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Sent on behalf of the Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance

Norfolk County Council, 31 August 2023 00:00

With bird nesting season over, people across Norfolk have a chance to do their bit to stop flooding and keep water flowing across their properties.

Small, simple steps that ensure water can drain away from your home can cut down the likelihood of flooding, starting with tasks as simple as keeping drains, ditches and watercourses clear and able to flow freely. After a year's growth, many ditches and watercourses will benefit from clearing branches, and cutting back new undergrowth. Now bird nesting season is over, early autumn is the prime time for property owners to put in a little work to keep their properties safe.

A build-up of flood water with nowhere to drain can quickly turn a minor incident into a disaster for the home. By starting off small, and checking drains for any blockages such as mud, leaves and stones, residents can take the first step towards mitigating the impact of flooding.

Outside the home, if residents spot any blocked or broken drains on Norfolk's highways, they can report it via, allowing Norfolk's Highways Team to clear them and keep our roads open.

Henry Cator, Chair of the Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance (NSFA), said: "The first line of defence against flooding is to stop it before it happens: keeping all of our waterways clear, right down to the smallest ditch, has a huge impact on floodwater's ability to drain away quickly. It may not seem like much, but keeping your own watercourses clear can protect your property and that of your neighbours, for just an afternoon's effort with shears and a spade."

When clearing a watercourse, ask yourself: could a fish swim through the ditch or waterway? If the answer is no, it needs clearing.

Cllr Eric Vardy, Norfolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "Everyone knows what can happen when drains are blocked, and our teams work closely with Anglian Water to keep the water flowing, but it's easy to forget that ditches and waterways work in exactly the same way. Blockages lead to floods, and when it's in a watercourse on your land, it's up to you to keep the water flowing. It's simple and straightforward, and not just about legal responsibilities: it's about protecting yourself, protecting your home and protecting your community." 

Under UK law, homeowners and landowners have a responsibility to keep watercourses on their property clear, even if only a few feet of the ditch passes through. 

These duties, sometimes referred to as Riparian responsibilities, do not show up on property searches, which can leave homeowners unaware of ditches near their house and of the important role they have to play in flood prevention. Ditches and watercourses can lie beyond the hedges or fences that the landowner may believe marks the edge of their boundary, when in fact homeowners have responsibility for them too. It is much better for homeowners to stop easily avoidable cases of flooding by ensuring water can flow freely through a ditch or stream, than a blocked waterway leading to a flood in their home.

This autumn, everyone is being urged to check ditches and watercourses on or adjacent to their property, to confirm what their responsibilities are, and to do their part to keep ditches clear. Even smaller watercourses which may be dry for most of the year play a key drainage role in wet weather. Find out more about Riparian responsibilities at

To report a flood, or find out more about how to prepare for flooding, visit

In an emergency, residents across Norfolk can report flooding by telephone via 0344 800 8013. If you are in immediate danger, dial 999 immediately.

The Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance (NSFA)

The Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance is a taskforce, brought together in early 2021, to work so that Norfolk communities and infrastructure are safer and more resilient to the risks of inland and coastal flooding. The Alliance includes, among others, the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, the Association of Drainage Authorities, the Water Management Alliance, Water Resources East, the Norfolk Resilience Forum, the Broads Authority and Norfolk's County, Borough, City, District and Parish Councils.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:46

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