Ditch Maintenance – Riparian Responsibilities

As we continue through winter, an important note on keeping ditches clear…

The Land Drainage Act 1991, General Description:

A watercourse must be maintained by its owner in such a condition that the free flow of water is not impeded. The riparian owner must accept the natural flow from upstream but need not carry out work to cater for increased flows resulting from some types of works carried out upstream, for example a new housing development.

If a riparian owner fails to carry out his responsibilities under the Land Drainage Act, or if anyone else causes a watercourse to become blocked or obstructed, the County and District Councils have powers of enforcement by serving a notice under the Act. If this is ignored, the Council concerned may carry out the necessary work itself and then recharge the person responsible for the full cost incurred. The District Council normally implements these powers but the County Council will deal with problems that affect the highway. The person responsible may also be prosecuted for nuisance under the Public Health Act 1936.

Please click here for a useful article summarising the rights and responsibilities of landowners.

The Environment Agency have also published a useful guide to riparian responsibilities here

Please see attached briefing note from Wiltshire council:


Please find contact details for Wiltshire council drainage team, plus other useful information here.