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Types of watercourses

Details on the different types of watercourse; main rivers, ordinary watercourses and canals.

Main rivers 

Main Rivers, such as the River Soar, are those under the management and maintenance responsibility of the Environment Agency; a non-departmental public body sponsored by DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).  

If you’re planning to make any alteration to a main river, a flood defence structure or propose to carry out work within flood plain, you may need to obtain a valid environmental permit, specifically a flood risk activity permit from Environment Agency.

Further detailed information on environmental permits can be found at GOV.UK.

Ordinary watercourses

Ordinary Watercourses are under the management of a local authority or Internal Drainage Board, known as the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), as outlined in the Flood and Water Management Act (2010).  

Please use our online mapping system to view the Ordinary Watercourses. The Ordinary Watercourses are those marked in Blue as 'Other River' under Watercourse in the legend. You can also use this version of our maps to view other flood risk information specific to Leicester, which are products from our Flood risk studies.

In the event that a watercourse is not mapped, it will be considered an Ordinary Watercourse. It may not have been formally mapped due to its small or isolated nature. We recommend that any queries relating to unmapped watercourses in Leicester are directed to the LLFA using the contact details provided below.  


Canals in Leicester are under the management of the Canals and Rivers Trust. They’re also includes tow paths and any canal infrastructure such as locks and sluices. The Grand Union Canal passes through Leicester connecting Birmingham to London.