainage structure and is set by the County Engineer.
  9. Can anything be planted or built within the easement area?
    It depends. It is always okay to plant grass in an easement area.  No man-made objects such as fencing, buildings, sheds or landscaping should ever be placed in an easement area.  Planting trees in an easement area should also be avoided.  If objects are placed in an easement area, they can be removed at the landowners cost and not be replaced.

Other Web Resources

  1. Ohio Drainage Laws- An Overview
  2. Where the water flows
  3. Agricultural Water Table Management Systems
  4. Agricultural Drainage- Ohio Field Studies
  5. Agricultural Drainage
  6. Understanding Agricultural Drainage

Water Resources by County

  1. Water Resources of Champaign County
  2. Water Resources of Franklin County
  3. Logan County Water Resources
  4. Water Resources of Madison County
  5. Pickaway County Water Resources
  6. Union County Water Resources

Local Ditch Maintenance Contacts

Champaign County Engineer's Office:

Fereidoun Shokouhi
Champaign County Engineer
428 Beech Street
Urbana, OH 43078

Phone: (937)653-4848

Web page: http://engineer.co.champaign.oh.us/

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Franklin County Engineer's Office:

Dean Ringle
Franklin County Engineer

970 Dublin Road

Columbus, OH 43215-1184
Phone: (614)462-3359
Web page: http://www.fceo.co.franklin.oh.us/
Email: Franklin County Engineer's Office

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Logan County Engineer:

Scott Coleman
Logan County Engineer
1991 County Road 13, P.O. Box 427
Bellefontaine, OH 43311
Phone: (937)592-2791
Web page: http://co.logan.oh.us/engineer/
Email: Logan County Engineer's Office

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Madison County Engineer:

David Brand- Madison County Engineer
Dale Hostetler- Ditch Maintenance Supervisor
825 US 42 NE
London, OH 43140
Phone: (740)852-9404
Phone: Dale Hostetler Cell: (614)546-8932 (Cell)
Web page: http://www.co.madison.oh.us/415/index.html
Email: Dale Hostetler

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Pickaway Soil and Water Conservation District(SWCD):

Lloyd (Mack) McManus
Pickaway SWCD
110 Island Rd., Suite D
Circleville, OH 43113
Phone: (740)477- 3327
Web page: http://www.pickawayswcd.org/ditch.html
Email: Mack McManus

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Union Soil and Water Conservation District(SWCD):

Bob Scheiderer- Ditch Maintenance Supervisor
Union SWCD
18000 State Route 4, Suite B
Marysville, OH 43040
Phone: (937)642-5871
Web page: Ditch Maintenance page- Union SWCD
Email: Bob Scheiderer

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All information found on this website is for informational purposes only by the Darby Joint Board of Supervisors. All text, images, logos and information contained on this website are property of the Joint Board and they may not be used or reproduced without permission of the Joint Board. 
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Last updated: April 7, 2009.