Inside Nottinghamshire’s highways drainage network

17 November 2020

Councillors have heard first-hand about how Nottinghamshire’s network of highways drainage assets are maintained, repaired and inspected.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee heard of common misconceptions around how drainage systems work and how Via East Midlands alongside subcontractors ACL cleanse the county’s network of 147,000 gullies.

In 2019/2020, ACL attempted to cleanse 100% of Nottinghamshire’s gullies, however parked vehicles and gully defects meant that 4% were unable to undergo such cleansing.

Gullies collect surface water from the highway and direct it towards watercourses, and councillors heard that during exceptionally heavy rainfall and storms, there is a common misconception that gullies becoming overwhelmed means that the system has failed or become blocked.

During these periods there is so much water attempting to travel along highway drains that it can exceed the pipework’s capacity to carry it. This situation can lead to a build-up of pressure within drainage systems causing water to seek a point of escape which may result in it welling up through road gullies or manholes. This is something that communities in Nottinghamshire have experienced during recent flooding events. 

The county council, alongside Via East Midlands, is investigating the procurement of telemetry and CCTV equipment which would allow drainage assets to be monitored remotely.

Risk Management authorities including the county council, the Environment Agency and district and borough councils, would then be able to monitor the condition of drainage assets during storm events.

Councillor Phil Rostance, Vice-Chairman of the Communities and Place Committee, said: “Our highways drainage systems are key to ensuring water flows off the highways and into watercourses.

“Maintaining these systems is particularly important to ensure they can work to their full capacity during flooding and storm events, which Nottinghamshire has seen a number of over the last 12 months.

“Successfully cleansed gullies and issues accessing gullies are all recorded, and where any defects are found by our teams, Via East Midlands will take action to repair this.

“Our drainage teams recently cleansed their 24,000th gully since April of this year, and we would like to ask residents to play their part in ensuring that our teams can access gullies when needed.”

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