Reporting flooding

Floods are natural events and can result from a number of sources.

River flooding (fluvial)

This occurs when the river cannot cope with the water running off adjacent land. This water causes the watercourse to spill out onto the flood plain.

Flooding from a main river

Main rivers are the responsibility of the Environment Agency. 

You can contact them as follows:

  • general enquiries - 0845 933 3111
  • Floodline - a 24-hour advice and information service for floods and flood warning - 0345 988 1188
  • register to receive flood warnings - Floodline warnings direct

Current water levels

Use the links below to check current water levels:

Flooding from other watercourses

Watercourses, other than main rivers, are the responsibility of riparian owners. You are a riparian owner if your property or land is on, or very near, a watercourse.

Riparian owners have a duty to keep the watercourse clear of any obstruction to flow and the council can serve legal notices on riparian owners to deal with obstructions.

Surface water (pluvial)

This is flooding caused by the existing drainage network being overloaded, either by heavy rain or by blockages in the system. This causes water to run across and create ponds on the land or roads.

It is very difficult to predict this type of flooding. The extent of the flooding depends on the duration and intensity of rainfall. Most of it is short-lived and is known as flash flooding.

Flooding can also occur when land is saturated and is not able to absorb any more rainfall. This is in areas with high clay content in the soil.

Individual landowners are responsible for dealing with storm flood water on their land. Landowners must accept storm flood water run-off onto their land if it is due to the natural profile of any adjoining land. They may install measures to protect their land and property but must not divert storm flood water in such a way that it could cause flooding to adjoining land or property.

In an emergency situation, contact Emergency Services (Fire Brigade) on 999.

Groundwater flooding

This occurs when the water levels in the ground rise above surface levels. The location of the groundwater flooding depends on the underlying geology however it is most likely to occur in areas underlain by permeable rocks called aquifers.

Individual landowners are responsible for dealing with groundwater on their land. Landowners must accept groundwater run-off onto their land if it is due to the natural profile and underlying geology of their land and any adjoining land. They may install measures to protect their land and property but must not divert groundwater in such a way that it could cause flooding to adjoining land or property.

In an emergency situation, contact Emergency Services (Fire Brigade) on 999.

Flooding from sewers

Public sewers

Thames Water owns and manages the network of public foul and surface water sewers. The majority of public sewers are located in highways. You can view highway drainage plans and limited sewer plans at the council's office at Time Square.

Flooding from sewers is due either to an obstruction which restricts the flow or when capacity of the sewer is exceeded. If the capacity is exceeded then water can flow out of the manhole and drain covers. Flood water from any source can be hazardous.

Private sewers or drains

On 1 October 2011 ownership and responsibility for the maintenance of the majority of sewers that would previously have been classified as "private sewers and lateral drains" transferred to the water and sewage companies in England and Wales.

This means that Thames Water Utilities is now responsible for the maintenance of sewers and lateral drains that connect to a public foul or surface water sewer system in the borough. Further information on how the transfer of responsibility for private sewers and lateral drains affects you and your property can be found on Thames Water's website.

How to report an overflowing sewer

You can report overflowing sewers as follows:

  • public sewers - online at Thames Water or call 0845 9200 800 (24-hour service)
  • private sewers - the council's Environmental Health Team on 01344 352000
  • overflowing gullies or drains - the council's Customer Services Team on 01344 352000

Flooding of drains and gullies

Roads have features which are designed to take surface water that runs off from the public highway, for example, gullies, channels and ditches. Exceptional rainfall, water running off adjacent land or rising river levels can cause roads to flood even when the drainage is in good working order.

Gullies

Gullies are scheduled to be cleaned out once a year or more frequently if the need arises.

Highway drainage

Drainage problems on roads are identified by regular inspections of the network or as a result of specific enquiries from the members of the public, council members or the emergency services.

Drainage ditches

Drainage ditches adjoining private lands are usually the responsibility of the land owner to maintain. Under their riparian responsibilities owners should ensure that ditches and watercourses are properly maintained in order to reduce the risk of flooding.

The council, as the Highway Authority, can drain the highway into adjoining ditches. However, the riparian owner is responsible for maintaining these ditches.

Flooding from a burst water main

You can report a burst water main to the local water supply companies who provide your clean water supply. The water companies are responsible for their supply up to and including the water stopcock.

Thames Water is responsible for dealing with foul and surface water sewers and drainage only.

Flooding from a water service pipe or internal pipework

This is the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord and would need the attention of a plumber. Emergency repair work is normally covered by insurance policies or service contracts.

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