Flood risk management responsibilities

What responsibilities does the council, the Environment Agency, drainage boards, water companies, businesses and residents have in managing flood risk.

Who is responsible for flood risk in the East Riding?

The responsibility for managing flood risk lies with organisations such as the council, the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards and water companies, but also with private individuals, property and business owners.

All risk management authorities mentioned above have a duty to cooperate with each other and to share information to deliver more effective partnership flood risk management to the benefit of their communities.

The following information summarises the responsibilities for the respective risk management authorities.

For more detailed information you may wish to view Section 4 of the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, local authorities were given new responsibilities and powers in relation to flood risk management, particularly in respect of managing surface water flooding.

This includes the creation of the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) role for all unitary and upper-tier authorities, such as East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

As the LLFA, our responsibilities include:

  • developing, maintaining and applying a local flood risk management strategy

  • responding to planning applications

  • producing and maintaining a flood risk asset register

  • issuing land drainage consents on ordinary watercourses and carrying out enforcement

  • investigating significant local flooding events.

As well as being the LLFA for the area, we are a Coastal Erosion Risk Management Authority, a Land Drainage Authority, and an operational role as a Category 1 (Emergency) Responder. As a Highway Authority, we have powers to drain the local highway network.

In regard to flood risk, we have the lead responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from:

  • surface water flooding - flooding directly from rainfall or snow but also generally taken to include local overland flooding, including smaller ordinary watercourses (where there is no internal drainage district)

  • groundwater flooding - caused when rainwater water filters into the ground and moves to another location and then emerges or ‘springs’ from the ground in an uncontrolled way. This is often seen in areas where there are large chalk escarpments such as the Yorkshire Wolds.

Whilst lead responsibilities are set out in legislation, at a local level we, in agreement with other agencies, have taken on additional undertakings to provide an improved service across the area. This includes taking on the development of tidal and fluvial flood alleviation schemes.

Environment Agency (EA)

The EA has the lead responsibility for managing risk from rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea. It also has an operational role in respect of main rivers, the sea and reservoirs and is also a coastal erosion risk management authority This includes constructing and maintaining river and coastal defences, working with the Met Office to provide flood forecasting and warning information to the public, responding to flood emergencies, regulating and enforcing works on main rivers and advising on planning.

More information on what the Environment Agency does is available on the following websites:

Environment Agency (external website)

We also advise those at risk of flooding to sign up for flood warnings and alerts:

GOV.UK - Sign-up for flood warnings (external website)

Water Companies

Unlike other risk management authorities, water and sewerage companies are private businesses rather than public authorities. In regard to flood risk management, these companies are responsible for managing the risk of flooding from the public sewerage system.

A sewer is a purpose made drain that serves two or more properties; the sewer is usually an underground pipe.

The sewer usually has one of three functions in dealing with the following types of water:

  • Foul – Designed to remove domestic, commercial or industrial waste water

  • Surface – Designed to remove rainwater

  • Combined – Designed to remove foul and surface water together.

Most sewers are now maintained by water and sewerage companies. If you are connected to a public sewer about half of your water bill pays for this service including disposal of waste water.

If you are experiencing a problem with the sewer it is likely that your water company is responsible for carrying out works to resolve this. If you believe an issue is related to the public sewer you should contact your local water company. In the East Riding of Yorkshire this is mainly Yorkshire Water, however, some communities to the south of the river Ouse are served by Severn Trent Water. If you are unsure who your water company is you should check your water bill. Contact details are shown below:

Yorkshire Water (external website)
Tel: 0845 1 24 24 24

Severn Trent Water (external website)
Tel: 0800 783 4444

Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs)

IDBs are independent public bodies responsible for managing water levels in low-lying areas. They are the land drainage authority within their districts and their functions include supervising land drainage and flood defence works on ordinary watercourses within their areas.

There are 14 IDBs in the East Riding:

  • Beverley and North Holderness Drainage Board

  • Foss (2008) Drainage Board

  • Black Drain Drainage Board

  • Danvm Drainage Commissioners

  • Goole Fields District Drainage Board

  • Goole and Airmyn IDB

  • Cowick and Snaith IDB

  • Dempster IDB

  • Rawcliffe IDB

  • Reedness and Swinefleet IDB

  • Isle of Axholme and North Nottinghamshire Water Level Management Board

  • South Holderness IDB

  • Ouse and Humber Drainage Board

  • Thorntree IDB.

A map of the IDBs and their contact details can be found on the Association of Drainage Authorities website:

Association of Drainage Authorities - IDBs (external website)

What responsibilities do residents and businesses have?

If you or your business owns land or property through which a river, stream or watercourse passes you are a riparian owner. Furthermore, where a watercourse forms a boundary with your property it is likely that you, as the adjacent landowner, have riparian responsibilities up to the centre line of the watercourse (unless compelling evidence such as property deeds suggests otherwise).

Riparian owners have an important part to play in the East Riding and we encourage our residents, businesses, and landowners to consider the guidance available and ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as riparian owners if applicable.

Updated national guidance for the responsibilities as a riparian owner has been published on the government website by the Environment Agency. The guidance includes information on permits or consents you may need if carrying out works on or near a watercourse. By following the guidance, you can not only help to reduce the risk of flooding but also play a part in preventing pollution and protecting wildlife.

If you are unsure if you are a riparian owner, check the deeds to the property or contact your landlord.

To view the latest guidance on riparian responsibilities visit:

GOV.UK - Owning a watercourse (external website)

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