About local watercourses

Woking Borough contains a network of main rivers and small streams and ditches, known as ‘ordinary watercourses’. Main rivers are the responsibility of the Environment Agency and these include:

  • Hoe Stream
  • River Bourne (and its tributaries at Parley Brook and Knaphill Brook)
  • River Wey

Find out more about the Environment Agency’s responsibilities

Ordinary watercourses

An ‘ordinary watercourse’ is a channel of flowing water that is not linked to a main river network. These include small rivers, streams, land and roadside ditches, drains and culverts, cuts, dikes, sluices, sewers (other than public sewers within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991) and passages, through which water flows.

Private landowners with ordinary watercourses flowing through their land are traditionally called ‘riparian owners’, who are responsible for maintaining and dealing with any problems caused by the water flowing through their land.

Find out more about a riparian owner’s responsibilities

If an ordinary watercourse flows through land owned by Woking Borough Council, then our maintenance company, Serco, will carry out the necessary works to fix any blockages or flooding risk issues.

Report a council related drainage or flood risk issue

(We own public recreation grounds, open spaces and parks  and car parks.)

Works affecting ordinary watercourses

Riparian owners must apply to and obtain written consent from Surrey County Council if they wish to place or build anything, such as dams, weirs, mills, channel diversions, culverting or piping, which may affect the flow of their watercourse. 

Apply for ordinary watercourse works consent

Our enforcement responsibilities

We have the power under the Land Drainage Act 1991 to carry out work to prevent flooding and recharge the cost to the private riparian owner. 

We can:

  • inspect riparian owned ordinary watercourses
  • contact riparian owners to request repair and maintenance work and check it is completed
  • organise work along a watercourse where a number of riparian owners are involved
  • check that consent for work has been granted and it has been correctly completed.