Unfortunately, it is a common mistake to think that the District Council maintains all watercourses. If you are a landowner you may be responsible for the maintenance of a watercourse or ditch.
Landowners are legally responsible for watercourses, including those designated as 'Ordinary Watercourses'. These include, rivers, streams, ditches, drains, cuts and culverts. If you are a landowner with land adjacent to or containing any of these forms of watercourses then you are legally defined to have 'Riparian Responsibilities' under the Land Drainage Acts of 1991 and 1994 and you have a duty to ensure the free flow of water. Failure to maintain watercourses could lead to flooding!
Flooding in the Arun District
Under the Water Resources Act 1991, the Environment Agency has additional responsibility to manage water flow and carry out flood defence works along watercourses specifically classified as 'Main River' or 'Critical Ordinary Watercourse'. In Arun, the Environment Agency also manage watercourses located within Internal Drainage Districts (See FAQs). Ultimately however, responsibility lies with the landowner, as with 'Ordinary' watercourses.
Arun District Council has no statutory duty with regards to land drainage, except where we are a landowner, and therefore have riparian responsibilities, in the same way as everybody else has. We do however have permissive powers to ensure that the flow of water in 'Ordinary Watercourses' is maintained, and that landowners with riparian responsibilities undertake their duties.
West Sussex County Council as a Highway's Authority, are responsible for watercourses which were constructed to solely drain the public highway. This does not include all roadside ditches as a majority of these primarily served a land drainage function and therefore are the responsibility of the adjoining landowner.
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