Drain cleaning

We are responsible for cleaning drains on the public road.

What is a drain?

A drain is made up of an iron grate set in the road with a pot underneath. It has an outlet pipe attached to take water into the main drainage system. The pot collects any debris, leaves, litter, soil and rubbish that is washed off the road ensuring that the collecting pipe doesn't become blocked.

Report broken or missing drain covers

What is a culvert?

A culvert is a pipe-like structure that channels the flow of a stream beneath a road.

What is the difference between a drain and a culvert?

A pipe that carries surface water is often referred to as a drain. A culvert normally refers to a structure larger than a pipe but smaller than a bridge of the type where a brook, stream or river flows beneath a road.

How often we clean drains

We have about 160,000 drains located at the side of roads. They are cleaned at least once every two years, however in known problem areas and on major roads we clean them more frequently either annually or twice a year.

We assess the condition of our drains every time they are cleaned and adjust the frequency so that we can target those that require more regular cleaning. This may mean that those in good condition are cleaned less frequently. We don't clean drains in car parks, blocks of flats or private roads.

Please see our drain cleaning schedule for further information.

Blocked drains

Rain water runs into our drains and then into our drainage system through pipes. When it rains heavily our drains may not be able to clear the large volume of water away immediately. If the water remains standing on the surface when the rain has stopped please let us know but allow a reasonable amount of time for the water to drain away before you do this.

Report a blocked drain

Reasons why drains can become blocked

  • Drain covered in leaves or other debris
  • Connecting pipes blocked with debris or silt;
  • Tree roots blocking the pipes
  • Cracks in older pipes
  • Breaks in connecting pipes due to ground movement

How we unblock drains

We use high-pressure hoses to blast through the pipes to try and clear a blockage and a root cutter attachment to clear tree roots. If we aren't able to clear the blockage we use a camera to locate the problem. Often the only solution is to dig the road up and replace the pipework.

How the drains are cleaned

A tanker with a suction hose takes an average of five minutes to clear each drain.

  • The drain cover is lifted
  • The hose is lowered into the drain pot and the sediment and debris vacuumed up into the tanker
  • Water is then flushed back in to the drain to ensure the system is working properly

Please help us by not tipping waste such as concrete and oil down the drains as this can block the pipes and contaminate ditches, streams and rivers.

Access to drains

Sometimes we need to clean the drains but can't because cars are parked over them. If we need to clean the drains in a road where there are normally cars parked, we will put signs up showing the planned cleaning dates. Please help us by parking elsewhere during this period.

Recycling drain waste

The debris and sediment that we collect is taken to a state of the art drain waste-recycling centre where 60% is recycled. Grit and sand is removed from the waste and used in asphalt and concrete production and the cleaned water is used for washing gravel.

More information on excess water can be found on our flooding pages.

In this section