Many New Jersey HOAs were originally built with grading and drainage that for the most part pitched away from buildings, toward a roadway, rear lawn area swale, or sheet flow drainage area, ultimately collecting in a storm water retention or detention facility. Unfortunately, poor design, deficient surface grading, limited drainage structures and/or poor soils used in an attempt to reduce overall construction costs often resulted in deficient drainage, leading to marshy conditions or pooling water.
More Than Meets the Eye
Both new and aged HOA communities should take pains to properly identify and repair deficient drainage conditions on their property. Newly constructed communities have the luxury of the developer-to-board transition process to help repair their drainage deficiencies, and usually the input of an engineer who can examine possible drainage problems early on, and with a critical eye.
That being said, transitioning communities must do more than merely rely upon a visual inspection to determine whether an area is draining properly. Existing marshiness, especially in new construction, is not the only telltale sign of a drainage problem. The size of the drainage area, the amount of runoff entering it, soil types and conditions, grade slopes, and swale definition must all be assessed and analyzed as contributing factors
Usually, all areas of a new site—especially newly sodded areas—will appear to be draining properly because the fresh sod often soaks up or obscures excess water. Many times the deficient drainage areas only become obvious through visible marshiness or maintenance difficulty years after the community is complete, and the deficient areas have been continually saturated.
Site grading and drainage—including storm water detention facilities—should be designed and constructed to allow the areas to drain efficiently over time. Low-lying or flat areas that have poor soil with slow or no permeability will be constantly saturated after storm events. Over time, these areas will become unsightly and impossible to maintain. Relying on an untrained eye to give the final verdict on an area can spell major future headaches for the association as trouble arises and repair costs start to add up.