Pipe & Ditch Maintenance
The Stormwater Management Division maintains public ditches and drainage pipes throughout the City. Private drainage systems are the responsibility of the property owner. A private drainage system is one that receives runoff from private property only, as opposed to public drainage systems which receive runoff from public property such as streets and sidewalks.
If you believe a ditch or drainage pipe is clogged, contact the Chesapeake Customer Contact Center at 757-382-CITY (2489). All requests for blockage removal will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. With over 2,700 miles of open ditch, nearly 1,100 miles of underground pipe, and nearly 37,000 drainage structures throughout the City, the Public Works Department does not have the resources to clean and clear every ditch in the City every year, but they will always respond to emergency situations. If the issue is maintenance, a work order will be written and provided to Stormwater Operations to schedule crews and equipment to correct the problem. If the issue requires more than routine maintenance, a stormwater engineering plan may be necessary.
Ditch maintenance generally includes the removal of accumulated sediment per original ditch design to maintain the depth and slope required to convey stormwater runoff. Citizens can help maintain a well-functioning drainage system by mowing vegetation in ditches and keeping all debris - including leaves and grass clippings - out of ditches and storm drains. Keep in mind, it is illegal to intentionally dump leaves, grass clippings, litter, and other debris into ditches. Open ditches with maintained grass are preferred in order to provide erosion protection as well as a natural filtration system. Tree saplings and overgrowth are only removed from ditch banks by Stormwater crews when warranted for access due to maintenance needs, or if drainage flow is obstructed. Any routine trimming of grass and vegetation in any ditch is the responsibility of the property owner.
Blockages of ditches and pipes are frequent causes of flooding in neighborhoods. If your neighborhood has a piped stormwater system, City crews responding to blockages or performing maintenance may flush sediment from clogged drainage pipes. A pipe washer is used to pump high-pressure water through the pipe. For difficult maintenance needs, other specialized equipment may be used.
The City is working towards regular 6- and 5-year maintenance cycles for a limited number of public ditches, including some concrete-lined ditches, throughout the City.