By Jessica Mathews /

With some wild winter weather in the forecast, Livingston County residents and businesses are being advised of some concerns with barriers to water flow and potential flooding.

Livingston County Drain Commissioner Brian Jonckheere says it’s important to check for vulnerabilities resulting from the situation of rain on top of snow with frozen ground. He says conditions are somewhat rare and infrequent in that there’s a fair amount of snow on the ground, which when it melts produces quite a bit of water when it melts; frozen ground which doesn’t allow for ground infiltration; and then rain coming down. All of those factors can result in water flowing across the landscape, going to lower areas.

Jonckheere says homeowners should think about how their property normally drains and make sure there aren’t any barriers to water flow, such as piling snow. He says once piling snow absorbs a fair amount of rain and runoff, it basically turns to ice and can become a barrier depending on how much water there is – which could divert toward homes, garages, basements or other areas where it’s not wanted.

Jonckheere advises looking at driveways to see where snow has been plowed and determine if it’s blocking where water normally flows. He told WHMI it’s really just common sense stuff to look at your property, determine where water always flows, and move a bit of the snow if needed to allow a route for the water to escape. Jonckheere added that kids can actually be a big part of the solution and simply dig a breach through the snowbank so that water can flow and get where it needs to go.

Jonckheere noted there’s a lot of road grading that’s been done and a lot of times snow can get pushed in and over catch basins, which is especially prevalent in subdivisions. He said if those are blocked, removing the snow so water can get in is important.

For those in more rural areas, water in culverts can become frozen. If that happens and water can’t move under a driveway, Jonckheere says it will most likely move over a driveway but hopefully not into a home or another portion of a person’s property.

If a culvert is blocked and water could head toward a home, there are ways to divert it but Jonckheere said people should be careful to not divert water onto a neighboring property. Sandbags are available for pick-up through the Office while supplies last. Jonckheere said sometimes just a few of those are all that’s needed to divert water where you want it to go and they’re happy to provide some resources to help with preventing a possibly flooded garage or basement.