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Record number of gullies cleared this year

A member of the Worcestershire Highways team cleaning out a gully. Published Wednesday, 16th December 2020

Worcestershire County Council have cleared nearly 60,000 gullies so far this year.

That is over half of all the gullies throughout the county!

Keeping the gullies clear helps to ensure that the overall drainage system will not become blocked. It also helps to reduce the likelihood of flooding and helps surface water drain away quicker.

Councillor Alan Amos, Cabinet Member for Highways said: “Keeping our gullies and drainage systems clear is an essential part of our highways maintenance programme. Our teams have done a great job this year of keeping as many of them as clear as possible”

“I’d like to ask for the support of our residents to help keep our network of 115,000 gullies clear. Don’t be tempted to wash anything down the gullies (you’d be amazed at some of the things found in the system!) and, if you see a grate is covered with leaves and silt, a good scrape with a welly is usually enough to remove the build-up and help the water drain effectively”.

In terms of how the system works, the grate is usually the only part you would see from the road unless you looked through the gaps in the grating into the gully.

Below the grating the gully has a sump and an outlet and as water flows into the grating, it often washes silt, and sometimes smaller leaves and litter, into the gully. The sump is there to provide some capacity to catch this silt and prevent it washing into the gully outlet and into the drainage system.

If silt gets into the drainage system, it is far more difficult to remove and could cause blockages leading to broken pipes or flooding. The gully will still work perfectly well with the sump full so long as it does not block the outlet. This is why it is important to clear the gully before the silt levels become too high.

The Council often gets feedback that drains are holding water and not draining clear. Whilst this might sometimes be the case, it is usually water sitting in the sump which can’t get out of the outlet. A bit like a kitchen sink – the trap will always hold some water but is still perfectly functional.

If the gully really is blocked or not working for any reason then residents can report an issue with a gully by visiting the Report It section of the Council's website.

Maintaining the overall drainage system is essential and all gullies are on a monthly, annually or bi-annually cleansing programme.

When working out which gullies need cleaning when, the Highways team operate an optimised system whereby data is stored on each gully and the cleansing frequency is based on the predicted levels of silt.

The gully data is handled on a tablet which records the gully ID, the date and time, GPS coordinates, silt levels, and any defects that require monitoring.
This information is then uploaded on to the Council’s GIS mapping system. Using the data, the silt levels are compared to previous cleanses and the frequency of cleansing is reviewed and can be increased or decreased as appropriate.