What is a watercourse?
There are many alternative words for a watercourse (ditch, stream, river, brook, channel, canal etc) which, in general terms, means any channel that conveys water.
Who is responsible for carrying out works?
Anyone that has a watercourse either within their land is responsible for the maintenance, this responsibility may even extend outside of their property boundary (fence, hedge etc) dependant upon location. Land Drainage for any type of watercourse is under Riparian Law.
Over time, and due to location, some of these watercourses may have been piped (culverted). Although piped systems don't cause immediate problems if well constructed, development increases, improved efficiency of upstream systems and changing climate can lead to these pipes being a restriction as flows exceed their original design.
In order to pipe any watercourse within your land, express permission from the Environment Agency should be sought. Often, only the essential sections required for access or due to impending encroachment would obtain approval. Piping of any watercourse (irrespective of its previous usage) is not permitted and restoration of the open watercourse may be enforced at the landowners expense.
What do we do?
Working in close cooperation with the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council and Surrey Heath Borough Council undertakes a general supervisory role of Land Drainage throughout the Borough. We have close working relationships with major land owners within the Borough, also with Natural England and Surrey Wildlife Trust as management authorities for many open spaces.
As we all live in the real world, we're all aware that things aren't perfect. The Council doesn't have the manpower or funding to have immediate response to the recent flooding issues. In 2006, 2007 and 2009 we have experienced periods of excessive and unprecidented rainfall, however, the knowledge gained from these rainfull events is under contant evaluation and can require extensive research before solutions can be sought without detrimental effect to other parts of the borough.
We will try to help where we can but the type of support the Council is able to offer will be restricted.