Hertfordshire County Council is the regulatory body for construction in, and maintenance of flow in all ordinary watercourses in Hertfordshire, except for the small area of the county north of Hitchin (Ickleford & Pirton) that is covered by the Bedfordshire and Ivel Internal Drainage Board (IDB).

Ordinary watercourses are deemed to be all rivers and streams and all ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dikes, sluices, sewers (other than public sewers vested with utilities) and passages, through which water flows that are not classified as Main River by the Environment Agency

To view all ordinary watercourses in Hertfordshire, please refer to our online Ordinary Watercourse Map

The purpose of ordinary watercourse regulation (consenting and enforcement) is to control certain activities and works that might disrupt the ability of the watercourse to drain areas or transfer water. 

If you are planning to carry out work that may affect the flow or storage of water in an ordinary watercourse, then you must seek consent from the relevant authority. 


As a Lead Local Flood Authority, Hertfordshire County Council is the authority which deals with applications for ordinary watercourse land drainage consent in Hertfordshire, except for the area of the county covered by the Bedfordshire and Ivel Internal Drainage Board (IDB).  

Service Standards

Hertfordshire County Council’s service standards for ordinary watercourses include:

  • Managing the consenting of works and enforcement on ordinary watercourses;
  • The timeframes for monitoring and inspecting ordinary watercourses in accordance with their indicative level of flood risk (low, medium or high);
  • The timeframes for responding to any complaints or notifications about an ordinary watercourse (corresponding to its level of flood risk);
  • Performance indicators to be used against the above service areas.

Hertfordshire's Service Standards for Ordinary Watercourse Regulation

As the regulating body for activities and enforcement issues on ordinary watercourses in the county, Hertfordshire County Council consulted on its 'Draft Ordinary Watercourse Service Standards' in late 2013. The consultation closed on Monday 16 December 2013. 

The original consultation documents can be found below, together with supporting maps showing the indicative flood risk scores for ordinary watercourses in each Hertfordshire district. 


Hertfordshire Water Framework Directive Guidance