In common law, a riparian owner owns land adjoining a watercourse and therefore has certain rights and responsibilities.
It is important watercourses do not become overgrown and are kept free from debris. Watercourses have the capacity to carry significant volumes of water in times of flooding and if this capacity is reduced, flood risk to people and property can be increased. You can get guidance on maintenance of an ordinary watercourse
Responsibilities of a riparian owner
Unless it is owned by somebody else, the law presumes you own the land up to the centre point of the watercourse. This means that you and your neighbouring land owner are responsible for the maintenance and water flow within the watercourse where it borders your land.
It is not the responsibility of Essex County Council, Essex Highways or the district council to carry out maintenance or improvement works in these situations.
Liabilities of the riparian owner
If you do not maintain the watercourse or any asset within it, we can request that you do so. Should you fail to do so we may maintain them for you and take legal action to seek to recover our costs.
Please remember that if you do not carry out your legal responsibilities you could face legal action.