A watercourse is literally the course water takes across land. It is generally defined as an open channel through which water flows or collects (be it natural, modified or artificial), either continually or intermittently, or has the potential to do so, and includes river beds, stream beds, gullies, natural depressions, ditches, and drainage channels.
A watercourse also includes any culvert or pipe that replaces a natural open channel.
The property owner is responsible for a watercourse from where it enters their property to where it exits. This includes keeping it and any associated grates clear so the water can flow unimpeded.
Some landowners are unaware of watercourses on their property, particularly if they are piped underground. We don’t know about every watercourse in Dunedin as many are not recorded or run through private properties but the ones we do know about are recorded on the water services map.
Our watercourse information sheet has answers to common questions about watercourses.
Both we and the Otago Regional Council oversee some elements of watercourse maintenance or modification and you may need building or resource consent if you want to pipe or divert the watercourse, or build a structure over it.
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