Private Creeks

Living with Your Creek

If your property has a creek or a waterway, the maintenance of the private creek is your responsibility. Typically, the private property extends to the center of the creek and not just to the fence line. These private creeks are an important part of our City's drainage system and are regulated by City Ordinance.

When the creek area is not properly maintained, the resulting obstructions can lead to increased flooding, changes in the course of the creek, and increased erosion. Proper creek care includes removing blockages (whether natural or man-made) that could cause flooding, keeping banks vegetated to prevent erosion, preventing pollutants from entering waterways, and removing trash to help maintain a healthy watershed. It is imperative that the work be conducted in such a manner that it will not adversely affect the natural habitat of vegetation and wildlife that share the creek with us, and in a way that will preserve the beauty of our creeks.

As a property owner, you are legally responsible for damages to adjacent property that result from neglect or unpermitted activities on your property. You are also responsible for the actions of your gardeners, landscapers, maintenance workers, and contractors. It is against the law to cause discharges of pollutants to our creeks and waterways.

Guidelines for Private Creek Maintenance

The Public Works Department recommends the following guidelines be followed when maintaining the creek on your property to protect your property and that of your neighbors:

  1. Remove all debris and foreign objects. These may include items such as bottles and cans, broken concrete, fallen fences, shopping carts, appliances, or any man-made object. It also includes wood and fallen trees or tree limbs. This is the property owner’s responsibility even if the object is washed down from upstream. It is recommended that all stored material in your backyard be placed a minimum of 10 feet away from the top of the bank to avoid materials washing into the creek during heavy storms. Sheds and minor structures should be anchored to the ground if closer than 10 feet from the top of the bank.
  2. Remove vegetation except for low ground cover from the creek banks up to the top of the bank (flood line) including shrubs, tules, pampas grass, cattails, and bamboo. Leave all root systems in place. Remove hanging vines that may create an obstruction to the natural flow of water in the creek. If you have berry vines, trim these back to the bank.
  3. Remove from the creek banks up to the top of the bank (flood line) any tree limbs which hang within two feet of the top of the bank. Any single tree of 2-inch diameter or greater which is living and not leaning toward the creek may remain. Some trees are protected by City Ordinance. A tree removal permit may be required. Contact Building Inspections at 972-291-1090 for more information on which trees are protected. 
  4. Do not clear-cut the creek slopes. Leave ground covers such as low grasses or vines. If you are directed to cut a tree, cut it at the ground level, but leave the roots in the ground.
  5. If you have existing slope stabilization measures such as rip-rap (rock or concrete), a retaining wall, or fabric mesh covering, keep these measures in good condition. If these measures require any repair or if you want to install a measure to stabilize your slope, you must first contact Public Works Engineering at 972-291-5126 to get a drainage or grading permit. 
  6. If any work is done to alter the creek such as widening, filling, or dredging, then permits from the City of Cedar Hill, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the US Army Corps of Engineers will be required.

Public Nuisance

Allowing or maintaining obstructions in a creek is a public nuisance under the City of Cedar Hill Code of Ordinances and is subject to enforcement.

Additional Contacts

  • Public Works Engineering 972-291-5126
  • Building Inspections 972-291-1090
  • Code Enforcement 972-291-1090
  • TCEQ Water Quality Division 512-239-4671
  • US Army Corps of Engineers 469-487-7007