When it rains, the water has to go somewhere. A stormwater conveyance system is designed to efficiently gather and carry the water from all across the community to large water bodies such as rivers and lakes. In order to be effective, the system must be sized correctly to handle the volumes of runoff generated. Charlotte's stormwater system is made up of a network of storm drains, pipes, streams and ponds. Often, components of this system are located on private property, behind homes and businesses along property lines. Storm Water Services is continually working to provide effective solutions to manage and limit the impact of stormwater runoff on our communities. The funds generated by the stormwater fee go directly to pay for these solutions, benefiting the community, protecting homes and property, the natural environment, valuable infrastructure and water quality. In order for work to be done on private property, an easement must be obtained, giving Storm Water Services legal access. If an easement is needed, a city Storm Water Services representative, either an employee or someone hired by Storm Water Services, will contact the affected property owners. In most cases, the property owner will be asked to donate an easement, after all, stormwater fees are paying for the project. The project cost include not only constructing the improvements but also planning and designing the improvements and acquiring the necessary easements to build the project. If an easement is not donated, Storm Water Services will work with property owners to reach an agreement on construction impacts. If we cannot reach an agreement, then the City has the right to condemn for the easement. Many storm drainage projects require multiple easements that connect many properties. Therefore, it is important that all easements are obtained in order to improve the entire system. Understanding easements. What is an easement? An easement is simply the right to access property. It is not a land taking. It allows the City a legal means to access private property while leaving ownership in the hands of the current owner. Why do we need easements? The purpose behind an easement is to provide the necessary space needed to construct improvements and to move equipment and materials in and around the construction site. An easement allows future access to allow for maintenance of the infrastructure and as the infrastructure needs to be replaced, the easement allows for that to happen. What happens after activity in the easement? Following construction or maintenance activity utilizing an easement, conditions will be restored. Property owners should continue to perform normal lawn maintenance such as watering the grass. There are different types of easement, storm drainage, conservation, specialized to name a few. Easements vary in width depending on the infrastructure improvements and how deep the system is in the ground. It is important to understand that there will be some limitations within an easement. Trees can't be planted too close to infrastructures as their roots might infiltrate and block pipes. Swimming pools cannot be installed within the easement as they would limit access. Permanent structures such as additions or brick walls or enclosed patios are also prohibited for the same reason. However, driveways are permitted as well as temporary structures such as sheds and fences but may need to be moved during maintenance. Easements may have special restrictions regarding vegetation and maintenance. Granting an easement is a significant role you can play in helping Storm Water Services protect your property and your neighbors from the impacts of stormwater runoff. You'll also be helping in a larger way by contributing to the protection of natural resources and overall water quality and your community. Storm Water Services, managing our stormwater together.