Somersett lies in a rain shadow from the Sierra Nevada mountains and conditions tend to be on the dry side, so planning for drainage may not come immediately to mind when thinking about designing or redesigning your landscape.

But it does rain here – an average of about 7½ inches each year – and sometimes the downpours can be intense, such as one we encountered last month when a summer storm dropped nearly an inch-and-a-half of rain in a short, intense downpour. In addition, the soil in Northern Nevada is predominantly clay and very hard and does not absorb moisture easily, meaning that the rainfall has nowhere to go but down.

So, including drainage in your landscape design is important if you want to avoid flooding of your home and property – or your neighbor’s property. Another point to consider is that you could be on the hook if poor drainage from your property affects common areas. According to Somersett’s Aesthetic Guidelines, “The full cost of any damage caused to common area by drainage from a lot will be responsibility of the owner to repair.”

Our CC&Rs and Aesthetic Guidelines provide detailed guidance on drainage, so be sure that you and/or your landscape designer become familiar with these rules. If you have any questions, please contact Aesthetics Coordinator Brittany Felix at


The following is from the CC&R’s Article IV, Section 4. No Interference with Drainage

Each Lot Owner agrees that he will accept the burden of, and not in any way interfere with, the established drainage pattern over his Lot from adjoining or other Units in the Subdivision, or, in the event it is necessary to change the established drainage, that he will make adequate provisions for proper drainage over his Lot. No structure or other material shall be placed or permitted to remain which may damage, interfere with, obstruct, or retard the flow of water through drainage channels, or which may change the direction of flow of such channels, For the purposes hereof, “established” drainage is defined as the drainage which occurred at the time the overall grading of a Lot, including, if applicable, the landscaping of each Lot.

And this is what the Aesthetic Guidelines have to say in Section 3.5 Drainage:

The following are guidelines that should be incorporated into the drainage design. Drainage will be a major consideration in grading design and must be clearly indicated on site plans. Please refer to section 4.3.1 for details on site plan submittals.

  • Positive drainage must be provided away from proposed structures and directed into the existing drainage facilities.
  • Positive and unimpeded drainage meeting the intent of the approved plot plan and/or site grading plan must be maintained when designing and installing the landscape and hardscape. Hardscape walkways in the side yard may not completely block the drainage swale and must maintain a minimum 18” separation from the property line and/or fence line for production homes and a 5’ separation for custom homes.
  • In instances for production lots with a 5 foot side yard (from house foundation to property line on the side) walkways may be installed in the side yard with the following requirements: internalize into 4” minimum pipe all side and rear yard gutter drainage and collect rear yard drainage by installing two rear yard swale yard drains. All of the above collected drainage must be piped (4” minimum) to daylight in the front yard near the street. All details for the design must be clearly indicated on a site and/or landscape plan for consideration. The walkway must maintain a minimum of 18 inches to the property line.
  • For production lots with a 5 foot side yard an exception may be allowed at the sole discretion of the AGC to allow for one 5’ wide x 6’ long (maximum) hardscape pad in the side yard. This pad must have an 18” wide, 4” minimum depth, top grated valley gutter in line with the center line of the side yard swale. The valley gutter must be open at both ends (i.e. not buried) with an impervious bottom surface. In addition, the above drainage requirements for walkways in the side yard must be met. A detail for this must be provided for approval.
  • Natural drainage channels are to be protected and, where practical, existing drainage patterns maintained.
  • Drainage design shall seek to reduce erosion, protect water quality and carefully consider storm water runoff.
  • If installed, gutters and downspouts are required to direct drainage from the roofs to on-site drainage collection areas and/or street drainage systems. Gutters shall not alter existing or intended drainage patterns. In no event shall gutters and/or downspouts directly drain onto adjoining Lots or common area.
  • Increased water flow off of the Lot, resulting from improvements, shall be managed to the greatest extent possible within the Lot by systems that retain water. Damage caused from drainage to any area outside of the lot is the responsibility of the property owner.
  • Materials and sizes of all culverts at driveways, if applicable, are to be approved by the Committee.
  • Headwalls, armoring, and similar drainage structures, visible off-site are to be built of stone, gabions or other materials approved by the Committee. Abrupt pipe or culvert ends are to be softened with grading, landscape treatment, headwalls or a flared end section as deemed fit by the Committee.
  • All lot surfaces shall slope away from buildings at a minimum gradient of two percent (2%). Finished grade elevations shall be designed so that no impoundments or obstacles are created, which prevent positive drainage away from all buildings. All grading and drainage shall comply with applicable Local, State and Federal codes.
  • Sump pump discharge must be directed to the street or to an appropriate drainage facility. The sump pump design and discharge must be approved by the Committee.
  • Drainage shall not be directed onto neighboring Lots, driveways, and/or foundations, common area, parks, trails and golf courses with the sole exception of recorded drainage easements. The proposed drainage design may not deviate from approved drainage contemplated on the approved civil engineering plans for the area or the plot plan. No surface water drainage shall be directed into the common area or Somersett Country Club parcels, except in designated drainage channels, basins or other appropriate drainage facilities following the design intent of the master hydrology report or approved civil engineering plans. Approval of drainage onto common area or Somersett Country Club parcels will be approved at the sole discretion of the AGC, SOA Board of Directors and/or the Somersett Country Club Board of Directors.  If allowed, proper erosion control measures will be required. The full cost of any damage caused to common area by drainage from a lot will be responsibility of the owner to repair.

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