There are five bodies with responsibilities for land drainage within Somerset. These are;
The responsible body for land drainage is determined by the clarification of the watercourse and/or the area in which the watercourse is located. There are three broad classifications of water courses and drainage infrastructure and these are summarised in the table below along with the responsible bodies.
These are designated by the Environment Agency and include all or part of The River Parrett, The River Axe, The River Brue, the Huntspill River, The King Sedgemoor Drain, The Sowy River, Cannington Brook and Durleigh Brook.
Ordinary Water Courses
These can be a river, stream, ditch (including dry ditches), drain, rhyne, dyke, sewer (other than a public sewer) or any passage through which water flows (culverts) which does not form part of a Main River.
The responsibilities are split between 4 bodies depending on the nature and location of the issue:
Drains and other structures taking water from the Highway
Somerset County Council Highways
Sedgemoor District Council has no enforcement powers relating to Ordinary Water Courses. Investigation and enforcement of problems relating to Ordinary Water Courses are undertaken by either Somerset County Council (Lead Local Flood Authority) or the Internal Drainage Board if it is in their area.
Sedgemoor District Council maintains a number of flood relief schemes and drainage infrastructure within its district. These are located at various locations within the district. The Council would investigate any problems relating to a flood relief scheme that it maintains or drainage problems from any land that it maintains.
However under the Land Drainage Act 1991 Sedgemoor District Council has permissive powers to undertake works on an ordinary watercourse to alleviate flooding. Normally the use of such powers would only be considered where the benefits of a scheme outweigh the capital costs.
The Environment Agency, is responsible for flood defence in England and Wales. It has powers under the Water Resources Act 1991, Land Drainage Act 1991, and the Environment Act 1995 which provide for:
The Environment Agency can be contacted using the following details:
Telephone: 03708 506 506
Website: Environment Agency
Somerset County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 for Somerset including Sedgemoor's area. As the Lead Local Flood Authority they have various responsibilities:
Somerset County Council Local Lead Flood Authority can be contacted using the following details:
Telephone: 0300 123 2224
Website: Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council Highways Team have responsibility for maintaining highway drainage and investigating any problems relating to highway drainage.
Somerset County Council Highways Team can be contacted using the following details:
Telephone: 0300 123 2224
Internal Drainage Boards are the land drainage authority for the large areas of low lying land throughout Somerset. They have powers to undertake works on any watercourses within their area, other than "main rivers". The main drainage channels, known as rhynes, form a major network into which other 'field' ditches, maintained by the landowner/farmer can successfully drain. Under the Land Drainage Acts 1991 & 1994 IDBs are responsible for:
The Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium can be contacted using the following details:
Telephone: 01278 789906
Website: Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium
If you own land or property adjacent to a river or watercourse you are likely to be a 'Riparian Owner' and as such have rights and responsibilities associated with the watercourse. If the watercourse forms a boundary between properties generally you are responsible to the centre of the watercourse. Your legal duties include;
Further information on riparian ownership can be found on the Environment Agency's website.