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A variety of organisations are either responsible for drainage or have powers to ensure that drains are maintained in a good condition. The following are guidelines only and do not apply in all instances

The majority of foul sewers that serve two or more properties are the responsibility of Wessex Water even though a substantial number of these are in private gardens.

Surface water pipes that are not a watercourse are the responsibility of Wessex Water, The Highway Authority or the properties draining to that pipe. There are no easy to follow rules however Wessex Water has reasonably accurate records which can be viewed at MDC or at Wessex Water offices.

Wessex Water: Contact Us

Watercourses and Land Drainage pipes

This covers all open watercourses and previously open watercourses that have been piped.

All watercourses including culverts and land drains are usually the responsibility of the owner of the land through which they flow. If there is a different owner on each side then the ownership is to the centre.

For larger watercourses the Environment Agency is responsible for the water flow and have enforcement powers relating to the banks and structures that may impact on the flow. Environment Agency

For smaller watercourses including ditches Somerset County Council has enforcement powers that can be used to make landowners maintain the effectiveness of watercourses.

Somerset County Council is responsible for managing flood risk and will investigate significant flooding incidents.

Somerset County Council: Flood and Water Management


The Environment Agency is responsible for investigating pollution incidents in watercourses whilst MDC Environmental Health will respond to incidents relating to private drainage connected to septic tanks and cess pits.