Cumbria is one of the wettest counties in England, and Seascale in Borrowdale receives the highest rainfall in England.
Good drainage is very important for the safety of road users. Getting water away from the road surface is crucial, as flooded roads can be dangerous, and even a thin layer of water in winter may well freeze.
Water also causes maintenance problems, as it can soften the ground under a road, which will allow it to flex and even break up
Most of the larger roads in the County, and those in urban areas have drainage systems, with road gullies catching the water and pipes carrying the water away to watercourses or soakaways. On most minor rural roads, there is little formal drainage, and the water is allowed to run onto the verges, or sometimes into roadside ditches, through channels (called “grips”).
Road gullies have a sump which traps the material washed into them, so that the water flowing in the pipes is not obstructed by accumulations of silt and other materials. This means that the road gully sumps have to be cleared from time to time, to remove the silt etc.
Most road gullies have fairly large sumps, which means that emptying once or twice per year is sufficient to keep the system operating efficiently. However, some old gullies (usually in the old parts of towns and villages) require more frequent attention, as the sumps are very small.
We sometimes need to do additional work following exceptional weather when considerable quantities of soil can be washed into the road gullies.
Flooding is a problem at certain locations, often where there is no formal drainage system in place, although can occur when (for example) gully gratings get blocked with rubbish such as plastic bags. We use flood warning boards to draw the attention of drivers to the presence of standing water on the road when the problem cannot be cleared immediately.