Q May the city make drainage repairs that will primarily benefit a private landowner if it is determined that the city’s previous drainage repairs or construction may be partially responsible for flooding? If so, does maintenance or repairs on a private drainage pipe, culvert or area in the past create a duty to perform future maintenance or repairs?

A A municipality has the authority to do what is necessary on public property, including rights of way and easements, to correct unsafe conditions which were directly caused by the manner in which the municipality has drained its streets. Such authority to perform work is limited to the municipality’s effort to mitigate damages, as opposed to providing a service to the land owner. While the municipality would continue to have the obligation to maintain streets in a manner which does not create unsafe conditions or health hazards through erosion or flooding, this does not create an obligation for future maintenance or repairs on a private drain pipe of culvert. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Manley, September 6, 2013)