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Managing the county's flood risk

Find out how we manage flood risk and minimise the impact of flooding incidents in County Durham. This page also explains what we're responsible for and what is the responsibility of our partners or property owners.

Flooding prevention schemes

Drains and sewers

Riverside property owners

If you own a property which has a watercourse, such as a stream or river, running through it or next to the property boundary you are a 'riparian' owner. You have certain legal rights and responsibilities. A guidance document that can be downloaded from riverside ownership: rights and responsibilities ('living on the edge').

Flood management plans

As the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) for County Durham, we work with partner agencies like Northumbria Water and the Environment Agency. We carry out specific tasks associated with The Flood Risk Regulations 2009 and the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. We:

  • develop, maintain and apply a local flood risk strategy
  • carry out risk assessments and identify flood risk areas
  • investigate all significant flooding
  • keep a register of flood defences
  • produce the County Durham Surface Water Management Plan to manage flooding as a result of heavy rainfall

Surface Water Management Plan


All large reservoirs are regulated under The Reservoirs Act 1975 and must be regularly inspected and maintained to reduce the risk of failure. A specific plan for Tunstall Reservoir, Wolsingham is available:  Icon for pdf Tunstall Reservoir emergency procedure leaflet (PDF, 394.7kb) ‚Äč.


A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) provides a large-scale assessment of the risks associated with coastal evolution and presents a policy framework to address these risks to people and the developed, historic and natural environment in a sustainable manner. In doing so, an SMP is a high-level document that forms an important part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) strategy for flood and coastal defence (Defra, 2001).

The SMP is a non-statutory, policy document for coastal defence management planning. It takes account of other existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements, and is intended to inform wider strategic planning. It does not set policy for anything other than coastal defence management.

Our Shoreline Management Plan can be found on North East Coastal Observatory reports under shoreline management plans and then River Tyne to Flamborough Head.