Harris County Water Control and Improvement District No. 110 (“WCID110”), the water district serving your community, has several subdivisions within its boundaries. WCID110 provides water and sewer utility service to residences and businesses within its boundaries. Water and sewer lines are located within dedicated easements which grant WCID110 access to the easements to maintain its water and sewer lines. The easements are often located in your backyard, and WCID110 contractors/employees have the right under the law to enter your backyard to gain access to the easement.
What is an easement?
An easement provides the right to use an owner's property for a particular purpose. A WCID110 utility easement allows WCID110 the right to use an owner's property for specific purposes such as to construct, repair, maintain, operate, and manage utility facilities. Sometimes other utility providers, such as cable and telephone companies, also have the right to use the same utility easement.
Who owns the WCID110 utility easement?
The property owner owns the land upon which the easement is located. However, WCID110 has the right of way to enter upon that land to gain access to the easement for specified utility purposes.
How is an WCID110 utility easement created?
Generally, utility easements are created by plat when a platted subdivision is approved by the city or county. Utility easements may also be created by a separate agreement between the owner of the property and WCID110. Easements are generally located along streets, lot lines, or between two lots when created by a subdivision of land.
How do I know if there are any easements on my property?
Easements are usually recorded in the real property records of the county in which the land is located. The existence of a recorded easement should have been identified by the title company handling the purchase of your property. You may presume there is an easement over a portion of your property if you see utility lines on your property. Contact WCID110 for information about WCID110 easements.
Why is it important to keep WCID110 utility easements clear?
For example, there may be times when WCID110 must excavate a water line or sewer line in the easement or perform other maintenance/repair work in the easement. Access to the utility facilities located in the easement must be available at all times to perform the repairs. Obstructions in the easement can cause delays or conditions which may endanger WCID110 personnel.
WCID110 utility easements must be kept clear so that WCID110 can efficiently operate the utility facilities under its control that are located in the easement. To protect the integrity of the utility systems, the easement must remain unobstructed. The utility facilities located in the easement in your backyard are part of a system that serves the entire community and not just your home.
How does a WCID110 utility easement affect what I can do with my property?
A utility easement restricts your ability to use the easement portion of your land in a variety of ways. For example, you are restricted in placing structures or vegetation in the easement that would interfere with WCID110’s access to its utility facilities located in the easement. Storage buildings, pools, patios, decks, spas, trees or other vegetation that are located in the easement prevent unobstructed access to WCID 110, and therefore cannot be located in the easement.
What are my responsibilities regarding WCID110 utility easements?
At all times, WCID110 must have continuous, unobstructed access to easements. Prior to placing any structures, pools, spas, patios, plants, tress or other shrubry in an easement, you may solicit the consent from HC110. Consent, if granted by HC110, will be conditioned upon WCID110 retaining its easements rights such that damage to the structure or vegetation is at the owner’s risk. WCID110 has no obligation to replace or repair structures or vegetation damaged while working in the easement area, regardless of whether WCID110 provided consent. In fact, if WCID110 incurs additional cost as a result of the structure or vegetation in the easement, the owner mayl be held liable for th
e additional cost. In addition, an owner of property, where access to WCID110 easement is denied or obstructed, may be held financially liable for ‘construction delays.
How can I locate buried utilities if I plan to dig on my property?
For your safety, before you dig anywhere on your property, call 811. If you plan to dig more than 16 inches in depth with mechanical equipment, Texas law requires that you give utility providers notice prior to excavation by at least two (2) working days, but not more than fourteen (14) days prior to any excavation. Even if you plan to dig by hand, WCID110 encourages you to contact 811 and request utility located on your property.
The organization will notify WCID110, and a utility crew will be sent to your property to mark and color code any buried lines.
What if I build a structure on an existing WCID110 utility easement?
WCID110 must consent, in writing (a “consent to ‘encroachment”), to any structures in its easements. The failure to obtain written approval may result in the structure being removed at the property owner's expense. Consent, if granted by HC110, will be conditioned upon WCID110 retaining its easements rights so damage to the structure or vegetation is at the owner’s risk. WCID110 has no obligation to replace or repair structures or vegetation damaged while working in the easement area, regardless of whether WCID110 provided consent. In fact, if WCID110 incurs additional cost as a result of the structure or vegetation in the easement, the owner may be held liable for the additional cost.
What type of construction is permitted in an WCID110 utility easement?
A property owner or resident may not place or construct any structure or improvement on an WCID110 easement except for driveways, cart paths, fences (provided 8 foot-wide gates are installed), parking lots, and streets, and then, only if WCID110 has approved such construction. WCID110 requires certain height restrictions and vertical clearances to high voltage lines to be maintained at all times.
Do building permits have information about easements?
No. It is the property owner's responsibility to determine if there are any easements and/or restrictions on the use of his or her property. Approval of a building permit does not ensure that the proposed work does not violate an easement unless expressly noted on the permit. WCID110 can provide general WCID110 easement information to a property owner at no cost. However, should more assurance be necessary, WCID110 can have the area surveyed at the expense of the property owner.
What is WCID110's responsibility with respect to its easements?
WCID110 must comply with the terms of any easement or franchise agreement to which it is a party, and applicable state law when it conducts work on its utility easements. Generally, WCID110's rights to use the area covered by the easement are superior to the property owner's rights. However, WCID110 tries to minimize any damage or inconvenience to property owners when reasonable and practical.