Land drainage

Information about Land Drainage and Flooding

As a district council we have powers under the Land Drainage Act 1991. These powers are to prevent, mitigate and remediate flood damage for ordinary watercourses, and for managing flood risks as set out in existing planning laws. 

An ordinary watercourse is any natural or artificial channel above or below ground through which water flows, such as a river, brook, beck, ditch, mill stream or culvert. Main rivers are those classified on the official Environment Agency Main River Map

Riparian Owners

Under common law, a riparian owner is someone who has a watercourse within or adjacent to any boundary of their property. 

Where a watercourse is sited between two or more property boundaries each owner may be equally responsible.

Under the Flood and Water Management Act, riparian owners retain all the duties and responsibilities for watercourses on their land as set out in the Land Drainage Act.  

The Guidance for Riparian Owners in Northamptonshire has been produced by Northamptonshire County Council.

Water Companies 

Water Companies continue to be responsible for public sewers, and have a more formal role in the management of surface water. The main company for East Northamptonshire is Anglian Water.  


Detailed advice on flooding, prevention and guidance for responsible parties is available on Northamptonshire County Council's website.  

Northamptonshire County Council has developed a new online toolkit to assist communities, individuals, land owners, businesses and flood risk management authorities with improving county-wide flood resilience as part of the Defra Pathfinder Project.

If the flooding is an emergency contact Fire and Rescue by calling 999. This service is primarily responsible for saving life. They may also pump out floodwater from your property. During flooding, you should focus on the safety of yourself and others.

If the flooding is highway related use the Street Doctor service to report flooding relating to a highway such as blocked ditches, blocked drains or flooding on a road.

If the flooding is from a burst water main or sewer flooding contact your service provider - Anglian Water Services.

For all other flooding use County Council's online report form.  Please note that this service is not to be used in an emergency situation. They will endeavour to respond to your submission within 21 days.

This form can also be used to tell them about historic flooding that has affected your property or community. If you have photos or videos of flooding please email these to County Council at


It is important to note that at present there is no national database of which company a household has the building and contents insurance with. Therefore, it is important that you know where your documents are or at least who you are insured with so that you can contact them directly should you experience any flooding. For properties that are in a high risk area for flooding further insurance information is provided.