Who is responsible?

Find out who is responsible for what when it comes to flooding

There is no single organisation responsible for all flooding across Oxfordshire. Instead it’s a group approach with different organisations and landowners managing different types of flooding.

The table below shows exactly who is responsible for what in Oxfordshire, as well as useful contact details and when you may need to contact them.

Responsibilities for Urban Drainage

Responsibilities for Rural Drainage

Roles and Responsibilities

Riparian Owners

Riparian owners are responsible for maintaining the watercourse or ditch running through or adjacent to their land as well as the vegetation on the banks, in order to keep these clear and prevent flooding. Riparian owners can face legal action if the lack of maintenance of their watercourse causes flooding. For more information about responsibilities, read our Riparian Ownership and Flood Risk guide.

Land ownership is sometimes unknown, disputed or difficult to work out. To find out who owns certain parcels of land (and therefore whether or not they have a riparian responsibility), obtain copies of title registers and title plans use the online Land Registry services.

Town and Parish Councils/Communities

Town and Parish Councils as well as Communities both play an important role in managing flood risk at the community level. They can help gather information on areas at risk of flooding by reporting any flood incidents.
Communities and individuals at risk of flooding should prepare Community and Household Emergency Plans. In addition Communities and Parish or Town Councils can be crucial in raising additional funding for local flood defence measures and for undertaking regular maintenance.

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is responsible for flood risk management activities on main rivers across Oxfordshire, for regulating reservoir safety, and providing river flood warnings. They have the power to undertake work on main rivers to fix a flooding issue, but would charge this cost to the Riparian Owner.

Contact the Environment Agency if you are having a flooding issue from a main river or reservoir in Oxfordshire, or you wish to carry out work on a main river.

Tel: 0345 988 1188 or 0800 80 70 60

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Oxfordshire Highways

Oxfordshire Highways are responsible for fixing drainage and flooding issues on highways and roads across Oxfordshire. This includes blocked drains and gullies on the roads, however they are not normally responsible for ditches alongside roads. In most cases the responsibility is with the adjacent landowner.

Contact Oxfordshire Highways to report flooding on a highway, including blocked drains and gullies on roads.

Tel: 0345 310 1111

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Highways England

Highways England is responsible for drainage of the motorways and some of the A roads (trunk roads) in Oxfordshire. These are the M40, A34 or A43 (Oxfordshire to Northamptonshire border).

Contact Highways England for flooding issues on the roads listed above.

Tel: 0300 123 5000 (say "Report")

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Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council is responsible for coordinating the management of flood risk from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses. However this does not mean that they can or will undertake works to fix a flooding issue, but they can investigate to find out who the Riparian Owner is and therefore who is responsible; and advise on potential solutions. The cost of any works to fix these flooding issues will be charged back to the responsible person or organisation.

Contact Oxfordshire County Council to report surface water, groundwater or ordinary watercourse flooding.

District Councils

Oxfordshire’s district councils are responsible for reviewing flood risk in planning applications. They have the power to carry out works on ordinary watercourses to fix local flooding issues. The cost of these works would be charged back to the responsible person or organisation. They may also be able to provide sandbags during flooding incidents.

Contact your District Council for flood risk issues in planning applications.

Tel: See contact detail link below

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Thames Water Utilities

Oxfordshire water and sewerage companies are responsible for managing the flooding and flood risk from public sewers and water mains across the county. This includes making sure they can maintain essential water supply and sewerage services during a flood. They are also sometimes responsible for removing surface water from your property via the public sewer system for treatment.

Contact Thames Water for flooding from one of their burst water mains or sewers.

Tel: 0800 316 9800 (Select option 2 and then option 2 again)

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