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Bloomington Indiana Surface Drainage

Updated on April 11, 2016

Surface Drainage

If you live in Monroe County, Indiana and have drainage problems, you are not alone. The topography is naturally flat, add to that soils that drain water poorly, and you have the ingredients for serious problems when it comes to drainage. Often improving surface drainage around the home will help alleviate many of your drainage problems.

Ditches are made for surface water to roll into and be held until the water can soak back in to the ground and filter down to the aquifer, or slowly run off to collecting tributaries and eventually to the lake. When there are no ditches the water lays on the surface. When open natural space is developed, and replaced with a hard surface (such as pavement) the water cannot soak in to the hard surface and must either run off to a ditch to be held until it runs to a stream and eventually to Lake Erie, or it evaporates into the atmosphere.


If you are planning to build a home, consider building the house one block higher than normal. This is often enough to provide an adequate slope away from the foundation. You optimally want to see at least 6" of fall away from the foundation within the first 10 feet. After settling, there may appear low spots along the foundation which you want to watch for. Fill in and re-grade as needed.

Gutters and down-spouts are a must for every home. Down-spouts should be extended out at least 10' away from the foundation to improve drainage. Keep gutters clean to keep them from overflowing. Water from sump pumps should also be taken at least 10' away from the foundation to keep from re-circulating the same water.

Sump Pump

Rain gardens are a helpful and aesthetically pleasing way to do your part to decrease flooding, drainage problems and pollution. Rain gardens are areas planted to wild flowers and other native plants that soak up rain water.

Down-spouts and surface drainage from impervious areas are directed toward the rain gardens which collect the surface water and slowly filter it into the ground. A rain garden allows about 30% more water to soak into the ground than a conventional patch of lawn. This helps to recharge the local aquifer, decrease flooding, and filter pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides and automotive fluids.

Rain gardens should be located at least 10' away from your home’s foundation and should not be placed over a septic system. Rain gardens do best in full or partial sun and should not be placed where water already ponds as the goal is for the water to percolate down through the soil. You can find more information on rain gardens at this website:

Check out the “All About Rain Gardens” item on the upper left section of the web page.

Yards should be graded so that surface water will flow to a proper outlet such as a stream or storm sewer. This is most easily accomplished by grading yards toward side and backyard swales. In older neighborhoods, neighbors may need to work together to divert surface water to a proper outlet. Swales should be constructed with 1% grade and 4:1 side-slopes so they can be mowed easily. Nothing should be built over a swale (such as a shed or privacy fence) which would obstruct the drainage.

If after correcting surface drainage problems, you are still experiencing water problems related to your home itself, subsurface drainage improvements may be necessary.

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© 2016 Beebz


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