Riparian, just what is Riparian?
It sounds a bit Eastern European or perhaps its a Linux Distribution (if you are in to that sort of thing). But no it’s something of which we all really need to get our heads around. Simply put, if you have a watercourse (a river, stream, ditch, drain, culvert or pipe) through which water flows, that runs through, underneath or alongside your property then you might be a “Riparian Owner”. Being a Riparian Owner it is up to you to ensure that water flows freely along that section of watercourse for which you bear responsibility. Now that can be quite onerous and costly if that watercourse is blocked or impeded and you have to make a repair.
During the Autumn the north of the country suffered very heavy downfalls that inundated our rivers and watercourses causing flooding of homes and gardens to unprecedented levels. Whilst in Sutton Ward we were fortunate to escape the worst of the flooding we saw rivers running high and flooding of roads and gardens. It was something of a wake up call for our rural communities and focussed minds on the state of the watercourses carrying floodwater away from our homes. Some of us it transpires are indeed Riparian Owners and have a responsibility to ensure that our watercourses are fit for purpose.
So, are you a Riparian Owner? Check out this excellent write up by West Sussex Council, that should help you to decide.
So, on reading you will either be mighty relieved or perhaps a little concerned. If the latter then talk to neighbours, check your deeds, talk to the Water Level Management Board and Councils to find out more.
One thing for sure is that with climate change the watercourses around our towns, villages and properties are going to be increasingly relied upon to keep floodwater at bay.
Image is of a local drainage ditch in need of maintenance by the Riparian landowner.