Frequently Asked Questions


"What is a regulated drain?"
A regulated drain is a drain under the jurisdiction of the Hamilton County Drainage Board and can be an agricultural drain, urban storm sewer or open drain.

"What determines whether a drain is regulated or private?"
Regulated drains were established by the courts years ago. Today, they need to be petitioned for through the Hamilton County Drainage Board.

"Who are the Drainage Board members?"
The Hamilton County Drainage Board is made up of the Hamilton County Commissioners.

"Where do I find maps of regulated drains?"
Maps are on file at the County Surveyor’s Office. Additionally, the drain mapping can be viewed online with the Hamilton County General Viewer.

"How can I get a hole fixed on a tile drain?"
If the tile drain is regulated by the County and on a maintenance program, you can call or come into the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office and fill out a Drainage Investigation Form.

"When do I need a permit?"
There are several permits issued by the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office. These permits are issued for work being done to or across a regulated drain or its easement. These can be issued for permanent or temporary work or encroachments. Please contact our office anytime a regulated drain might be affected by your project. Permit applications are also available for download on our website.

"When does a storm drain become a regulated drain?"
In Hamilton County, any subdivision over five lots and outside a municipal’s corporate limits is required to become regulated.

"During the last storm event the storm sewer on my street could not keep up.  Why is this?"
Chances are the storm event was greater than a ten-year storm.  Typically in Hamilton County, storm sewers are designed for a ten-year storm event.  However, there are instances where the storm sewers are designed for a five or two-year storm based on contributing watershed factors.

"My neighbor has blocked or filled in the natural surface flow across their property, backing water upon my property.  What recourse do I have?"
In 1996, the private drainage law was established by the State Legislative Committee. The intent of the law is to protect property owners from obstructing a natural drainage way. You can call or come into the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office and fill out a Drainage Investigation Form.

"Why aren’t Regulated Tile Drains part of the one call system?"
Drains do not have a tracer wire installed with them.

"Will someone from the Surveyor’s Office locate my Regulated Tile Drain?"
No, the Surveyor’s Office does not have the resources to probe for and locate Regulated Tile Drains.

"I have a tile that connects to a regulated drain.  Does this mean that maintaining this tile is the county’s responsibility?"
No, the county is responsible for the regulated drain only. Any private tile connecting to a regulated drain tile is the responsibility of the landowner.


"Why do I pay an assessment and how is that money spent?"
Your property is located within the Regulated Watershed for that drain. A drain maintenance assessment is paid into a fund for the maintenance and repair of that drain.

"Who determines who pays and how much?"
Drainage Assessment rates are determined by the Hamilton County Drainage Board at public hearings. Each person affected is sent a notice of the hearing. The Drainage Board sets the rates based upon recommendations by the County Surveyor.

"Does the assessment go to the general fund?"
No. Assessments go to a separate account for each individual regulated drain.

"What is the difference between an assessment and a tax?"
An assessment is paid by people that benefit from the regulated drain that they are assessed to.  Not everyone in Hamilton County lives within the drainage shed of a regulated drain and would not pay an assessment.

"Why do I pay a drainage assessment if the Drain is not even located on my property?"
Even though the drain may not physically run through your property, your property is within the Regulated Watershed and is benefited by the drain.

"How do I pay my drain assessment?"
The assessment can be paid by mail or at the Hamilton County Treasurer’s Office at the Historic Courthouse.


"I want to install a fence on my property.  Can I do this?"
First, you must determine if your property has any easements on it.  If the easements are regulated, then you must contact the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office for the requirements to place the fence within the easement.

"Can I put a fence in an easement?"
If the easement is for a County Regulated Drain, any encroachment into the easement must be approved by the Drainage Board.   If not, then consult the planning jurisdiction where you live.

"What is the difference between a Drainage Easement and a Regulated Drain Easement?"
A Drainage Easement (DE) is an area reserved for drainage facilities.   An easement protects that area for current or future drainage needs.  A Regulated Drain Easement protects drainage facilities operated by the County Drainage Board.


"What is that "ditch" in my backyard for?"
That shallow v-shaped swale is for draining the rear of the lots and potential offsite water to a storm sewer inlet. 

"Can I fill in the swale in my backyard?"
Possibly - but only with an approved drainage plan.   Filling in a swale will block drainage.  Check with the proper jurisdiction for their regulations about piping a swale. 

"Who should I contact to get permission?"
If your swale has a Regulated Drain with it, then contact the County Surveyor's Office.  If not, then contact the Engineering Department for the local planning jurisdiction.

"Can I build sheds, playground equipment, etc. in the swale in my backyard?"
No, this will block the drainage through the swale in the rear of the lots and prevent flow to a storm sewer inlet.


"Do I need a permit to build a pond?"
A permit may be required from the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office if the pond falls within the easement of a regulated drain or if you will  need an outlet to the regulated drain.  You may also need to contact your local planning commission, Hamilton County Soil and Water District, and Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

"Is a new subdivision required to put in a detention pond?"
Yes.  New subdivisions are required to detain storm water runoff in wet ponds or dry basins.  They also may serve other needs, such as, providing dirt for house pads or serving as amenities.

"What does the detention pond do?"
Storm water collects into a detention area and is released at a slower rate.   The purpose is to keep downstream land from being flooded out. 

"What safety features are built into the pond near my house?"
Ponds built in new Hamilton County Regulated Drain subdivisions are required to build a safety ledge within the ponds to help promote safety.  A safety ledge is either a 10' wide shelf submerged about 18" or a 10' wide 5:1 slope submerged around the perimeter of the pond.

"What can I do about the geese problem?"
Research has found that thick wetland plantings at the water’s edge discourages geese from leaving the pond to walk on the bank and leave droppings by providing a natural barrier.   It also may help discourage people from entering the pond.  Contact a wetland biologist for more information. 


"The builder is discharging my (or my neighbor's) sump pump across the ground and is causing a wet area in my yard.  Is this correct?"
This would depend on the jurisdiction you live in.

"Can I just outlet the sump pump on the surface?"
We recommend connecting to an adequate storm sewer.   Most newer subdivision lots provide an outlet for each lot to tie into.   Out letting on the surface will cause a wet area and, in some cases, recycle back through the sump pump 

"Where can I discharge my sump pump?"
If you live within a regulated subdivision an outlet should be provided to each property, if not this office recommends that the sump pump discharge to an adequate storm system. 

"What is the "D" marking on the curb in front of my house?"
The “D” marking on the curb stands for Subsurface Drain.  A Subsurface Drain is a perforated conduit such as a pipe, tubing, or tile installed beneath the ground to intercept, collect, and convey excess ground water to a suitable outlet.


"Does the office survey private property?"
No, the Hamilton County Surveyor's Office does not perform boundary surveys or offer legal advice on the location of “property” lines. A private licensed Professional Surveyor and Attorney can help you with these items.

"Will the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office employee find my lot corners?"
No, Delineation or demarcation and placement of any monument on or in close proximity to a land boundary must be executed by a private Professional Land surveyor. 865 IAC 1-12-5

"Can A fence company contractor find my lot corners?"
No, Delineation or demarcation and placement of any monument on or in close proximity to a land boundary must be executed by a private Professional Land surveyor. 865 IAC 1-12-5

"Can I use a Surveyors Location Report to construct a fence?"
No. The SLR is designed for use by title companies and states that “no liability will be assumed for any use of data for construction of new improvements or fences”.  865 IAC 1-12-29

"Can I use a Plot plan to construct a fence?"
No.  A plot plan is used to get a construction permit.

"Are all surveys recorded?"
No.  Indiana has only recently required the recordation of surveys in specific circumstances as in a) the creation of a new tax parcel; b) a previously unrecorded survey; or c) when the recent survey differs significantly from the description of record. 865 IAC 1-12-12

"What is a Legal Survey?"
A landowner desiring to establish the location of the line between the landowner's land and that of an adjoining landowner by means of a legal survey may do so in accordance with Indiana Code Title 36-2-12-10. The Legal Survey is entered in the County Surveyor’s legal survey record book.

"Will the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office prepare an Elevation Certificate?"
No.  The Elevation Certificate is to be completed by a private licensed land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information.


"What are Section Corners?"
Section corners were created when the government originally surveyed Indiana into “mile square” parcels.  Section corners refer to the four (4) corners of the “mile square” parcel.  The intermediate half-mile corners are referred to as “quarter corners” because they divide the section into quarters.  These corners are usually found near the centerline(s) of this County’s roads.  They are marked by monuments set under the direction of a licensed surveyor.

"Why do I see people from your office working or digging in the middle of the road?"
The County Surveyor is required to maintain records indicating the location of each original government horizontal monument (section corners, quarter corners, etc.) within their county.  Many of these monuments are found near the centerlines of roads, along with monuments in fields and in subdivisions. It is the responsibly of the County Surveyor to verify and reference these monuments for public use. These references can be found on the Hamilton County GIS system.  (IC 36-2-12 sec. 10&11)


"How often is aerial photography taken?"
Since 2004 Aerial photography has been flown every year, usually in the Spring.  In addition, Hamilton County maintains aerial photography from 1936, 1941, 1956, 1962, 1974, 1976, 1985, 1994, 1996/97, 1998, 2000, and 2001.

"When is the next Hamilton County map going to be revised?"
Because of Hamilton County’s growth, the Hamilton County Road Map is continually updated throughout the year.  They are available in the office for $10.

"Can I use the Hamilton County GIS layers to determine my 'property line'?"
No. They are not legal documents and only serve as a graphical representation of the line.