Devon County Council

We are responsible for managing local flood risk in Devon from surface water, groundwater and consenting and enforcement on Ordinary Watercourses. This excludes flood risk from the sea and main rivers, which is the Environment Agency’s responsibility.

Surface water runoff definition:

‘Rainwater (including snow and other precipitation – which is on the surface of the ground (whether or not it is moving), and has not entered a watercourse, drainage system or public sewer.’

Flood and Water Management Act 2010

Ordinary watercourse definition:

‘A watercourse that is not part of a main river… all rivers and streams, ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dikes, sluices, sewers (other than public sewers within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991) and passages, through which water flows.’

Land Drainage Act 1991

Groundwater definition:

‘All water which is below the surface of the ground and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil.’

Flood and Water Management Act 2010


Before becoming a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), we were responsible for maintaining and repairing highway surface water drainage systems and planning for and responding to flood emergencies. We still have these responsibilities, but we are now also responsible for developing, maintaining and applying a Local Flood Risk Strategy.

Under the new Flood and Water Management Act we are required to:

  • Investigate all significant flooding incidents
  • Maintain a register and record of important flood defence assets
  • Work towards becoming the SuDS Approving Body (SAB) to ensure use of sustainable drainage on new developments, approve, adopt and maintain
  • Build effective partnerships between the authorities that have control over flood risk
  • Undertake specific tasks associated with the Flood Risk Regulations, including completing a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment and identifying local Flood Risk Areas
  • Undertake works to manage flood risk from surface runoff and groundwater, consistent with the local strategy for flood risk management for the area