Skip to main content

Frequently asked questions about drainage


When are the drains are cleaned?

Please see our drain cleaning schedule page to find out when the drains are due to be cleaned in your area.

We clean most drains once a year. In known problem areas, they are cleaned more frequently or in areas of low risk, they are cleaned less frequently.

Can you unblock the drain outside my house?

Yes, we are able to unblock drains on problem sites where the scheduled clean has proved insufficient. You can report blocked drains to us online.

We use a high pressure-jetting machine to clear any blockage. There is a high demand on this machine that inevitably means that we cannot deal with all problem sites immediately. We therefore prioritise sites that have potential to cause the most inconvenience, such as those regularly used by pedestrians and large numbers of vehicles.

In some cases there may be further problems with the drainage system itself which the high pressure jetter cannot fix, such as broken pipes. If this happens, we will let you know how long it is likely to take to fix.

Report a blocked drain

Will you be able to unblock drains blocked with fallen leaves?

Where a drain has been blocked due to fallen leaves, we will unblock them as part of our normal gully cleaning programme. In general, your local borough or district council are responsible for sweeping leaves off the roads.

Return to top

What will you do about flooding from fields?

Road drains are only designed to deal with water from the road and pavement. It is the responsibility of the land owner to ensure that measures are put in place to prevent flooding from their fields.

It is an offence to allow water to run from private property on to the road and where we are aware of persistent problems we may take action against the landowner.

Who is responsible for clearing blocked ditches?

Most ditches alongside the roads belong to the adjacent landowner. We are responsible for a small number of ditches, for which we will carry out cleaning. Please report any blocked ditches for us to take the necessary action.

Report a blocked ditch (flooding and drainage form)

Privately owned ditches

The owner of the ditch has a responsibility to maintain the ditch, and ensure that water can flow unobstructed.

Adjacent owners should not carry out any work on the ditch that would interfere with its proper operation, or restrict road surface water draining into it.

Any proposals to put a pipe in a ditch, or otherwise alter it, will require land drainage consent. For more information about land drainage consent and to download a copy of the consent forms, please see our Ordinary Watercourse consents page.

Can you fix the water coming up through the road and flowing down it?

The most likely reason for this is a broken water main. Please report the problem to us in the first instance and we will investigate and take necessary action.

You can find out who your supplier is by going to the Water UK website.

Return to top

Are you responsible for flood damage to my property?

If your house is flooded and you believe that it is due to the negligence of Surrey County Council, you can make a claim by writing to our Insurance Team.

Please provide details of the date and time of the incident, together with the details of the damage caused and what is being claimed for. You should also explain why you feel that we are responsible.

We will investigate your claim within 90 days and make a decision on whether we are liable.

For further information, please see our Highways Insurance Claims webpage.

What is a soakaway and what does it do?

A standard highways soakaway is a concrete chamber set in the ground, filled with course stone and rubble which allows surface water to naturally filter back in to the earth. Please see our diagram of a typical gully and soakaway arrangement (PDF).

Soakaways are efficient and have low environmental impact, as well as avoiding the need for processing or adding to the current sewerage systems. They are a traditional and effective way of disposing of highway surface water which cannot be funnelled to a river or surface water system.

There are over 8,000 soakaways located in various locations across Surrey. These do not have scheduled maintenance but are treated as and when required.

My toilet won't drain as there is a blockage in the pipes outside. Can you fix it?

We are not responsible for sewage systems. This may be either the home owner's responsibility, or the responsibility of the local water supplier. This will depend where the blockage is.

Return to top

The missing drain cover has been marked with a cone. Why hasn't it been replaced?

Sometimes replacing a drain cover may take a little longer than we would like. This could be because a suitable replacement is not currently in stock at one of our depots, or the drain cover is in a busy road and we need to arrange to do it at night, or with traffic signals.

While we wait to do the repair, the road will be made safe with either cones or barriers. Please contact us if you are concerned about the safety of any locations.

Who is responsible for broken, missing or sunken drain covers?

We are responsible for replacing broken or missing drain covers. Please report them to us using our online form.

Report a broken, missing or sunken drain cover (ironwork form)

Who is responsible for broken, missing or sunken manhole covers?

Most manhole covers are owned and maintained by utility companies. Surrey County Council will, however, place a safety barrier around any emergency hazards to alert road users.

For information about how we deal with manhole covers, please see our Reporting damaged or missing manhole covers webpage.

What happens if I drop my keys down a drain?

We know that this can be distressing. If you drop keys down a drain please call us on 0300 200 1003 to see if we can help. Our teams do have tools for retrieving keys from drains and there is no charge for this service.

This is not classed as a highway emergency and although we will make every effort to attend as soon as possible and usually within a few hours, we cannot guarantee that we can attend on the same day as it is reported (during storms and busy periods it could even be up to 5 working days before we can attend). Please do not put yourself and others at risk by attempting to retrieve the keys.

Top