Although you may not have previously realised, if you own land which is adjacent to a watercourse or land which has a watercourse running through or underneath it, you are by law considered to be a 'Riparian Owner'.
As well as certain rights to the watercourse, riparian owners have their own duties and responsibilities which they are legally obliged to fulfil. These apply equally to local authorities when they are the landowner. The aim of these responsibilities is to help manage flood risk and protect the environment.
You are a riparian owner if...
If you have an ordinary watercourse or a main river running through your land, underneath it or along the boundary of your property you are likely to be the riparian owner for that stretch of watercourse (unless the watercourse is known to be owned by someone else).
If the land on the other side of the watercourse is not in your ownership, you are presumed to be the joint riparian owner together with the landowner on the other side. In the case of joint riparian ownership, each party is presumed to own up to the centre line of the watercourse and therefore is responsible up to this point.
The maintenance and clearance of ordinary watercourses is vital to local flood risk management and we cannot emphasise enough the importance of regular maintenance.
If you fail to maintain the free flow of a watercourse, and flooding occurs as a result, you could face legal action.
A riparian owner may not carry out any work, other than general cleaning and routine maintenance (such as the removal of weeds or debris) in or adjacent to a watercourse without the consent of the regulating body.