Living next to a watercourse

Riparian owners

An ordinary watercourse is any natural or artificial channel through which water flows. For example, a river, stream or ditch.

What is a riparian owner?

If you have an ordinary watercourse that:

  • Runs along the boundary of your property or land, or
  • Runs through your land

You are a 'riparian owner' or 'joint riparian owner' with your neighbour. You have responsibilities and rights regarding the watercourse.

What if I have a hedge, fence or wall at the edge of my property?

You are still a riparian owner if you have a watercourse on the other side of your boundary hedge, fence or wall.  

What if I live on a housing development and pay a service fee to maintain communal areas?

The fee can cover maintenance of any watercourse on the development. The maintenance company is then responsible. You should check your maintenance contract to make sure though.