Drainage Information for Property Owners

Is your property prone to flooding?

  • If you have the chance, and it's safe, go out during a significant rainfall event to see where the water runs onto and through the property.
  • Check to see if your structure has low window wells or door openings next to any drainage paths through the property. If yes, you may want to consider modifications to keep water out of the structure.
  • If there is a drainage path between your and any neighboring properties, check for any obstructions (e.g. fences, debris, landscaping, yard buildings, etc.).
  • If your structure has a walkout basement that backs up to a waterway, flooding may be possible during a larger rain event, even if you're not in a floodplain.
  • Consider finding out about flood insurance even if it is not required by your mortgage company. Flood insurance may be purchased even if you're not in a floodplain.

Be aware that urban storm drain inlets pipes and channels only have the capacity to handle minor rainfall storms. Runoff from major rain events may drain on other flowage routes through your property.

Neighborhood flooding after a rain event

If the lot next to yours appears to drain towards your lot or building(s):

  • Look to see if water draining from adjoining lots has a clear path through your property to a street or drainage way that is free of obstructions.
  • Consider getting a drainage evaluation or survey done by someone who understands drainage. Consult your local phone book for a list of surveyors, professional engineers or other drainage professionals.
Retaining wall

Check for existing drainage or flood information in and around your property:

Check the City's, Geospatial Information System (GIS) webpage at https://maps.lincoln.ne.gov/default/index.html?viewer=GISViewer to get a general idea of floodplain locations for Lincoln. You can check with the Building and Safety Department to determine if any portion of your property is in or near a Federal Emergency Management Agency designated flood zone.

For a fee, you may purchase a copy of the original drainage plan for your subdivision, if available, from the City Planning Department, 555 S. 10th Street, Suite 213. Review the drainage pattern shown on the plan to see the general drainage pattern for your area.

Check the plat map and obtain a copy of the deed for your property for any indication of drainage easements (County Assessor's Office, 555 S. 10th Street, 1st Floor-North).

"Good fences make good neighbors"... sometimes

Think carefully about landscaping and improving a property to address drainage issues.

  • If constructing a fence, shed, retaining wall or landscaping berm, plan and maintain it so that it doesn't obstruct or redirect drainage or runoff.
  • Redirecting downspouts and flows directly towards a neighbor's property is not advised and could result in a civil suit.
  • If you add landscaping (e.g. plantings and trees), consider their impact on drainage routes.
  • Dumping trash, grass clippings, tree limbs and other waste can clog drainage ways.

Buying a new home?

  • When buying a home, a basic understanding of how water drains to and from your lot is one of the most important issues.
  • In most situations, water drains away from a property and into a public storm system.
  • If you're thinking about purchasing a property, find where the drainage goes! Seek the advice of a professional, if needed.
  • Every property accepts or sheds water (or both). If your property accepts too much water you may experience flooding during rainfall events.
  • Be aware of drainage patterns and check if there are low window, door or window well openings.
  • Be especially careful if the basement (if any) has water in it or if it feels damp.
  • Check for a sump pump pit and ask about the frequency of pumping water out due to high water levels in the sump.
Flooded house Image courtesy of FEMA


  • If you're renting or looking into renting, much of the information in this brochure is still important for you, especially if you're in or thinking about a garden apartment or similar type apartment unit close to the ground.
  • Be aware of local drainage patterns and nearby drainage inlets.
  • Ask neighbors about any historical drainage issues.

PDF Brochure(PDF, 577KB)