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Watercourses and ditches

Responsibility for ditches and watercourses is shared between the Environment Agency, Oxfordshire County Council, the district council and riparian owners.

Report a drainage problem

Owning land next to a river or stream

If you own land or property next to a river or other watercourse (such as a brook, beck or mill stream) you are a 'riparian owner'. This means that you should keep the watercourse clear of any obstruction. If you don't keep the watercourse clear you may receive a legal notice.

For advice on the rights and responsibilities of riparian owners visit the Environment Agency website

Environment Agency

TheĀ Environment Agency has a general responsibility for the main watercourses or rivers in the district. These include the:

  • River Thames, River Windrush, River Cherwell, and
  • their main tributaries such as Queen Emma's Dyke, Shill Brook, Coombe Brook and the Rivers Glyme and Dorn.

The Environment Agency maintains these main rivers or can serve 'notice' to make sure that riparian owners maintain them.

Council owned ditches and watercourses

Ditches and watercourses owned by the council are cleared regularly and are continually monitored. This work includes:

  • Every three months we inspect and clear all associated grids and culverts to stop the build up of leaves and rubbish which could cause a blockage in the drainage system
  • Inspecting ditches under private riparian ownership which may be a possible cause of flooding and, if required, contacting the riparian owner to remind them of their responsibilities.

Watercourse consent forms

To fill in the ordinary water course land drainage consent application form and read the guidance notes please: