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Land drainage

Who manages land drainage to prevent an increase in flood risk

Essex County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) with responsibility for reducing the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses and to work closely with other organisations.

You can find more information on their duties as a LLFA on

About land drainage

Land drainage is the disposal of rainwater, achieved by a network of watercourses of various types.

Drainage onto the highway

Essex Highways only deals with surface water drainage on the roads and pavements it is responsible for on the publicly maintainable highway.

Road problems or flooding issues can be reported online on the Report a Highway Problem page on

The flooding of rivers, streams and coastal areas is the responsibility of the Environment Agency. For flood warnings in Essex please visit the Flood Warnings Information Service

Some drainage outlets are also the responsibility of the appropriate water company.

Land drainage on private land

Private land owners are responsible for the drainage from their land and have a duty to ensure drainage ditches on their land are kept clear to ensure roads and pavements do not become flooded.

Roadside ditches

The owner (known as the 'riparian  owner) of any ditches next to a road is normally the adjoining landowner, as the highway boundary invariably lies along the top of the bank closest to the road.

Although the road may drain into the ditch, the landowner is responsible for maintaining it. If a ditch causes flooding on a highway Essex Highways is likely to take action against the riparian owner.

If Essex Highways have piped the ditch under their highway powers, they become responsible for its maintenance.

Useful contacts

Environment Agency

Check for flooding on GOV.UK

General enquiries: 08708 506 506 

24 hour incident hotline (to report an incident e.g. pollution): 0800 80 70 60 

Floodline (for flood warnings): 0345 988 1188

Essex County Council

Land Drainage Team

Watercourse Regulation 01245 430496

Essex Highways

West Area Highways Manager: 0845 6037621


Additional information

Land drainage - frequently asked questions

River Bourn Flood Study at Ashdon (PDF) [6MB]