Ohio Drainage Law legally addresses drainage rights and runoff issues. The reasonable use doctrine frequently applied by the Ohio Supreme Court permits broad latitude in the interpretation of individuals rights as they pertain to drainage. It states, “A possessor of land is not unqualifiedly privileged to deal with surface water as he pleases, nor is he absolutely prohibited from interfering with the natural flow of surface waters to the detriment of others. Each possessor is legally privileged to make a reasonable use of his/her land, even though the flow of surface waters is altered thereby and causes some harm to others. He incurs liability only when his harmful interference with the flow of surface water is unreasonable.”
Civil law, through court action, determines whether a change in the flow of water is “reasonable” on a case-by-case basis. Landowners have the right to make “reasonable” changes in the flow of water to protect their property from damage, but may incur liability for changes that “unreasonably” affect neighboring properties.
The district can provide an on-site investigation and evaluation for a landowner to provide guidance and recommendations on handling drainage water.