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Posted on: April 10, 2020

Keeping Culverts Clear Helps Minimize Flooding

Culvert Story Image (1)

As spring descends upon us and yard maintenance activities increase, residents should make sure to clear culvert pipes and ditches of any lingering leaves and debris. Because culverts are designed to collect stormwater runoff, they tend to fill quickly with natural debris such as fallen leaves. Springtime precipitation can quickly overwhelm a clogged culvert, which is why routine maintenance is the key to ensuring proper drainage around your property and avoiding flooding and costly repairs.

Culverts that flow under a property owner’s driveway are often the responsibility of the property owner. When a culvert pipe or ditch is not part of a Stafford County or Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) owned easement, it is the responsibility of that property owner. Property owners must take responsibility to keep stormwater free-flowing through their culverts.

"Drainage is a top roadway maintenance activity year-round," said Kelly Hannon, VDOT Manager. "Private property owners play an important role in keeping stormwater draining away from road surfaces. A driveway or commercial entrance pipe clogged with leaves, grass clippings or other yard debris could quickly pose a safety hazard if it is preventing water from flowing through the drainage system."  

Here is some crucial information regarding routine maintenance and culvert repair or replacement:    

  • Regular culvert maintenance may include grass mowing, as well as the removal of trash, vegetation, debris, or any obstruction that prevents water from flowing through the culvert freely. 
  • Culvert repairs or replacements can be made without County approval or permits as long as the culvert replacement is made with the same diameter pipe at the same general slope and length, and less than 2,500 square feet of total land will be disturbed for the repair and/or replacement.
  • Private entrance culverts within VDOT right-of-way may require a land use permit from VDOT for repairs or replacement.    
  • If there are cases where existing culverts may be too small to pass, stormwater runoff from rainfall events adequately, residents must inform the Stafford County Department of Public Works. This action is to ensure that any proposed changes to the culvert size are appropriately engineered and evaluated for impacts to adjacent properties and drainage ways.

For additional information about culvert repair or replacement, please visit:

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