Land drainage and flood risk management


It is important that watercourses are maintained to ensure that they have maximum capacity and efficiency to convey water and therefore cope during adverse weather.

If you own land or property next to a river, stream or ditch you are a ‘riparian landowner’.

The responsible party for a watercourse is generally the riparian landowner. Where a boundary between two landowners is defined in the deeds as a watercourse, a landowner owns up to the centre of that watercourse, and as such is responsible for its maintenance.

The Environment Agency provides guidance on the rights and reponsibilities of riparian landowners.

Role of the council

Lancaster City Council has responsibility for maintaining watercourses and defences which the council owns, or has a legal obligation to maintain. Our work includes:

  • Maintaining council-owned pumping stations
  • Undertaking watercourse maintenance
  • Designing, planning and project managing Environment Agency funded flood risk management projects

Role of the Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is responsible for carrying out maintenance, improvement or construction work on main rivers to manage flood risk.

Planning applications

Our engineering team is consulted on all major planning applications and comments on the proposals and their likely effectiveness in managing flood risk both on and off site. It is crucial that development does not have negative impacts on flood risk in the Lancaster district.

The Environment Agency provides guidance on flood risk assessment for planning applications.

Please contact if you have any queries about planning proposals and what we expect from applicants.

Flood risk management

The Environment Agency has permissive powers to manage flood risk from main rivers and the sea.

Lancaster City Council is the risk management authority for the district and can design and submit flood risk management scheme proposals for flood risk management from sources other than main rivers. We are also the coastal protection authority for the district and take the lead in managing flood and coastal erosion risk management in the district, as well as coastal monitoring throughout Morecambe Bay.

Lancashire County Council is the lead local flood authority for the county and has permissive powers to manage flood risk from ordinary watercourses, highways, surface water and ground water.

United Utilities is the water authority for the area and manages flood risk from sewers.

Last updated: 25 October 2017