Who is Responsible for Ditches?


Ditch (Photo credit: Ben Bunch)

Extract from the Hampshire County Council website: highways-drainage/your-responsibilities           “Responsibilities of owners of property adjoining a river, stream, ditch or other watercourse……

If you own land adjoining a watercourse, you have certain rights and responsibilities. In legal terms you are a ‘riparian owner’. (A watercourse is any natural or artificial channel through which water flows, such as a river, brook, beck, or mill stream.)

Watercourse1You can read more about this in a leaflet produced by HCC ‘Landowners flood risk guidance’ explaning your rights and responsibilities.

Some of your responsibilities include:

  • maintaining river beds and banks;
  • allowing the flow of water to pass without obstruction;
  • controlling invasive alien species such as Japanese knotweed.

Your rights have been established in common law for many years. However there are some circumstances in which these rights may be affected by other law.

There are also activities for which you will need permission from a third party – such as your local authority or the Environment Agency. These can include bank protection works and the construction of culverts, bridges or outfalls to the watercourse.

Who is Responsible for Roadside Ditches?

The riparian owner is usually the owner of roadside ditches. Even if a ditch is outside of the property boundary ownership is remains with the adjacent landowner as riparian owner. It does not make any difference that the road drains into the ditch/watercourse.

There are exceptions to this rule which are when the Highway Authority has specifically constructed and maintained the ditch.

If you are in doubt about riparian ownership contact us or your District Council.

What Sewers am I Responsible for?

You are responsible for private sewers and these should be shown in your property deeds.

You are also responsible for the sewer that connects your property to the public sewer.

For further information contact Southern Water or Thames Water.

Who is responsible for culverts which run under or within the highway?

Hampshire County Council is responsible for culverts and most of the bridges over watercourses and rivers associated with the highway. There are exceptions where bridges are privately owned such as those managed by British Waterways.

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