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  • Drainage Complaints

    Upon receipt of a Drainage Complaint from the public, the nature of the complaint is determined and it is then distributed to the appropriate Division for investigation.  The investigator will determine whether or not the complaint constitutes a violation of the Ordinance and if so, initiate a process designed to eliminate the violation. Examples of common complaints the District investigates include:

    • alteration of regulatory washes, including installation of culverts without a permit
    • diversion or potential diversion of floodwaters from one property to another
    • development within a regulatory floodplain, erosion hazard area or regulated riparian habitat without a permit
    • lack of vehicular access on roadways
    • maintenance needs on drainage infrastructure that is not associated with public roadways

    Some common questions about Drainage Complaints are addressed in a Drainage Complaint Frequently Asked Questions document.

    The Districts authority is limited by law to certain minimum standards, below which drainage problems are the responsibility of individual property owners. For example, the District only regulates washes that have a base flood peak discharge of 100 cubic feet per second or greater. The District's authority is also limited to regulatory floodplains, as defined by the Floodplain Managment Ordinance (Ordinance).  

    The District is restricted by law from maintaining washes on private property, constructing or maintaining improvements on private property, or from constructing improvements on County property that might adversely impact private property.  Drainage improvements on private property are the responsibility of the property owners and all applicable codes and regulations must be followed for the construction and maintenance of those improvements, including obtaining all necessary permits.

    The District does not have the authority to regulate water coming off of a neighbors roof or minor diversions of flow. In addition, the District does not enforce nuisance or de minimis activities. Nuisance/de minimis diversions may be those that occur in large floodprone areas such as sheet flooding areas.  In these areas, even minor grading activities such as for private roads or driveways have the potential to divert flows.  As such, the general mechanism to minimize damage to structures from flood hazards includes providing adequate minimum elevation, establishing minimum construction standards, and setting structures back from low flow channels.

    A significant percentage of flood damage occurs from non-regulatory flows, or nuisance drainage. If you are impacted by such flooding and you believe the flooding was caused by a neighbor, the District recommends approaching the neighbor in question, calmly explaining the problem and the hazard it has placed you and your property in, and ask him or her to remedy the situation. If this proves unsuccessful, you may want to consider private litigation.

    In all cases, it is extremely important to provide the District with as much detailed information about the problem as possible. All complaints result in an investigation, almost always involving a field visit, but complaints that "someone upstream has diverted flow" are rarely resolved because the field investigator has no idea where to start looking, and our ability to enter onto private property without permission is limited. Providing the District information about the specific source and/or location of the problem is critical. Other important information to provide when submitting a Drainage Complaint is the date and time the flooding occurred, the direction from which the water came, the depth of flow, and any other information that may help the District determine the nature and source of the problem.

    To begin a Drainage Complaint, please complete a Drainage Complaint Form and return it to the District.

    Floodplain Management Division:

    The Floodplain Management Division processes Drainage Complaints for most single-lot drainage issues. These are situations in which an individual has done something on his or her property that may adversely impact a neighboring property. Classic examples of this type of diversion are filling in or altering the alignment of regulatory washes, construction of walls, or creation of berms on the property. On a limited basis, FPM pursues enforcement on the maintenance of private infrastructure.

    Infrastructure Management Division:

    The Infrastructure Management Division processes Drainage Complaints related to public infrastructure such as public drainageways, bank protection, and/or detention/retention basins. Enforcement of maintenance of private infrastructure is not currently covered under the Ordinance, but the District is pursuing changes to the Ordinance that would allow the Floodplain Management Division to pursue enforcement on drainage issues to these private features.

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    Regional Flood Control District

    97 E. Congress, 3rd Fl.
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Phone: (520) 724-4600
    Fax: (520) 724-4621


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