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Key to ditch dilemma: Make landowners responsible, report says

The key to keeping the ditches in Mathews County flowing freely might just be to make landowners responsible for the ditches on their own property, according to a report on the county’s ditch dilemma by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center of the William and Mary Law School.

The report outlines the difficulties county residents face in trying to determine who has responsibility for maintaining their ditches. One such difficulty, says the report, is that any entity—whether it be the Virginia Department of Transportation, the county government or a private resident—is only responsible for maintaining a ditch for which it holds a drainage easement.

In addition, while VDOT is required by statute to keep an official record of any drainage easements it holds, the agency hasn’t routinely done that and so doesn’t know which ditches it has a legal responsibility to maintain, other than those within its 30-foot right-of-way, the report said.

The research involved i...

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