Land drains and watercourses

Responsibility for drainage in our urban communities is complex and shared between ourselves, local authorities, Natural Resources Wales and local land or property owners. Occasionally, this means that we add a pipeline to our maps that isn’t our responsibility.

Land drains and watercourses carry ground water and surface water away from our natural landscapes. Many of these drains and streams will have been piped under our towns and cities when development took place.

In most cases these drainage systems will be the responsibility of the land owner whose property they pass through, or who’s land they adjoin. These responsibilities are known as Riparian Rights and you can find further information about them on the Natural Resources Wales website.

Maps of the sewers that we maintain have been assembled over generations. In some cases we find that land drains, underground streams (culverted watercourses) and highway drains have been wrongly added to our maps. These additions were often made with good intentions, but they can cause confusion about who’s responsible for their maintenance.

To help confirm ownership of these pipes we’ll carry out a detailed investigation whenever our staff, or those of another drainage agency, report a potential mapping error to us. To ensure this is carried out fairly we aim to follow a national procedure in these cases, a copy of which can be found on the Water UK website.

Local authorities and Natural Resources Wales can report any errors they find by downloading and completing the NOF 029 - Application for Asset Status Change – Proforma. Investigations can take several months to complete, so it’s important that all available evidence is submitted with any application.

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NOF 029 - Application for Asset Status Change - Proforma

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