Drainage systems

Highway drains help to keep water off the road and make it safe for drivers and other road users.

We look after roadside drains, ponds, lagoons, pumping stations and soakaways which drain water from the road. Highway drainage systems are not designed to remove water from nearby land or properties or to act as an overflow for land drains, watercourse or sewers.

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

We carry out 2 types of maintenance on road drains.

Targeted maintenance

We maintain some drains in response to enquiries and reports of flooding.

You can report non-urgent issues online.

Planned maintenance

We carry out planned maintenance on main roads – these are mostly A roads and the key routes that connect Kent's towns and villages.

Once every 12 months we clean roadside drains as part of the planned programme. This is the most cost effective way to work on these roads and helps us to reduce the disruption for local residents.

Once every 6 months we clean drains in over 250 locations in Kent that are particularly vulnerable to serious flooding when the drains become blocked.

We maintain a small number of ponds and lagoons that hold water drained from the highway.

We inspect and maintain these when people report a problem.

We own and maintain 14 pumping stations across the county. Each pumping station is routinely inspected and serviced every 12 months.

Soakaways are large underground tanks. Water drains from roadside drains, through pipes and into these chambers where it gradually soaks into the ground. At the moment we clean soakaways when people report a problem. If the drains in the road are holding water, this can mean the soakaway needs cleansing.

We don't look after public sewers or fresh water pipes. They are the responsibility of water or sewerage companies. 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.

The owner of the land next to a ditch is responsible for maintaining it.

There are three categories of roadside ditch:

  • a ditch created by us and owned by us solely for draining the highway. This is our responsibility.
  • a ditch on the road side of boundary fences and hedges taking land drainage as well as highway drainage is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner
  • a ditch on the field side of a boundary fence or hedge taking land drainage as well as highway drainage is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner.

We have a right to drain the highway to any roadside ditches. We might do this by piping water from a drain into the ditch or by cutting grips between the road edge and the ditch. We have to look after the drains, pipes and grips which channel the water.

We maintain our ditches and grips when people report problems about them.

How you can help

There are some things you can do to help keep roads free from water:

  • 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
  • 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
  • if fallen leaves are covering the gully grills and you can safely remove them then please do. These can be disposed of in your normal rubbish bin or in a compost bin.

When removing leaves from drains, be careful not to step into traffic on the road and be aware of pedestrians on pavements.

Don't lift the drain covers or put your hands into the drain as there might be sharp objects you cannot see. Wearing gloves is always a good idea if you are clearing leaves by hand.

Play video
Find out how we cleanse the gullies in Kent.