Flood and Water Management / Drainage

Section 19 - Flood Investigations

Flood Investigations

Following the extensive flooding in 2007, the government enacted the Flood and Water Management Act in 2010 (FWMA 2010).  The Act sets new statutory responsibilities for managing flood risk and gives local authorities the lead role for managing local flood risk through the creation of Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) while the Environment Agency (EA) was given a strategic overview role.

As a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), one of its duties is to investigate flood incidents where it considers it necessary or appropriate and produce a report.  The investigation will: 

  • determine which risk management authorities have relevant flood risk management functions, and
  • whether each of those risk management authorities has exercised, or is proposing to exercise, those functions in response to the flood.

Where the authority carries out an investigation, it must publish the results of the investigation and notify any relevant risk management authorities.  The duty to investigate flood incidents is set out under section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

When would we carry out a flood investigation?

Investigations are often complex, they involve a significant amount of time and resources and therefore can be costly.  However, the council will attend every reported flooding incident and then make an assessment whether to carry out a detailed investigation under the terms of FWMA.  This procedure (Flood Investigation Protocol) has been drafted to guide officers in their decision-making.  The Flood Investigation Protocol will remain a living document and be adjusted to lessons learnt as flood incidents occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Section 19 report?

A Section 19 report is a report that a Lead Local Flood Authority must publish after becoming aware of a flood event that has taken place in its area. This is required under the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) and it must investigate which risk management authorities had relevant risk management functions during the flood and whether they have exercised, or plan to exercise, those functions

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Who are the risk management authorities?

  • The Environment Agency is responsible for managing risk from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea.
  • Milton Keynes Council, as Lead Local Flood Authority, is responsible for managing the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses. Ordinary watercourses are all rivers and streams which are not designated as ‘main rivers’.
  • Milton Keynes Council also carries out flood risk management works on minor watercourses. As Lead Planning Authority we are responsible for controlling development in their area, ensuring that flood risks are effectively managed.
  • Water and sewerage companies are responsible for managing the risks of flooding from drainage systems, including both their surface water only systems and combined sewer systems.
  • Highway Authorities are responsible for providing and managing highway drainage and roadside ditches, and must ensure that road projects do not increase flood risk.

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What constitutes a risk management function?

Risk management functions are detailed in the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) and they include responsibilities such as communicating with other risk management authorities, and in the case of the Lead Local Flood Authority, developing a Flood Risk Management Strategy, maintaining a register of assets that contribute to flood resilience, and publishing Section 19 reports. It is important to understand that the majority of these functions do not apply to a risk management authority’s actual response during a flood event; however in the Section 19 reports we have included a significant number of the response and recovery actions undertaken by the risk management authorities in addition to the limited flood risk management functions required by the legislation.

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Do the Section 19 reports hold risk management authorities to account or apportion blame for the cause of the floods?

No. In accordance with the Flood and Water Management Act (2010), it is not within the remit of the reports to apportion blame or hold any risk management authority to account for their response to the floods

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Do the Section 19 reports address issues other than who the risk management authorities were and what they did?

Milton Keynes Council’s Section 19 reports also describe the weather conditions that contributed to the flooding and make recommendations as to how risk management authorities can strengthen their approach to joint working in future events

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Available Reports:




Last Updated: 27 February 2019