Watercourses come in all sizes, from small piped culverts, and shallow ditches up to large rivers, but all are a vital part of local drainage controls and need to be maintained to protect against flooding and other environmental problems.
Quite often property owners are unaware that they are responsible for a watercourse (at least until there is a problem). If your property has an ordinary watercourse (a river, stream, ditch or culvert NOT defined as Main River) running through it or adjacent to it then you are a Riparian Owner for the watercourse and have certain rights and responsibilities. These responsibilities may be shared with another landowner, or may be wholly yours.
Changes and works to watercourses often need approval from the relevant drainage authority (Surrey County Council) in the form of an Ordinary Watercourse Consent – information on Ordinary Watercourse Consents is available here.
Surrey County Council, as the lead local drainage authority has produced information and guidance on Riparian Ownership.