Who Do I Call If…

Quick Reference Documents

Drainage Problems

Residents in the incorporated and unincorporated areas frequently have trouble determining who to call when they have a stormwater ponding or drainage problem. They frequently call several governmental units before determining who can respond to the problem or that they are going to have to solve the problem privately.

As a general rule, whoever owns the drainage way, pond, stream, pipe, etc., is ultimately responsible for its upkeep. In the case of tiles and storm sewers, in some instances upstream property owners or units of government may own easements for maintenance.

In most cases, the private property owner is responsible for maintaining the portion of the drainage system that is located in the property and solving localized drainage problems on the private property.

Local Drainage System Maintenance

Below are a description of various government agencies and their area of responsibility for local drainage system maintenance.

Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC)

SMC relies on other government agencies to respond to common drainage issues like individuals' yard drainage problems. SMC does take referrals from other agencies when the problems is of a watershed or regional scale, involves interjurisdictional issues or involves a violation of the Watershed Development Ordinance. SMC compiles data on drainage problems for watershed planning purposes, and facilitates coordination with other agencies when indicated. 

Lake County Planning, Building & Development (PB&D)

PB&D has primary responsibility for drainage issues in unincorporated areas of the county, and for compliance with the Lake County Unified Development Ordinance. PB&D has some funding available for the repair and/or maintenance of drainage facilities.


Municipalities have the primary responsibility for responding to drainage complaints within their jurisdictions. Most have either staff or a budget for addressing common drainage complaints through a public works program, and have the authority to enter lands to remove drainage way blockage.


Townships only have responsibility for drainage within the right-of-way (ROW) of township roads.

Drainage Districts

Drainage districts were historically agriculturally-oriented agencies. They have, in some cases, become involved in urban stormwater drainage by default. Property owners with drainage assessments on their property taxes should contact their drainage district chairman to report maintenance problems.

Homeowners Associations

HOAs are the fastest growing forms of local government. HOAs have the responsibility for maintaining the stormwater systems within subdivisions.

Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT)

LCDOT maintains bridges, culverts and ditches within the county road Right-of-Way. County highway signs are signified by the blue and gold route markers.

Lake County Health Department - Environmental Services

Environmental Services has primary responsibility for food and water quality, and wells jeopardized by flooding or a drainage problem.

Fox Waterway Agency (FWA)

FWA's primary responsibility is dredging, debris removal, shoreline protection, flood control and flood warning for the Chain O'Lakes area.