There is a manhole in my backyard. What does Charlotte Water (CLTWater) do to maintain pipes in my yard?
CLTWater maintains a large network of sanitary sewer or wastewater pipes. These are different from the storm drains along gutters. The wastewater pipes flow our communities’ wastewater from your homes and businesses to a wastewater treatment plant.
An easement agreement is a legal document that gives CLTWater the right to access, maintain, clear, repair, inspect, improve, renovate, and replace facilities (including pipes and manholes) on private property.
Below is an illustration of wastewater pipes under the streets and then through woods to collect wastewater and flow downstream to a wastewater treatment plant.
|What is an Easement?||Permanent and temporary construction easements are needed to build and maintain water and sewer pipes. An easement agreement is a legal document that gives CLTWater the right to access, maintain, clear, repair, inspect, improve, renovate and replace facilities on a property. City representatives work with property owners to finalize the terms of the agreement, and compensation is determined through an appraisal. |
The easement agreement is signed by both the City and the property owner and is recorded at the Mecklenburg Register of Deeds office. The agreement is accessible online on the Register of Deeds website.
NOTE: When purchasing a property, easements are not typically reported as part of a title search for the purchase of title insurance. The best way to determine if there are any easements is to survey the property.
|What can a property owner do with their land within an easement?||Though the property owner still has ownership of the land, there are restrictions to what they can do within an easement. Any restricted items that are found within an easement during clearing activities will not be replaced at Charlotte Water’s expense.|
1. Nothing permanent may be stored or built on top of the easement. This includes but is not limited to slabs, walls, fill, permanent sheds, pools, gazebos and medium-large size trees.
2. Fences are allowed across an easement if a 12-foot access gate is provided. Gates shall be dual-locked to allow access by the property owner and the City.
3. Charlotte Water has a ‘Landscaping/Planting Guidelines’ document that can help a property owner decide what to plant within an easement. Certain plants and trees are restricted, as follows:
+ No trees are allowed within a permanent easement.
+ Plants with an invasive root system are not allowed.
+ Gardens, crops, shrubbery and ornamental trees with shallow roots are acceptable within an easement but not directly over the pipe.
4. Installing a concrete/asphalt driveway partially over the easement is possible but with the following restrictions:
+ The property owner will be responsible for any damage caused to the pipe. Care should be taken in compacting the excavated area to avoid damage to the pipe.
+ The property owner will call 811 have utilities located before digging inside easement.
+ A driveway must be shallow (not to exceed 1 foot and shouldn’t cover any existing access points or manholes).
5. Irrigation systems are not permitted within water and sewer easements. Charlotte Water is not responsible for the repair of any irrigation systems installed within a permanent easement.
|What happens to an easement during construction?||Easements are cleared of trees, shrubs, structures, and debris in preparation for construction activities. Existing fences located in the easements are removed and temporary fences are installed during construction. |
|What happens in an easement after a construction project?||Typically, crews will re-grade, fertilize and seed easements after construction. Once restored, property owners can make plans to replace landscaping. Charlotte Water is not responsible for replacing custom landscaping within an easement. Charlotte Water will also repair and replace pavement that was damaged during construction.|
|Who can I contact if I have an easement question?||Prior to any digging or construction, Call 811 to locate any underground utilities (NC 811, Call Before You Dig) or 800.632.4949.|
For water and sewer questions within Mecklenburg County, please call the Charlotte Water Assets Hotline at 704.336.1265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the address or parcel ID of the property. For storm water or drainage easements, please call 311 for assistance.
To identify water or sewer easements on your property, email email@example.com with a location (address/parcel ID), details of the request and your contact information.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Easement information is available on the Storm Water Easement webpage.
|How does CLTWater clear the easement?||Tree roots can penetrate wastewater pipes, blocking the flow of wastewater, and eventually causing an overflow.|
CLTWater periodically clears permanent easements of trees and debris to prevent overflows.
Debris will be turned into mulch or transported off-site.
When possible, trees on the edge of permanent easements are preserved.
Property owners may see activity for several days until crews are able to access easements from another location.
|What is a Road right-of-way?||A Road right-of-way is a portion of property near the road that is owned by the property owner and available for the city to use for street maintenance or utilities work.|
|How can I find out what is under my property?||Before you start digging along your property borders — or ANYWHERE NEAR public utilities located on or around your property — pick up the phone and dial N.C. One Call number at 1-800-632-4949.|
|Who do I contact if I have an easement question?||You can contact a Charlotte Water representative at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
Transcript for Permanent Easements and Your Property Video
There may be more under your property than you know.
If you own a property or are considering buying, the best way to find utility easements is to have the property surveyed. You can also call 311 or 704 336 7600 and ask to speak to Charlotte Water staff about your property. You may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement to receive information. If your property has an easement, then there are restrictions you need to follow. Permanent structures, irrigation systems, trees and other things that may damage or restrict access to the pipe are not permitted within easements, any restricted items found in the easement will not be replaced or repaired by Charlotte Water. If you have a question about an existing easement, please call or email Charlotte Water first. You can expect to see Charlotte Water crews clearing the easement occasionally. Crews may access your property to repair the pipe and eventually replace the pipe. When possible, Charlotte Water will provide advance notice of activities on your property. Charlotte Water staff is dedicated to providing safe drinking water and wastewater services to our community. To learn more please visit CharlotteWater.org.