Richmond.gov.uk

Parts of Richmond are at risk of flooding from the rivers Crane, Beverley Brook and the River Thames.

Who to contact about flooding

During a flooding event, if you are vulnerable or feel that lives are at risk, contact the emergency services on 999 for immediate assistance and rescue.

If the issue is urgent but not life threatening, please contact us by phone on 020 8891 7999 (24/7).

You can contact the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. You can call your Water Utility on 0800 316 9800.

If you are not sure who to contact, please see advice below.

Key emergency flooding contacts

View the key emergency contacts below.

Properties

As a property owner you should take reasonable measures to protect your land and property from flooding.

Responsibilities

If you own land adjoining, above or with a watercourse running through it, you have certain rights and responsibilities. In legal terms you are a ‘riparian owner’.

If you rent the land, you should agree with the owner who will manage these rights and responsibilities. The Environment agency has a plan to help you understand your responsibilities.

Front gardens

Make sure if you're paving your garden that the material you use is permeable. Gov.uk and the Royal Horticultural Society have produced some useful guidance on how to do this.

Pipes and drains

A drain is the property owner's responsibility until it connects to either someone else's drain or to a public sewer. Water that fails to drain away under normal circumstances is the property owner’s responsibility to check for blockages

If your drains are blocked, you need to call a plumber or drainage engineer. Specific insurance is available for drains within the property boundary.

If water is ‘backing up’ into your toilet/sink/bath or flowing out of a sewer causing flooding, contact Thames Water on 0800 316 9800. The water utility company (Thames Water) is responsible for sewers up to the property boundary or where they are shared up to the sewer which leads to the property.

Reporting issues

If you are in a local authority owned property and the issue is within your property you can report is 020 8891 7999.

If you are a housing association or private tenant, please contact your landlord to report any issues

Surface water

Surface water or flash flooding occurs when heavy rainfall exceeds the capacity of the ground and local drainage networks to absorb it. It can lead to water flowing over the ground and pooling in low-lying areas. It is typically caused by short intense rainfall. This is identified as the biggest risk in London.

You will most obviously see this as water ponding on roads. Most roads have roadside gully pots at the side of the road which captures the water, this then flows into Thames Water sewers in most cases or soakways. The local authority highways teams are responsible for clearing gullies and managing these soakaways.

After heavy rain, it is expected to see some water in the road or on open land, despite work undertaken to prevent this. It may be because other parts of the drainage system are at full capacity and it will slowly recede. If water is still present after a few hours and you believe the issue is being caused by a blocked or damaged roadside gully, or if you wish to report another non-emergency drainage issue, please contact the local authority Highways team on highwayoperationsandstreetscene@richmond.gov.uk

There are gullies or drainage systems that are present in private estates or roads which are the responsibility of the landowner or private management company, usually shared ownership between residents. Significant structures and their owners where the information is provided by the 3rd party may be identified in the Flood Asset Register produced by the local authority – See later section.

Where significant flooding has resulted in a property flooding the local authority will need to include this in their Flood Investigations please report this after the event.

Sewers

Sewers are the responsibility of Thames Water.

Sewer flooding can occur due to sewer blockage or collapse, or an increased flow and volume of water entering a sewer system which overwhelms its capacity, causing water not to be able to enter or to be pushed out. Where sewer outfall points are either blocked or submerged due to high water levels, water can back up in a sewer system and cause flooding. If you think there is a blockage in the sewer, you can report this to Thames Water.

If the flooding is coming from inside your property (i.e.. out of your sinks, toilets, or showers) then please report this to Thames Water or call them on 0800 316 9800. Please complete their sewer flooding questionnaire as this is the only way they prioritise any longer term work which may be required.

Sewer flooding can often be seen as surface water flooding and so it may not be clear where it originates from and so should also be reported to the local authority at highwayoperationsandstreetscene@richmond.gov.uk or by reporting an issue with a drain

Water Supply pipes

Unfortunately, even with supply pipes there can be leaks and occasionally more serious pipe bursts. For advice in these situations please visit your water supplier website. In many cases across London, Thames Water is your supplier and provides the following advice on frozen or burst pipes and that you please let them know about all pipe burst in the road.

If you are unsure who your supplier is, you can can find your supplier online.

Rivers

All rivers are the responsibility of landowners known as 'riparian owners'.

Main Rivers

Main rivers are mapped and registered by the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency undertakes some maintenance work in high-risk areas. If you notice a blockage or tree on a main river which is causing risk of flooding, call the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Permits are also required from the Environment Agency for structures along main rivers. There are also structures and screens that are managed and cleared on rivers on a more regular basis in periods of adverse weather. This could be the Environment Agency, local authority or other organisation or private landowner. The significant structures will be highlighted in the Flood Asset Register.

Ordinary Watercourses

Roadside ditches normally belong to the adjoining landowner and not the highway authority, except where land has been acquired for new road building.

Consent is required from the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) to undertake some works on an ordinary watercourse. If a landowner wishes to pipe, alter a pipe, or dam an ordinary watercourse, they should apply for consent from the LLFA by contacting planning@richmond.gov.uk.

Where there is local authority owned land, we have a programme for clearance and maintenance. Where they are piped or culverted, this does not change the responsibility. Please contact planning@richmond.gov.uk to find out more.

Groundwater (where applicable)

Groundwater flooding occurs because of the underground water table rising, which can result in water emerging through the ground and causing flooding in extreme circumstances. This source of flooding tends to occur after extensive periods of heavy rainfall.

Please call 020 8891 7999 to find out more.

Reservoirs (where applicable)

A reservoir is, most commonly, an enlarged natural or artificial lake, pond or impoundment created using a dam or lock to store water. There are a number of these may be managed by different companies and landowners.

Contact details of the responsible body will be displayed at each reservoir, who will have an onsite reservoir plan, however in an emergency please call the local authority on 020 8891 7999 who are responsible for offsite reservoir plans and alerting the wider public of the potential issue.

Canals (where applicable)

The Canal and River Trust is responsible for the canals. For non-emergency related matters, call them on 0303 040 4040.

For emergencies, call the 24-hour number on 0800 47 999 47.

​Flooding advice: before, during and after

Find out where to get help and advice before, during and after a flood.

Plan and prepare - residential, commercial and community properties

Flood resilience equipment

Before using flood resilience equipment:

During a flood

If there is a risk to life, a serious risk to property or to the environment call 999

During a flood you should:

  • Keep up to date about the weather and risks to your property using radio, TV, web, or social media
  • Keep outside drains clear to let surface water escape
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies before flood water enters your property (if it's safe to do so)
  • Put plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down to stop water overflowing into your home
  • Wash your hands whenever they come into contact with flood water as they may be contaminated
  • Look after your neighbours - even in the summer, people can suffer from hypothermia after their homes have become flooded with cold rainwater
  • Be careful if you have a private water supply - flooding can affect its quality and damage equipment, boil it before drinking or using it for food preparation
  • If your home has been flooded, move your family and pets upstairs, or to a high place with a means of escape, take your emergency grab bag with you
  • If you're using a petrol or diesel water pump, put the generator outside, keep your doors and windows closed, use a carbon monoxide detector in your home - generators produce carbon monoxide fumes which can kill

During a flood you should not:

  • Touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water
  • Enter your home if there is raw sewage in it - stay somewhere else until it has been cleaned
  • Smoke, eat or drink whilst in contact with flood water (always wash your hands in clean water before doing so)
  • Let your children play in flood water, it can become contaminated with sewage and chemicals
  • Use towpaths
  • Walk through flooded areas - even shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet, there may be hidden dangers such as open drains, damaged road surfaces, submerged debris or deep channels - these can cause serious injuries or even death
  • Travel in heavy rainstorms unless absolutely necessary
  • Drive through flooded roads or areas:
    • 80 percent of flood deaths happen in vehicles as the water is deeper than it looks and moving fast
    • Your vehicle may be swept away, or you may become stranded, four inches of water is enough to stop a car
    • Driving through flood water can spread sewage onto your car and into streets

Organisations working together

Where a flood event becomes a major event, the local authority has written a Multi-Agency Flood Plan. This has been agreed across all the key parties that have responsibilities in responding to flooding on how they will work together.

What we do after a flood

We'll do our best to reduce flooding but if it does happen, we'll:

  • Help restore the flooded area to normality
  • Provide support to those affected by flooding
  • Consider how we can prevent future flooding and reduce its effect
  • Work with government departments and partner agencies, hoping to secure funding and grants for those affected
  • For significant events the Local Authorities are likely to have a recovery plan which will be enacted.

 What you can do after a flood

What to do after a flood, once the water has receded:

  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible after a flood See insurance guidance for homeowners
  • Read GOV.UK's advice on clearing up after a flood
    • Wear protective clothing such as wellies and rubber gloves before starting any clean up
    • Remove dirty water and silt from your property
    • If you have wooden floors you may have water under the floorboards which need pumping out. Emergency services do not provide a pumping-out service, so you'll need to get pumps from hardware and DIY stores
    • If using a petrol or diesel pump make sure the generator is outside and that doors and windows are closed - generators produce carbon monoxide fumes which can kill
    • Ventilate your property, open doors and windows - less damp means less damage
    • Use specialist detergents to clean up oil and petrol, following the manufacturer’s guidelines, and ensure the area is well ventilated
    • Don’t dispose of damaged goods until your insurers have had a chance to inspect them
    • Flood water can leave a muddy deposit containing bacteria but a thorough clean up reduces the health risk
  • Get your local electricity supply checked before switching it back on. (For businesses, assess the risk to your staff and customers and consider closing the business until it has been checked).
  • Don't use electrical equipment exposed to flood water until it has been checked by a qualified electrician
  • Do not use internal lifts until power is back to normal
  • Have your gas or oil central heating checked by a qualified person
  • Follow the Food Standards Agency's advice on food safety after a flood
  • Get professional advice (structural engineer) for repairs if your property is damaged, GOV.UK can help you find repairers
  • If anyone becomes ill after accidentally swallowing flood water or mud, contact a doctor and tell them about the flooding
  • Report your flood to the relevant body to ensure they take action where necessary, and it is included in future decision making on projects that may be taken forward
  • Apply for any assistance provided by central government and/or the local authority.

Consider Build Back Better - Flood Re

Flood risk management

We have a range of duties and powers to help reduce and manage flooding within the borough.

Lead Local Flood Authority

As the Lead Local Flood Authority, we are responsible for coordinating the management of flooding from groundwater, surface water and ordinary water courses within the borough.

Groundwater flooding

Groundwater flooding happens when water levels in the ground rise above surface levels.

Surface water flooding

Surface water flooding (also known as flash flooding) happens when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drains of the local area, or when a pumping station fails.

Surface water flooding is more difficult to predict and pinpoint than river flooding. We estimate that around 681 properties in the borough (pdf, 12.3 MB) are at a high risk from surface water flooding.

River flooding

River flooding (fluvial) happens when a water course cannot cope with the water draining into it from the surrounding land.

River flooding is usually caused by heavy rain falling on already waterlogged land. We estimate that around 4753 properties in the borough (pdf, 2.3 MB) are at risk from river flooding.

We have a range of duties and powers to help reduce and manage flooding within the borough.

We also work closely with external bodies such as the Environment Agency and Thames Water to provide a joined up approach. Unfortunately it is not always possible to prevent damage to properties in every flood. We do not have a legal obligation to protect individual properties. However, we will do all we can to reduce the risk of flooding and help residents following a flood.

Flood investigation

We have a duty to investigate flooding when it is 'necessary and appropriate' (Section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act).

You can tell us about flooding in the borough, or we may notice incidents of flooding ourselves. When we come to know about flooding we decide whether to undertake a flood risk investigation. We are likely to investigate where:

  • A property has been flooded inside, on more than one occasion
  • Five or more properties have been flooded inside during a single flood incident
  • Critical infrastructure has been affected by flooding
  • The source of flooding is ambiguous

The investigation will identify which Risk Management Authority (for example us or the Environment agency) have a flood risk management function in relation to the flood. It will then detail what each authority with a relevant function is going to or has done in response to the flooding incident.

View our recent flood investigations.

Local Flood Risk Management Strategy

As Local Lead Flood Authority, we have a duty, under Section 9 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, to develop, maintain, apply and monitor a strategy for local flood risk management. Local flood risk is the risk of flooding from ordinary watercourses, groundwater and surface water.

Read the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (pdf, 2.3 MB)

The strategy describes how flood risk will be managed across the borough. It considers the risk of flooding from ordinary watercourses, groundwater and surface water. It outlines our priorities for managing the local flood risk and sets out a delivery plan to manage the risk.

The strategy includes:

  • The risk management authorities within the boundaries of the borough and what management functions each authority has in managing local flood risk. We have given consideration to the roles and responsibilities of other risk management authorities across the borough, including:
    • The Environment Agency, who have responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers
    • Thames Water, who have responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from sewers
  • The objectives for managing local flood risk, along with how and when they are expected to be achieved
  • The cost and benefit of each measure
  • An assessment of local flood risk
  • An action plan of how and when the strategy is to be reviewed
  • How the wider environment will benefit by achieving the objectives set out in the strategy

Projects that are being delivered to reduce local flood risk include:

Flood Asset Register

We maintain a register and record of assets that have a significant impact on the risk of flooding. (This is required by the Flood and Water Management Act.) An asset is a structure or feature that can affect the flow or storage of water.

For example a wall next to a river could stop water from flooding houses during heavy rain, and it could be considered an asset. Pipes in the ground, bridges and roadside gullies are other examples of assets that can affect flood risk.

Assets in your local area

The Asset register is an online record of assets in the borough. The register contains information about the location, condition and ownership (where available) of each asset. The register does not show you where there is a risk of flooding, but you can use the register to see what assets are in your local area.

Managing development and building works

As the Lead Local Flood Authority and as the Local Planning Authority, we have a range of duties and powers to help prevent and manage flooding within the borough. Some of those duties affect building and development within the borough.

Although flooding is a natural event, it can be life-threatening and cause severe damage to property. The risk can’t be removed but can be reduced through good planning and management in order to create safe and sustainable future development.

As the Local Planning Authority we are responsible for assessing flood risk.

You can read the latest Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (pdf, 2.3 MB).

Sustainable urban drainage

Sustainable drainage aims to mimic natural processes. Examples of sustainable drainage are:

  • Ponds
  • Green roofs
  • Soakaways
  • Swales

Sustainable drainage puts as much water as possible back into the ground to:

  • Help maintain healthy aquifers
  • Decrease the risk of flooding and drought
  • Improve water quality

Sustainable Drainage is a material planning consideration for all Major applications. The Lead Local Flood Authority is consulted on all major planning applications since 15 April 2015.

Read more about assessing drainage on major applications and how to complete the drainage Proforma.

Ordinary watercourse consenting

As Lead Local Flood Authority we are responsible for consenting and enforcing ordinary watercourses.

If you are undertaking work that will affect the flow of water through an ordinary watercourse or culvert, you need consent from us before work can begin.

A watercourse is defined in the Land Drainage Act 1991 as ‘all rivers and streams, all 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’.

An ordinary watercourse is a watercourse that has not been designated as a main river on the Environment agency's flood risk map.

If you do not get consent from us and your work affects an ordinary watercourse we have the power to take remedial action. This includes the power to complete the works and reclaim the associated costs from you (see section 23 of the Land Drainage Act 1991).

Please contact for quires: 020 8871 7372.

Designated structures or features that may reduce flooding

As the Lead Local Flood Authority we have powers to designate structures or features with a significant impact on flood risk. We do this to protect structures or features that play a role in reducing flood risk. If we have designated something it usually means that a number of properties would be at a greater risk of flooding if that structure or feature was removed.

The Environment Agency also have powers to designate structures you can find out more on the GOV.UK Flood and sea defences guidance.​

A record of the designation will be put onto the Local Land Charges so that subsequent land owners will be made aware of the designation.

Once we have designated a feature, the owner must seek consent from us to alter, remove, or replace it.

If you make a change to a designated feature without our consent, we may issue an enforcement notice which will set out the steps that must be taken to restore the feature.

You may appeal against a designation notice, refusal of consent, conditions placed on a consent or an enforcement notice.

Contact us to find out the structures that have been designated and discuss consent to alter a feature or structure that has been designated.

Updated: 16 August 2022

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