Drainage ditch owners are being urged to take action now to prevent flooding when wintry weather descends.
People with a watercourse, ditch, stream, river or culvert on or next to their land are known as ‘riparian owners’. They are responsible for maintaining the watercourses to ensure they are not a flood risk to other people or properties.
Removing vegetation, grass, weeds, shrubs and other debris helps water to run freely and prevent flooding.
Following feedback from parish councils and community groups, the county council has updated its guides to riparian ownership and responsibilities. A new leaflet, short film, posters and more detailed guidance are available online.
The Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group, a volunteer-led wildlife charity on the Manhood Peninsula, manages ditches and ponds for people and wildlife.
Jane Reeve, from the group, said: “Riparian responsibility is important for the management of water to prevent flooding, which affects people’s lives and wellbeing, and for wildlife which is adversely affected by pollution and rapid water level rises.
“By gently managing ditches and waterways in the autumn, when they are dry and accessible, flood-risk can be reduced.
“Leaving some vegetation on the banks is the key, allowing plant roots and some growth to hold the soil and prevent erosion. Wherever wetlands are sympathetically managed for drainage improvement, wildlife moves in and the environment is improved and can become an attractive feature.”
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: westsussex.gov.uk/ditchtheproblem