Flood Recovery Program - Gully Emptying

Date: 11th September 2019
Published by: Admin

Flood Recovery Program

The gully emptying teams will start in Bollington this week on an intensive gully clearing program. Over the next few weeks the teams will be trying to tackle every gully in the town.

This is great news but we need your help to ensure they get clear access to the gullies.

As they work their way through the town they will be putting cards through doors and signage on the roads which will be tackled the following day, asking residents and visitors not to park there. We value your cooperation in this matter - it should only be for one day and is for everyone's benefit.

Sorry we cannot give more advance notice on when this will be - it is a rolling program and there will be many factors affecting how quickly each street is completed so it really is one day at a time. The team will be keeping us updated on how the program is going, however, so we will pass on as much information as we can.

If you are going away and normally leave your car parked on the street please try to make alternative arrangements if this is at all possible.

We are aware that during the last round of intensive cleaning/gully clearing some residents moved their cars only for the spaces to be taken by people working in the town during the day. If you feel this might affect your street we will have a stock of the cards here so please get in touch to discuss how we can help.

If you run a business or work in the town and your staff/colleagues normally park on the street please make them aware of the program and ask them to respect the signage as it appears.

What to do if you think a gully has been missed

There are a number of reasons why a particular gully may appear to have been missed;

  • There was a vehicle, or vehicles parked over or too close to the gully. The tanker requires a lot of clearance around the gully and this includes on the opposite side of the road to allow room to manouvre the boom arm.
  • The ironwork has become jammed over time.
  • The detritis has been removed but the blockage has not cleared and will need further investigation. This could be due to tree roots blocking the pipes, cracks in older pipes and breaks in joints caused by ground movements. Unfortunately the culprit is often utility companies causing damage when they dig up the roads - they are obliged to report any damage but this sometimes does not happen. Although they may ultimately be obliged to pick up the bill these specialist repairs take a long time.

It is normal to still see water in the drain after it has been cleared as they are designed to retain water below the outlet pipe. This is particularly important where the outlet discharges into a sewer as it prevents the smell from escaping. In fact in periods of dry weather smelly drains can be improved by topping the pot back up with water.

We understand the team will report back to us about any problems they encounter so let us know if you think one has been missed and we can double check. They will return to have another go at any gullies they have not been able to clear. However there may be reasons beyond their control for a gully not to be unblocked successfully. To appreciate some of the challenges they may encounter it helps to understand how the road drainage system works and where the water goes.

The Drainage System

A highway gully is a large pot in the ground covered by a metal grid and is usually found at the edge of a road. Rain water flows off the road surface into these gullies and then through underground pipes, sewer systems, soakaways, catchpits or roadside ditches, and on occasion directly into watercourses. The majority of gullies are connected to public sewers that carry both foul and surface water. Cheshire East Council has 92,000 and the number grows with each new housing estate. More information about the routine gully emptying schedule can be found here

The Council is reponsible for the pots and connecting pipework.

To clear a gully

  • 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. If the water runs away, this means the drain is clear. If the water does not run away, high pressure water is jetted through the connecting pipes to clear any blockages.

Beyond the highway drains the water has to have somewhere to escape to, be it a sewer, culvert or river and more often than not these are owned by third parties such as United Utilities making flood prevention a multi-agency issue.

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.

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