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Bromsgrove | Redditch | Wyre Forest

North Worcestershire Water Management

Maintenance of watercourses and ditches

You are by law a 'riparian owner' of any watercourse within or next to the boundaries of your property. If the watercourse is at the edge of your property, you will normally be responsible up to the centre of the channel.

riparian owner a is on the left and riparian owner b is on the right with a watercourse (brook) running dircetly in between them. A red verital dotted line indicates the central point of the river where riparian owners are responsible for up until the central point

Riparian owners have a number of rights and responsibilities which include;

  • Allowing the flow of water without obstructing, polluting or diverting, or affecting the right of others;
  • Maintaining the bed and banks of the river, including maintenance of vegetation and the removal of debris and animal carcasses, even if it did not originate from your land;
  • Accepting flood waters through your land, even if caused by inadequate channel, however you may protect your home

Under the Land Drainage Act 1991 (and where necessary, as amended by the Flood & Water Management Act 2010), North Worcestershire Water Management is authorised to deal with obstructions in an ordinary watercourse.

Ditches that run alongside the highway generally do not form part of the highway and remain the responsibility of the land owner or occupier. However, where ditches have been dedicated as forming part of the highway, or where the ditch was constructed for the purpose of draining the highway, then the Highway Authority will be responsible. Under common law, a property owner is the riparian owner of any highway ditch within or adjacent to the property.

If an obstruction is likely to impede the flow of the water, a notice may be served upon the riparian owner(s) to clear the watercourse or ditch.

There are several ecological legislative drivers and policies, which may impact upon the work which needs to be carried out. You may wish to consult the Ecology page on Worcestershire County Council's website page or visit the Natural England website.

Examples of good watercourses and ditches can be seen below.

Report an issue with a watercourse and or ditch

We are currently dealing with an increased volume of enquiries following several months of higher than average rainfall. As a result, we are currently prioritising reports of internal flooding. This means we may not be able to respond to or investigate reports of external flooding at this time.

Please be assured that any reports of external flooding will be formally logged, and we will aim to be in contact within 8 weeks. Instances of flooding on the Highway should be reported to Worcestershire County Council via their web page report drainage and flooding on a highway.

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