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Watercourses and ditches

Responsibility for watercourses and ditches is shared between the Environmental Agency, the District Council and riparian owners.

Report a drainage problem

Environment Agency responsibilities

The Environment Agency has a general responsibility for the major watercourses (main rivers) in the District. These include the River Thames, Windrush, Leach, Churn, Ampney Brook, Coln, Dikler, Evenlode, Avon and Stour.

The Environment Agency maintains these main rivers or can serve 'notice' to ensure that riparian owners maintain them.

Ditches maintained by Cotswold District Council

Ditches and watercourses owned by the council are cut back and cleared annually and are continually monitored. This includes inspecting and clearing all associated grids to culverts.

As the local authority, we also inspect ditches under private riparian ownership that have been identified as a possible cause of flooding and, where applicable, will contact the riparian owner to remind them of their responsibilities.

Cotswold district council maintain the following ditches which total about 4300 metres - please see the maps below for the locations of the ditches:

Riparian owners

If you own land or property next to a river or other watercourse (such as a brook, beck or mill stream) you are a riparian owner. This means that you should keep the watercourse clear of any obstruction and if you don't you can be served a legal notice. For more advice on the rights and responsibilities of riparian owners, please:

Riparian owners toolkit

We have produced a Riparian Owners Toolkit which provides a guide to the watercourse, ownership and maintenance issues associated with the riparian environments in our communities and how to improve resilience against potential future flooding. Please:

Watercourse consent forms

To fill in the ordinary water course land drainage consent application form and read the guidance notes please:

Flood Water Management Act 2010

On the 6th April 2012 paragraphs 26,27,31,32(1), (2), (3), (5), (6) and (7) 33 and 34 of schedule 2 of the Act came into force in both England and Wales. These paragraphs amend the Land Drainage Act 1991. These changes have:

  • Transferred the Environment Agency's responsibility for flood defence consents and enforcement powers under sections 23, 24 and 25 of the Land Drainage Act 1991 (LDA) to Lead Local Flood Authorities.
  • Removed the following powers from the Environment Agency in relation to ordinary watercourses:
    • concurrent flood risk management powers (section 8 of the LDA)
    • default powers in relation to flooding (section 9(1) of the LDA) and
    • enforcement powers in relation to watercourse, bridge or drainage maintenance obligations (section 21 of the LDA)
  • Amended the prohibition on obstructions to ordinary watercourses to preclude the erection of any culvert without prior consent, and allows the relevant authority to attach reasonable conditions to a consent issued under section 23 of the LDA; and
  • Have Removed the powers to require works for maintaining flow of watercourses from district councils (section 25 of LDA).

If you have any questions about section 23 and 25 of the Land Drainage Act, please:

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