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Environmental Issues

Who is responsible for managing flooding in the district?

Cambridgeshire County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority and is responsible for managing:

  • surface water flooding - including rainfall that runs off surfaces such as roads, roofs and patios

  • groundwater flooding - including flooding caused by long and heavy rainfall that increases the groundwater table flooding from ordinary watercourses, such as drains and ditches, but excluding main rivers.

Flooding from rivers is dealt with by the Environment Agency.

We are responsible for maintaining some watercourses and ensuring that owners of land next to watercourses keep them free from obstruction.

Investigating and Regulating Flooding - Who Manages What?

Advice and links

We have put together some practical information to help residents protect themselves from flooding. In the list below you will find useful advice on how you can best prepare for flooding, as well as what to do during a flood and when recovering from a flood.

View our Strategic Flood Risk Assessment

Check flood warnings, how to prepare for flooding, and what to do before, during and after flooding.

Flooding - GOV.UK

Flooding can happen anywhere, are you prepared?

Flooding has affected Huntingdonshire several times in recent years and one in six houses in England is at risk of flooding in the future. Being prepared could help you protect your home and your belongings next time there is severe weather.

Protect yourself - Prepare for flooding: Protect yourself from future flooding.

Steps to take to prepare for flooding

Visit Polygon to view the Essential Guide to Flood Planning and Preparation (Please note Huntingdonshire District Council does not endorse Polygon or the Polygon Group of companies, the above link is provided for information only).

There are many things you can do now to prepare for flooding:

Emergency flood kits - a 'grab bag' is a key way of minimising the risks and surviving the worst, if you choose to stay in your home or are evacuated to a rest centre. Essential items include:

  • Insurance documents and other important documents

  • Mobile phone and charger

  • Emergency cash and credit cards

  • Essential prescription medication/repeat prescription forms

  • Children’s essentials (milk, baby food, sterilised bottles and spoons, nappies, wipes, nappy bags, clothing, comforter, teddy or favourite toy)

  • Buy flood insurance - ensure you have the correct home insurance in place. The Flood Re website has been set up to help those households who live in a flood risk area find affordable home insurance. Prepare for flooding: Get insurance.

Keep your drains and gutters clear - clear leaves to help prevent blockages and localised flooding in heavy rainfall. If you notice drains on your road are blocking up, report it to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Know how - make sure you know how to quickly turn off your water, gas and electricity. Visit Power Cut? Call 105 to report or get information about power cuts in your local area.

Identify vulnerable neighbours and relatives - check they know how to prepare for flooding.

Join a community flood group – community resilience work with the council and other authorities to find ways to reduce flood risk and raise awareness of flood risk to the wider community.

Flash flooding and groundwater flooding

Flash flooding is a very dangerous type of flooding. It happens when a lot of heavy rain falls in a short period of time:

  • onto the ground

  • into a river or stream.

This can create deep, fast-moving water that can injure or kill people and damage buildings.

Flash flooding can happen anywhere, in towns, cities and the countryside. It can also happen a long way from rivers, lakes and the sea. It can take different forms. Some examples include:

  • a river overflowing because of heavy rain

  • water pooling very quickly in an underpass in a town or city

  • water rushing down a hill because of a reservoir failure.

Flooding caused by lots of rain collecting on the ground is also called surface water flooding.

Groundwater flooding is when water under the ground (the water table) rises to the surface. Underground rooms, such as cellars and basements, are particularly at risk.

Groundwater flooding is more likely where there is chalk under the ground (the bedrock). It can also happen in places with sand and gravel, such as river valleys.

During a flood if there is an immediate risk to your life or you are trapped by flood water, call 999.

In the event of a flood, Huntingdonshire District Council will work with the Environment Agency, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire County Council and other appropriate agencies to help those affected.

During a flooding incident, regular updates will be posted to the homepage of this website.


  • Flood water can rise quickly, so always focus on the safety of you and your family before your property and be prepared to act quickly.

  • If you are asked to evacuate your home, follow the advice of the emergency services.

  • Avoid walking or driving through floodwater, driving in flood water significantly increases risk of drowning.

  • Turn off gas, electricity, and water supplies if flood water is about to enter your home. Do not touch any electrical appliances or cables when standing in flood water.

  • Move family, pets and your flood kit upstairs, or to a high place with a means of escape.

  • Call 105 to report or get information about power cuts in your area.

  • Avoid contact with flood water and wash your hands regularly. Swallowing flood water can cause diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain.

  • Check on vulnerable neighbours and relatives who may be unable to raise the alarm or evacuate their property. Only call 999 if it is an emergency. If there isn't a risk to life but you are worried about someone, please report it online.

  • What to do before or during a flood.

What to do after a flood

If you are affected by flooding, these are the things you should do:

  • Take care if you must go into flood water. There could be hidden dangers such as live electricity cables, sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution. Also, water may be deeper than it first appears.

  • Ring your insurance company and register your claim. Take photos or videos before you start cleaning and make a list of everything that has been damaged.

  • Find out how to dispose of flood damaged items safely, after you have spoken to your insurance company.

  • Make sure all electrical circuits are fully dried out and checked by a registered electrician before switching them back on. Only use electrical appliances if you know they are still in good working order. View more information about electrical safety following a flood.

  • Use dehumidifiers to dry out your property rather than portable heaters which can put you at risk of having a fire. If you do use portable heaters, keep them at least one metre away from furniture or other flammable items. When drying out your property do not overload extension leads or adaptors.

  • Do not use petrol or diesel generators or other similar fuel-driven equipment indoors. The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which can kill. If you cannot use your cooker, don’t use disposable barbecues inside as you will be at risk of having a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Wear rubber boots and gloves to clean up and wash your hands afterwards. Clean all hard surfaces (such as walls and floors) with hot water and detergent. Hard surfaces contaminated by sewage need to be cleaned and disinfected.

  • Food safety advice after flooding including how to make baby food without mains water, is available from the Food Standards Agency

  • If you have sandbags that can still be used, keep them in a dry location, off the ground for future use.

Further information

Flood groups

Huntingdonshire’s flood groups are community based and work with the local authority and agencies to find ways to reduce flood risk and raise awareness of flood risk to the wider community.

If you’re interested in joining or starting a flood group, with support from the council, email

Further information

There is no statutory responsibility for Huntingdonshire District Council to provide residents with sandbags in the event of a flood incident. It is the homeowner/occupiers' responsibility to protect properties from flooding.

We will work to support flood action groups and town and parish councils to obtain flood prevention measures and distribute them to previously identified vulnerable residents. It is not possible for Huntingdonshire District Council to provide or deliver sandbags to individual properties that may require them during a flooding event

In certain circumstances sandbags may be deployed to prevent flooding of pre-determined locations, and be used to protect vulnerable people, critical infrastructure and assets.

To prepare for flooding we will: 

  • support local flood action groups to increase community resilience

  • look into new plant and equipment to assist communities during a flood
  • provide training to councillors and staff on their roles and responsibilities in a flood

  • liaise with our partners: Cambridgeshire County CouncilEnvironment Agency and Anglian Water - along with local Flood Action Groups to help resolve flood issues that we are aware of

  • raise awareness, build resilience and help resolve flood related issues

  • proactively share messages to remind residents to be prepared through our website and our social media accounts. We also monitor and share warnings from the Environment Agency and the Met Office

  • where possible continue to source external investment to reduce flood risk

  • regularly review and practice our emergency plans to ensure we are able to respond to flooding.

It is not possible for us to provide or deliver sandbags to individual properties that may require them during a flooding event.

Sandbags can assist with flood prevention but they are only really useful for diverting moving water away from property and are not very effective with standing water

There are some new and innovative alternatives to sandbags which you can buy to protect your home. A list of suppliers can be found at The Blue Pages. 

During a flood we will:

  • work with the Environment Agency, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire County Council and other appropriate agencies to help those affected

  • provide regular updates on the home page of this website

  • gather information and updates to pass on to residents as soon as possible. This will be done by your local councillor. It is not the role of a councillor to be a front line responder as this must be left to the emergency services

  • send officers out into the community to assess levels of flooding and assist in the allocation of resources

  • open rest centres under the direction of Cambridgeshire Police.

We will not respond to individual messages and comments on Facebook and Twitter pages.

During an emergency we may need to draw in staff from other areas in the council. As a result some council services may be affected. Please bear with us, we will aim to resume all services as soon as possible.

Following an incident we will:

  • visit affected communities and offer support and advice

  • capture information about which properties have been flooded

  • assist people who have been displaced from their home.

Your local councillor will be on hand to provide information and updates. They can also gather feedback from residents to contribute to a councillors debriefing session after the event.

A riparian owner is anyone who owns a property where there is a watercourse within, or adjacent to the boundaries of their property. A watercourse includes a river, stream or ditch.

If you are a riparian owner, you have certain responsibilities to manage flood risk.

Riparian owners must let water flow through their land without any obstruction, pollution or diversion which affects the rights of others. You should keep the banks clear of anything that could cause an obstruction and increase flood risk, either on your land or downstream if it is washed away.

You are responsible for maintaining the bed and banks of the watercourse as well as the trees and shrubs growing on the banks, and clearing any litter and animal carcasses from the channel and banks, even if they did not come from your land.

Riparian owners must also keep any structure, such as culverts, trash screens, weirs and mill gates, clear of debris.

If you do not carry out your riparian responsibilities, you could face legal action.

View information about owning a watercourse.

Environmental permits

You must follow the environmental permitting rules if you want to do work:

  • on or near a main river

  • on or near a flood defence structure

  • in a flood plain

  • on or near a sea defence.

These are regulated under environmental permits (formerly flood defence consents) which are issued by the Environment Agency. You are breaking the law if you operate without getting the permit you need.

Land drainage consent

You must obtain land drainage consent from Cambridgeshire County Council if you want to do work on or near a watercourse.

Report it

Water and land pollution or blockages which increase the risk of flooding relating to main rivers should be reported to the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 807060.

Those relating to streams, brooks and other watercourses should be reported to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Further information

Huntingdonshire District Council

Call 01480 388388. Outside normal office hours call the emergency out of hours service on 01480 434167

Environment Agency Floodline

Call 03459 881188 to report a flood or to find out if your property is at risk of flooding from a reservoir, river, or watercourse.

Cambridgeshire County Council

Contact us if flooding is from highway drainage, surface water or groundwater.

Anglian Water

Call 03457 145145 if flooding is from sewers or burst water mains.

Met Office

Nation Flood Forum

Flood prevention products

The Blue Pages


The Association of British Insurers

Flood Re

Power cuts

Call 105 to report a power cut or get updates when your electricity has been cut off.


Please remember that if there is an immediate risk to your life or you are trapped by flood water, call 999. For non-emergencies call Cambridgeshire Police on 101.