Watercourses - riparian responsibilities

You are known as a ‘Riparian Owner’ if you have a watercourse, ditch, stream, river or culvert within or adjacent to your property boundary.  In some cases, a watercourse may be unowned in which case the adjacent owners are responsible up to the centre line. You can check your deeds for your property if you are not clear about ownership.  

As a riparian owner, you have the responsibility to maintain the flow of water through or adjacent to your property. These are set out in the Public Health Act 1936, the Land Drainage Acts of 1991 & 1994 (as amended by the Flood & Water Management Act 2010), the Water Resources Act 1991. We as a council have our own local land drainage byelaws.

We work on behalf of West Sussex County Council (the Lead Local Flood Authority) to identify where watercourses in this District and Chichester District have become obstructed and inform and advise riparian owners of this and if necessary, carry out enforcement of riparian responsibilities.  

For more information, please see our rights and responsibilities of living by a watercourse website page and relevant West Sussex County Council and EA produced documents.