Riparian Rights and Watercourses

Keeping our watercourses well maintained benefits the community as a whole. If an area experiences constant flooding, this becomes a nuisance to the community, can restrict access to property, makes every day living difficult and results in considerable expense and inconvenience for those that have been flooded.

There are various resources available including a leaflet and posters as well as more detailed guidance which can be sourced at:

If you have a watercourse, ditch, stream, river or culvert on or next to your land you are known as a “riparian owner”. Riparian owners are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of watercourses on their land to ensure to ensure that they are not a flood risk to other people or property. Riparian responsibilities for landowners under the law are to:


  • Ensure the flow of water is not obstructed or polluted.
  • Maintain the bottom and sides of the watercourse (including managing any trees and vegetation growing on the banks).
  • Remove any obstructions, such as rubbish, fallen branches and garden waste.
  • Maintain any structures (such as trash screens, culverts, weir and mill gates) on it.

Find out more about riparian ownership:


Review these two booklets - Ditch the Problem - Riparian Owners FAQ's