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Ditch Piping Program
About the Program
The Department of Public Service offers ditch piping services to property owners who wish to make aesthetic improvements by filling existing drainage ditches.

Ditch Piping
The piping of ditches is usually considered an aesthetic improvement to property. In neighborhoods with curbing and piped drainage systems, the cost for the improvements is incurred by the developer and subsequently passed on to property owners in the price of the developed lots. In neighborhoods with open ditches, a property owner may elect to improve the property by requesting the city to pipe existing drainage ditches. In this program, the property owner will be responsible for the cost of the permit, an engineering fee, materials, and a per-foot cost for labor and equipment.
Property owners should be aware that ditches not only provide an efficient and effective means for the discharge of stormwater but also reduce the level of ground water, provide storage and can reduce pollutants commonly found in stormwater runoff. In some cases, ditch piping can cause adverse effects. In specific instances where this is the case, the piping of ditches is not recommended and may be denied.

Only ditches that are within a publicly maintained right of way or publicly dedicated drainage easement are eligible for piping in this program. Ditches that are located in rights of way maintained by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) require approval from SCDOT prior to alteration or installation of pipe. Ditches that lie solely within the limits of a private parcel and are not part of the public drainage system are not eligible for the ditch piping program.

Requesting a Ditch Pipe
The property owner is responsible for the cost of the permit, engineering, materials, labor, and equipment required to complete the installation. The cost of materials is based on actual cost to the city for the pipe, bricks, inlets, concrete, fill material, topsoil, grass seed, and any other materials that may be deemed necessary for a specific job. The labor and equipment rate is a per-foot cost, which is based on the actual cost to the city to staff and equip the pipe-laying crew. Currently, this fee is established at $16 per linear foot. The permit fee is the standard fee charged by the city and engineering will be charged at a rate of 10% of the total cost for the materials and labor and equipment.
A property owner may contact the Engineering Division to request that a ditch be piped. The property owner may be requested to complete a piping request form to ensure that your request is received and recorded. Then a staff engineer will inspect the property and determine the following:
  • Confirm that the requested project is in a city maintained right-of-way, an established easement dedicated to and maintained by the city, or a state-maintained right-of-way within the corporate limits of the city. If the requested project is within an SCDOT-maintained right-of-way, the city will contact the SCDOT District Office to determine design requirements for the requested project.
  • Review the master drainage and floodplain management plan to determine if it is in an area with a history of flood problems to insure that the work will not adversely affect properties within the drainage basin and to incorporate any recommendations of the plan into the design of the pipe system.
  • Determine the direction of flow for stormwater, the upstream and downstream connections, and determine the size of the pipe required and other boxes, grates, inlets that may be required.
  • Identify any utilities, trees, and other obstructions that might impact construction of the drainage pipe system.
  • Prepare a cost estimate and a letter of authorization that will be forwarded to the property owner.

Further Steps
After the property owner receives the cost estimate and the letter of authorization and determines that he wants to proceed with the project, he will return a signed copy of the letter of authorization along with a non-refundable deposit for 10% of the total value of the job. The deposit will be applied to the total cost of the job due when the engineering drawings are complete and prior to construction of the project.
At this point, the staff engineer will order a complete topographic and horizontal survey including property pins, overhead and underground utilities, and surface improvements such as edge of pavements, mailboxes, signs, top of ditch, bottom of ditch, etc. The survey will be prepared in a plan and profile format for design of the proposed drainage pipe and sufficient for submission to the SCDOT when required. The design will be completed for the section of ditch to be piped.

SCDOT Approval
Ditches that are within the corporate limits of the City of Charleston, but that are in state maintained rights of way, will require approval by SCDOT. The staff engineer will prepare a permit application and submit it to SCDOT for approval. Every effort will be made by the city to submit an encroachment application that SCDOT will approve. However, the city cannot perform work in the state maintained right of way without SCDOT approval. Property owners are advised that the SCDOT approval process can add 45 days or more to the approval process.

Design Completion
When the design is complete and any necessary permits have been received, the property owner will be provided a copy of the drawings for review and be asked to submit the remainder of the balance due for construction of the piping project to the Finance Division. Once the letter and check have been received, the Finance Division will notify the Stormwater Division that the check and letter of authorization have been received by forwarding a copy of the authorization letter. When the Stormwater Division receives the authorization letter, the work will be scheduled within two to four weeks (weather permitting).

The estimate provided by the city to the property owner will be valid for a period of three months. After three months, the property owner may be subject to a revised estimate if additional costs are determined by the city at the time that the property owner wishes to proceed with the work. Applications that are more than six months old will be considered expired and a new request from a property owner will be required. Any fees applied to the original application will be forfeited.
Frank Newham
Engineering Division

2 George Street
Suite 2100
Charleston, SC 29401

Ph: 843-724-3713