Who is responsible for a watercourse running through my land?


The primary responsibility for the maintenance of any watercourse rests with the owner of that watercourse. This will USUALLY be the owner of the land adjoining that watercourse. Where the watercourse divides the separate ownership of two parcels of land, each land owner has a responsibility up to the middle of the watercourse. These are called “riparian” watercourses.

Where a channel is marked as an internal drainage board’s maintained drain, that board’s byelaws apply to it, and the board will often undertake required drainage works. The Land Drainage Act 1991, under which the Drainage Boards operate, however, enables them to act BUT DOES NOT REQUIRE THEM to carry out drainage works. These are known as permissive powers.