Waterside living

Do you have a river, stream, ditch or culvert running through, or alongside your property?

If so, you are probably responsible for its maintenance and this guide is for you.

You can also download a copy of the water living leaflet to refer to. Please be aware that this guide is due for an update. For the most recent advice on clearance of obstructions, please read the Waterside Living guide information.

Waterside Living guide

The Waterside Living guide was compiled in 2014, and is currently under review.

Over the past six years, Natural Flood Management has been gaining even more success and evidence as a tool in the box of flood risk management. Through mimicking nature’s own methods of managing water, downstream impacts of flooding can be reduced through a wide range of land and watercourse management techniques including ‘woody debris dams’ designed to slow and hold back water in times of high flow.

Pending revision of Waterside Living, please bear in mind that obstructions in watercourses can be a good thing and do not always need removal as stated in the guide.

The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and local land drainage by-laws state that it is the riparian owner’s responsibility to ‘maintain the watercourse and to clear any obstructions (natural or otherwise) so the normal flow of water is not impeded’. However:

  • Obstructions, whether natural or man-made, may have a positive effect by slowing peak flows and reducing flood risk downstream whilst creating essential wildlife habitat.
  • Removing obstructions can occasionally increase the flood risk to communities downstream or cause erosion and unexpected damage to the watercourse.
  • Where the obstruction does not create a flood risk, block key infrastructure such as road culverts or cause erosion, it may be preferable to leave the material in situ.
  • Careful consideration should be given to the downstream implications of both removing obstructions and leaving them in situ. Environment Agency or Land Drainage consent may also be required for the works. If in doubt, seek professional advice from the Environment Agency, Gloucestershire County Council Flood Risk Management or your District Council. Visit the useful contacts section for details.

For more information on Natural Flood Management, please see the Catchment Based Approach website.

Back to main flood guide

Page updated: 04/12/2020 Page updated by: Flooding Team

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