Road drains and gully cleaning

See who is responsible for the different types of road drainage systems and report a drainage issue online.

When flooding happens, we need to make sure the water is cleared quickly and effectively from roads and pavements.

This can be helped by maintaining the road drainage systems (see frequently asked questions for more details) that are intended to remove water efficiently from the road surface. But when this is not enough, we will take further measures to make sure roads stay open and safe.

Blocked gullies and general road flooding are our responsibility, rivers fall under the jurisdiction of the, Environment Agency - a 24-hour Floodline advice and information service is provided for floods and flood warnings. Roadside ditches and private sewers or drains are the responsibility of the landowner. The local water authority is responsible for public sewers and burst water mains, while town and district councils take responsibility for car parks and amenity areas. An overflowing manhole is our responsibility, possibly in conjunction with the local water authority.

During winter, all water/sewer leaks must be reported to us so that we can carry out winter maintenance.

Report a flooding or drainage issue online

If this issue is causing an immediate danger to the safety of road users, or poses a risk of internal flooding to property, it is classed as an emergency. You should contact us by telephone to report an emergency rather than using our online form. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am - 5.30pm. Dial 999 if outside office hours for our emergency service.

You can tell us about a flooding or drainage issue by registering / logging in to the 'my account' section of the website. 'My account' also allows you to view details of services you have previously applied, booked and paid for. You can also see updates on their progress.

Log in and report a highway issue

If you prefer, you can tell us about a flooding or drainage issue anonymously, but please be aware that you will miss out on the benefits of having an account, such as not receiving progress updates.

You can provide feedback about your experience of reporting a flooding or drainage issue here.

Frequently asked questions

You can make a request for new or additional drainage by contacting us.

It is illegal to discharge drainage directly on to the highway or to connect private drainage into any highway drainage system. If you intend to carry out any alterations to drainage, or make changes in land use which might result in surface water discharging on to the highway, or increased flows in highway drainage, you must consult us.

Road drainage systems are intended to remove water efficiently from the surface of the highway to provide a safe passage for all vehicles and pedestrians and to prevent structural damage to the road.

Many roads have drainage systems which are inspected and maintained on a regular basis and are cleared or repaired depending on the:

  • Type of road (classified or unclassified);
  • Importance of the drain to preventing the road or properties from being flooded or ice forming on the road in winter; and
  • Available funding.

Maintenance of roadside gullies

Keeping gullies clean and fully operational is the responsibility of the county council. Blocked and damaged roadside drains, known as gullies, can cause a hazard to highway users, particularly during periods of heavy rain.

Our approach to highway flooding is one of both proactive and reactive maintenance:

  • Highway gullies are programmed for regular cleaning, which checks that they are fully functioning. This cleaning can also involve water pressure jetting to clear associated pipework;
  • Gullies reported as blocked will be logged and left until the planned visit unless they are causing a health and safety issue;
  • Gullies reported with missing/broken grates will be added to our programme for maintenance of non-urgent works unless they are causing a danger to the public, in such cases they will be dealt with as soon as practicable; and
  • We maintain a database of reported trouble spots where problems reported either by members of the public or by council operatives are kept. These problems are prioritised in accordance with a standard procedure until investigative and remedial works are able to be carried out when maintenance budgets permit.

It must be remembered that problems can occur even when drainage provisions are clean and well maintained, for example as a result of:

  • Exceptional rainfall;
  • A road being in a low lying area;
  • Changes in 'run off' from adjoining land;
  • Rivers overflowing; and
  • Material carried into drains by floods.

The table below describes the different types of drainage that is used on the highway.

Drainage feature


Road gullies and grills

Drainage gratings at the edges of the road.

Connect either to highway drainage, which is maintained by the county council or, in urban areas, public sewers which are the responsibility of the local water company.


Water flows from gullies into the soakaway. This is a large underground chamber usually found in more rural areas where sewers are not present.

Water collects and gradually soaks through holes into the surrounding ground or to streams and roadside ditches.


A manhole on a drainage system with a sump; i.e. the bottom of it is lower than the pipes which go in and out of it. This allows sediment in the water to settle out, helping to keep the pipes clear.

Catchpit sumps are emptied before they fill up so that they continue to be effective.


Some rural roads have channels (grips) cut across verges to let water off the road. These are maintained on the same priority basis as road gullies by the county council.


Pipes and stone culverts carry streams under roads. These are cleared of blockages as required by the county council.

Roadside ditches

These are the responsibility of the land owners on each side of the ditch, not the county council.