Backyard water dispute prompts action by DuPage County

UNINCORPORATED BENSENVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A couple in DuPage County contacted the I-Team, saying their backyard is a swamp thanks to a wall under a fence which they said causes year-round flooding.

Neighbors call it a "water wall." One homeowner said her backyard started overflowing with water after her neighbor made changes to his yard, but county leaders said other factors could be to blame.

"It's sad to see your property destroyed and you can't do anything about it," said Debby Knysch.

Knysch claims water in her yard used to flow into a nearby retention pond.

"We're the retention pond now," she said.

Knysch said her backyard now looks like a pond, which in turn creates a breeding ground for mosquitos.

"Maybe in August it may dry, but no, it's always wet," she said.

Knysch claims the water built up when her neighbor built a wall under the fence about 6 years ago.

In 2015 there was a DuPage County Adjudication hearing. The owner denied causing the flooding, and argued that his property was also being flooded. But he was found to be in violation for not having the right paperwork for the wall, and was ordered to take down the concrete block and bricks, which were "impeding the water flow."

The owner appealed. The decision was upheld but the county never fined the owner because county leaders said they were working with him on resolving the issue.

"We saved all our lives to have this beautiful dream home and we've watched it be destroyed since 2013. And the county is not helping us at all," Knysch said.

Knysch said in 2017 her neighbor took part of the wall down by her property but the water problems continued.

Then, about a year ago, DuPage's Storm Water Management team evaluated the drainage issue. Deputy Director Sarah Hunn told the I-Team the flooding could be caused by several other factors like erosion, landscaping and changes in vegetation.

"We determined that whether or not the wall was there, there would be problems," Hunn said.

Hunn also says that flooding has been affecting multiple homes so her team did not specifically assess the wall as it relates to flooding.

"The drainage patterns that were originally established no longer exists today," she said.

Now the county will install a new pipeline to resolve the drainage issue for all the affected homes.

"We want to make the drainage situation better for the entire subdivision," Hunn explained.

The county also said the owner is working with them to now install the drainage pipeline and to remove the wall and fence because it would block the proposed pipeline. His attorney said the agreement would dismiss all violations.

"As part of our solution to actually get the pipe installed, we are taking down the wall," Hunn said.

The homeowner's attorney Mark W. Daniel of Daniel Law Office, P.C., also added, "Every neighbor in the subdivision bears some responsibility for where things are now with the county with regard to storm water" and that "the primary issue arose because of how the subdivision was constructed."

Knysch said she hopes the county's changes will dry out her dream property.

DuPage's Storm Management team says the drainage pipe installation has been approved in a recent meeting and they will likely begin work by September.

While it still remains unclear if the wall played a role in the flooding, it certainly divided these neighbors.
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