Managing flood risk

But these organisations play a key role in reducing flood risk to local people and property, and managing water levels for agricultural and environmental needs. Peterborough’s surrounding countryside would revert to a lake if it wasn’t for the work of its internal drainage board (IDB)!

IDBs remain a cornerstone of the democratic governance of water in England today. Each one is a public body, made up of local representatives (including councillors, landowners, and other stakeholders and partners) with collective responsibility for managing water levels in their area – known as an internal drainage district.

“Internal drainage boards remain a cornerstone of the democratic governance of water in England today

The Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA), which represents water management authorities, is keen to improve the support available to councillors sitting on IDBs. So one of the highlights of our recent annual conference was the launch of the first authoritative and comprehensive guide to the role and functions of water level managers.

Our ‘Guide to good governance for internal drainage board members’ is a valuable resource for those serving their local community, economy and landscape. It has been collectively encouraged, supported and developed by the water management community, and supported financially by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

I hope it will increase recognition for the essential and valued public service freely given by IDB members, and help to expand their knowledge and build their confidence in their role.

The new guide follows very similar principles to other guidance offered to local authority councillors, and covers the essential subjects of: roles and responsibilities; governance; delivery; funding and financial management; transparency and accountability; and the management of risks and hazards.

We are supporting the guidance with training events next year, and hope it enables current and prospective IDB members to understand and value the importance of getting involved.


The Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) is the membership organisation for drainage, water level and flood risk management authorities, see


SEND support funding gap

Funding messages for party conference