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Flood risk management responsibilities

The responsibility for flood risk management lies with a number of organisations depending on the type of flood risk.

River flooding

Rivers flood when the amount of water in them exceeds the flow capacity of the channel.

The Environment Agency has direct responsibility for designated Main Rivers including the River Tame, River Rea, River Cole (downstream of Formans Road), The Bourn, Bourn Brook, Wood Brook, Stonehouse Brook, Hawthorne Brook, Hockley Brook, Perry Brook, Plants Brook, Hatchford Brook and Westerley Brook.

Birmingham City Council has responsibility for all other rivers and watercourses which are termed ‘Ordinary Watercourses’, however many are the responsibility of landowners.

Landowners who own land bounding upon a river or other body of water are, under common law, riparian owners. Riparian owners responsibilities include the maintenance of the bank and bed of that section of watercourse, in order to avoid any obstruction of flow in the watercourse. 

Further details of this can be found by viewing the Environment Agency’s guidance document on riverside ownership rights and responsibilities.

Surface water flooding

Surface water is rainwater which is on the surface of the ground and has not entered a watercourse, drainage system or sewer. Surface water flooding occurs where high rainfall exceeds the drainage capacity in an area. Surface water cannot then enter the system or infiltrate into the ground and the drainage network overflows, with manholes surcharging.

One of the most obvious and immediate forms of surface water runoff is on the highway. In the case of Birmingham City Council, maintenance of highway drainage is undertaken by Amey, the Council’s Maintenance and Management Partner.

Report flooding and drainage problems on roads and pavements to us

Sewer flooding

Sewer flooding occurs when sewers are overwhelmed by heavy rainfall or when they become blocked.

Individual property and land owners have responsibility for their own piped drainage infrastructure. Where piped drainage becomes part of the general shared infrastructure it is generally adopted as public and becomes the responsibility of Severn Trent Water.

Sewer flooding problems can be reported to Severn Trent Water on 0800 783 4444.

Groundwater flooding

Groundwater flooding occurs when water levels in the ground rise above surface levels or into the basement of buildings.

Under the Flood and Water Management Act, Birmingham City Council is the management authority for local groundwater flood risk.