Reporting drainage problems

The information below gives guidance on how to report drainage problems occurring in ditches and watercourses, highways, ground/surface water and in sewers. 

Ditches and watercourses

Main Rivers

Main Rivers are the watercourses shown on the Environment Agency Main River map web page. Responsibility lies with the riparian owner, however the Environment Agency has powers to undertake maintenance of Main Rivers. 

Ordinary Watercourses

Ordinary Watercourses include all ditches and watercourses not designated as Main Rivers by the Environment Agency. Responsibility lies with the riparian owner and enforcement is undertaken by us, on behalf of West Sussex County Council, the Lead Local Flood Authority. To report any drainage problems where enforcement may be required, please email                 

Internal Drainage District

The River Arun internal drainage district is an area where there is a special drainage need and it is currently managed by the Environment Agency. Further information about this can be found on the GOV.UK website page

Trunk roads

Drainage issues on trunk roads (road or section of road under the control of the Government) such as the A27, should be reported via the National Highways website.

Other public roads

Drainage issues on all other public roads in the district should be reported to the Highways department at West Sussex County Council.                

Groundwater and surface water

Flooding from groundwater and surface water should be reported on the West Sussex County Council website.       



Public sewers and lateral drains (drains that sit outside of the boundary of a property) are the responsibility of Southern Water Services Limited. Information on what to do in an emergency, including reporting sewer flooding can be found on the Southern Water website.  


Cesspits and drains serving only one property within the property boundary are the responsibility of the property owner. You can visit Southern Water for more information. 

An illustration of public and private sewer responsibilities can be found on the Ofwat website.