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Managing the county's flood risk

Find out how we manage flood risk and minimise the impact of flooding incidents in County Durham. This page also explains what we're responsible for and what is the responsibility of our partners or property owners.

Drains and sewers

Road drains and gullies

We maintain road drains and gullies across the county's road network. Find out more, or report a problem with a road drain or gully.

Public sewers

Water companies are responsible for public sewers. Find out more on Public/household drains and sewers

Drains and sewers on private property

Property owners are responsible for drains and sewers within their property boundary. Find out more on Northumbrian Water: private drains and sewers.

Riverside property owners

If you own a property which has a watercourse, such as a stream or river, running through it or next to the property boundary you are a 'riparian' owner. You have certain legal rights and responsibilities. The Environment Agency has produced a guidance document that can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website: Riverside ownership: rights and responsibilities ('living on the edge').

Flood management plans

As the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) for County Durham, we work with partner agencies like Northumbria Water and the Environment Agency.

We carry out specific tasks associated with The Flood Risk Regulations 2009 and the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. We:

  • Develop, maintain and apply a local flood risk strategy.
  • Carry out risk assessments and identify flood risk areas.
  • Investigate all significant flooding.
  • Keep a register of flood defences.
  • Produce County Durham Surface Water Management Plan to manage flooding which happens as a result of heavy rainfall.

Full details of the surface water management plan are available below:


All large reservoirs are regulated under The Reservoirs Act 1975. They must be regularly inspected and maintained to reduce the risk of failure.

Along with our partners in the County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum (LRF), we are putting together a reservoir plan to respond to flooding incidents.

A specific plan for Tunstall Reservoir, Wolsingham is available below:

Icon for pdf Tunstall Reservoir emergency procedure leaftet (PDF, 394.7kb) ‚Äč


A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) provides a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal evolution and presents a policy framework to address these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner. In doing so, an SMP is a high-level document that forms an important part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) strategy for flood and coastal defence (Defra, 2001).

The SMP is a non-statutory, policy document for coastal defence management planning. It takes account of other existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements, and is intended to inform wider strategic planning. It does not set policy for anything other than coastal defence management.

Our Shoreline Management Plan can be found on North East Coastal Observatory reports under shoreline management plans and then River Tyne to Flamborough Head.

Contact us
Customer Services
03000 26 0000
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