Drains and gullies: flooding

Flooding is the type of emergency that can happen very quickly and have a devastating effect on people and properties.

Barnet is not an area prone to serious flooding, but there are areas of the borough, near waterways, which are at more risk.

Main flood risks in Barnet

The main flood risks tend to come from rivers, which the Environment Agency look after, and from sewers overflowing during severe storms, which Thames Water will deal with. 

We’re responsible for three watercourses: Decoy Brook, Folly Brook and Clitterhouse Ditch, as well as all minor watercourses.

During extreme weather conditions, we closely monitor vulnerable grilles and trash screens on all watercourses to make sure they are clear, and not obstructing the flow of water.

  • All highway and street flooding, and flooding from streams or rivers should be reported to our Highways Correspondence team using the details listed at the bottom of the page.
  • Property flooding from public sewers should be reported to Thames Water Help
  • Property flooding from burst water mains should be reported to the appropriate water and sewage company.
  • For tips and guidance on how to protect your property during a flood, including advice on sand bags, visit the Environment Agency’s website
  • If you are concerned about floods call the Floodline on 0345 9881188.

Overflowing road gullies (highways drains)

Barnet is responsible for draining road and pavement surfaces. This is usually done through road gullies. A road gully is the slotted iron grating situated in the carriageway adjacent to the kerb. The purpose of the road gully is to collect storm water runoff when it rains.

If you see water flowing out of a road gully, it could be that it is blocked. Please provide location information and report this to our to our Highways Correspondence team using the details listed at the bottom of the page.

Watercourses and culverts

We assume that property owners own land up to the centre of the watercourse, unless we have been told otherwise. Responsibility for the maintenance, repair and care of the watercourse rests with the property owner. This is termed "riparian ownership".

A riparian owner has responsibility and duty to make sure that water flows without obstruction or pollution, from the upstream landowner to the land owner downstream. This would include the obstruction of flow caused by the collapse of the banks of an open watercourse or the collapse of a culvert or pipe.   

As riparian owner, you have the responsibility to accept flood flows through your land, even if caused by inadequate capacity downstream, as there is no Common Law duty to improve a watercourse.

You are responsible for keeping the bed and banks clear of any matter that could cause an obstruction on your land, or by being washed away by high flow, to obstruct a structure downstream. The watercourse should not be used for the disposal of any form of garden waste.

Barnet has a land drainage responsibility to ensure that riparian owners comply with these duties and responsibilities. We carry out inspections to identify problem areas.

Further information is available from the Environment Agency flood warnings page

Water flowing across the public highway

It is an offence under the Highways Act 1980 to allow water to flow across the public highway from adjoining properties. All highway and street flooding should be reported to the to our Highways Correspondence team using the details listed at the bottom of the page.

Flooding advice and guidance

  • Always avoid walking, cycling or playing in or near floodwater. Accidents can happen very quickly in floodwater. 
  • There can be dangers from things you cannot see because they are hidden by the floodwater, like sharp objects, tree branches, and raised or missing manhole covers and pollution. Keep out of the flood water.
  • If your house is flooded, or could be flooded or has been damaged by floodwater, you and your family may be asked to stay with friends or family, or go to a special rest centre, in order to stay safe. Your family will have time to try and make sure special and important things, like your favourite toys and any household pets, are safe too. When the floods are over and things have been cleaned up, you will be able to go back to your house.
  •  After people’s homes have been flooded, they quite often feel tired, anxious or find it hard to sleep. Don’t worry if you feel like this and tell your family or whoever looks after you or your teachers and talk to your friends. They can help you until things get back to normal. 
  • If your house has been flooded, it’s very important to make sure you keep washing your hands carefully with warm water and soap and drying them, so that you don’t get ill from bugs that might have been in the water. 
  • Make sure you don’t eat any food that has touched floodwater.
  • More advice on what to do before, during and after a flood from Public Health England

Barnet Council takes its role as a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) seriously. We are monitoring potential flood areas, and working around the clock to clear gullies, drains and watercourses.

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