Union County, Ohio

Ditch Maintenance

Union County Ditches

Ditches are constructed to drain water from the land, especially during or immediately after times of heavy rain or melting snow. The Union County ditch maintenance program manages the spraying and mowing of 58 miles of ditches and 10 miles of subsurface drain pipe along 37 agricultural drainage systems. There are also 21 urban subdivision retention basins throughout the county under maintenance.

Not sure if a ditch near you is under maintenance? Contact Union SWCD at (937) 642-5871, ext. 104, to find out.

How are Ditches Assessed?

Ditch assessments, or special assessments as listed on your tax bill, are a fund established by the county to maintain drainage ditches.

The cost of constructing ditches is referred to as the base. A percentage of the base is collected annually through your taxes and kept in a fund for maintenance of a specific ditch (Long Ditch in Millcreek Township, etc.).

The Union SWCD's ditch maintenance program consists of spraying to prevent the establishment of trees, brush, and noxious weeds, and mowing to allow safe passage and inspection of the ditches. In addition, other ongoing maintenance practices include repairing tile outlets and erosion problems along banks, maintaining the proper depth of ditches, promoting a 15-foot berm along the ditches for stability and maintenance access, and removal of trees that have fallen in or across the ditches.

All properties exist in a watershed, an area of land drained by a stream, and every watershed varies in size and shape. Agricultural drainage tiles also drain the land and carry the water to the nearest stream in the watershed. Everyone in a watershed benefits from drainage access, but not all residents in a watershed with a maintained ditch are assessed the same rate.

Some residents may experience more benefit from drainage than others, especially properties nearest a ditch. Therefore, properties closest to a ditch are assessed a higher percentage than properties at the outer edge of the watershed.

Also, not all drainage ditches are maintained; therefore, if the property is bordering or outside of the watershed, there may not be an assessment for maintenance. Due to varying rates of runoff, agricultural properties are assessed at a lower rate per acre than commercial or residential sites.

The Union County Engineer determines watershed boundaries and dictates the drainage benefit within the watersheds. Then the Union County Auditor collects the tax assessments and appropriates the funds for maintenance.

The Union SWCD manages the ditch maintenance program, under the direction of the Union SWCD Board of Supervisors, County Commissioners, and Union County Engineer. Contact Union SWCD at (937) 642-5871, ext. 104, to request maps that outline watershed information and history.

Money Saving Tips

  • Do not place rocks in the easement area or in the ditch itself
  • Clear trash from ditch
  • Maintain at least a 15-foot berm
  • Contact Union SWCD at (937) 642-5871, ext. 104, if you notice any of the following:
    • Old and failing drainage outlets
    • Bank erosion and tile washouts
    • Lack of 15-foot berm, which is necessary to maintain a stable bank and reduce sediment in the ditches