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Riparian owner rights

Last Modified October 19, 2015

A riparian owner has the right to protect their property against flooding from the watercourse and to prevent erosion of the watercourse banks or any structures.

Riparian owner responsibilities

As a riparian owner your responsibilities include the maintenance of your section of watercourse in order to avoid any obstruction of flow in the watercourse.

Consent must be obtained from us for any proposed work to the watercourse including maintenance, in accordance with the Land Drainage Bylaws.

Riparian Owners and the law

Your responsibilities are based on legislation:

  • The Public Health Act 1936
  • Environment Agency Land Drainage Byelaws 1981
  • The Land Drainage Acts of 1991 and 1994
  • Land Drainage Bylaws


The most common problems affecting watercourses are:

  • Failing to keep vegetation growth under control
  • Failing to obtain consent for any building, planting or alterations within nine metres of the bank
  • Disposal or storage of garden or domestic rubbish, waste on the banks of watercourses.


Implementation of legislation

In an effort to reduce the risk of flooding we aim to improve and maintain an effective watercourse system through a process of co-operation, liaison, advice and assistance wherever possible. Enforcement of legislation will only be used where necessary to resolve problems.

For more advice on your responsibilities and to discuss flooding or other drainage problems, please contact Engineering Services.


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