Riparian ownership

If there is a watercourse on, under or next to your property, you are known as a riparian owner. As a riparian owner you have a role to play in managing flood risk and are responsible for maintaining the watercourse.

A watercourse is any natural or artificial channel above or below ground through which water flows, such as a river, brook, ditch, ghyll or stream (which may be piped or culverted in sections).

You must ensure that water can flow freely within the watercourse and without obstruction that may increase the risk of flooding.

Certain types of work within or next to a watercourse may require consent from East Sussex County Council, the internal drainage board or the Environment Agency.

Your responsibilities include:

  • Clearing any silt and debris, including rubbish.
  • Managing vegetation within the channel.
  • Ensuring the flow of water is not obstructed.

You have the right to:

  • Protect your property from flooding.
  • Protect your land from erosion.

You must not:

  • Dispose of waste such as grass cuttings into the watercourse.
  • Fill in, obstruct, bridge or pipe the watercourse without consent.

Contact us

If you have any questions about riparian ownership, please contact the Flood Risk Management Team on: 01273 481421

Environment Agency guide for riparian owners