Drainage systems


  • remove surface water to help keep roads safe and minimise problems
  • prevent damage and make roads last longer through effective drainage
  • minimise surface water affecting properties or land.

How we look after our drains

We have a planned programme to look after most A roads and key routes that connect towns and villages. This is a cost-effective way to work and helps minimise disruption.

Roadside drains are inspected and cleaned once a year.

Locations vulnerable to flooding are cleaned every 6 months.

If a drain isn't on the planned programme, it is maintained in response to reports of flooding.

We aim to carry out non-emergency drainage cleansing in 28 days, but during extreme weather or busy times following flooding it can take longer to attend.

Reported drains are then risk assessed for highway safety and internal property flooding. This helps identify defects in our drainage systems if further works are needed

If the risk is moderate or high, there may be a need for additional drainage to reduce flooding. We can do specialist work such as CCTV investigations and root cutting, but it will take longer than 28 days to complete.

To improve the drainage systems, our engineers' work includes:

  • investigation work
  • minor works
  • broken pipe repairs
  • installing and enhancing drainage systems.

This work is planned in advance.

If flooding keeps happening in the same place we will investigate how the situation can be improved. This includes:

  • how much work is needed
  • what traffic management is needed
  • the risk the flooding poses to road users and residents.

We also investigate if the frequent flooding:

  • poses a risk to highway safety
  • affects homes or businesses
  • affects the condition of the road
  • causes disruption to traffic.

We prioritise repairs based on the highest risk sites first.

How you can help

Park your car somewhere else if you see signs telling you that cleansing will take place. We can't clean the drains if your car is in the way.

Don't tip waste such as concrete and oil down the drains as this can block the pipes and contaminate nearby streams, rivers and land.

Remove fallen leaves covering gully grills if you can do this safely. When doing this:

  • wear gloves if you are clearing leaves by hand.
  • put leaves in your normal rubbish bin or in a compost bin.
  • be careful not to step into traffic on the road and be aware of pedestrians.
  • don't lift the drain covers or put your hands into the drain as there might be sharp objects you cannot see.


If you are concerned about flooding, make sure that you report flooding to the right people.

If a blocked drain or flooding on a road is causing you concern report it to us.

We don't look after public sewers or fresh water pipes. If sewerage or a water leak is causing a problem on the road or pavement you should report the fault to the appropriate water company.

If you have alerted us to a flood, we would like to hear from you.

Complete our online survey to let us know how we dealt with the report. For those who require a paper survey to complete, please email flood@kent.gov.uk.

Other parts of our drainage system

We look also look after ponds, lagoons, pumping stations and soakaways which drain water from the road.

Ditches and grips

Ditches are generally the responsibility of landowners, although these ditches may take highway surface water. If a ditch needs maintenance works we can request landowners to do the required work.

Ponds and lagoons

Some highway drainage systems drain to roadside ponds and lagoons. These are inspected and maintained in response to reports of flooding.

Pumping stations

We own 15 highway pumping stations. These are serviced every 12 months with additional maintenance done if needed.


Soakaways are large underground tanks. Water drains from roadside drains, through pipes and into these chambers where it gradually soaks into the ground. If cleaning roadside drains doesn’t clear the flooding, we investigate if nearby soakaways may also need cleansing.