Surface water flooding – York Council and Environment Agency plans updated

Gale Lane blocked footway gully

The recent surface water flooding which we saw a few weeks ago is being addressed by the Council. In a report to be considered next week, they say that their Flood Risk Management Team is currently investigating the consequences of the 13th August 2018 storm which affected the city. More than 40mm of rain fell on the city in just over 15 minutes, Rainfall rates more than 120mm/hour were recorded.

The problems seemed to be exacerbated by blocked gullies. This was a problem on some roads where footpath gullies were obstructed.

A policy adopted by the then Labour controlled Council 5 years ago meant that gullies were cleaned only upon report. Due to this reactive cleanse policy in recent years, approximately 53% of drains have been found to be blocked upon attendance.

The Council says the revised gulley cleansing policy aims to proactively cleanse all gullies on the gritting network annually and all other assets are reactively cleansed following reports of issues. “There are more than 43,000 gullies in the CYC area and approximately half of these are on the gritting network”.

The Council has allocated funding, in the period up to 2020, which will allow the whole network to be surveyed, the development of an improved asset register and an effective proactive cleanse of each asset to be carried out. Over the whole programme, which started in 2015, the added investment will have ensured that in the region of 23,000 gullies were left in a free running state that were previously not draining effectively.

Additional gullies cleansed, and data recorded

2015/16 8,000
2016/17 15,074
2017/18 12,810
2018/19 2,468 (to date)

However, more than 900 ‘non-runner’ assets have been identified where the gulley cleansing process could not ensure free drainage and significant engineering works (digging out) are required to improve them. None of the current defects were found to be in a location where property flooding could occur as a direct consequence of severe rainfall.

Separately the meeting will consider an update report from the Environment Agency on tacking river flooding issues across the City. The Agency is doing well in keeping residents briefed on the work that they are doing. They have now started a web site which builds on their communications plan tick here This complements the information  “hub” that they established on Wellington Row.

Generally, the update says that work to improve flood defences is proceeding in line with the agreed timetable

53% of road drains found to be blocked in York Council survey

£5 million cost to upgrade whole system

Considerable concern was expressed in 2015 when it was discovered that large areas of highway were flooding during wet weather. Many residents complained that the reduced  gulley cleaning service – introduced by the last Labour led Council – was inadequate. The City has over 42,000 gulleys.

In 2016 and 2017 there were major surface water problems in several parts of York.

The led the new Councillor – Andrew Waller – responsible for surface water drainage systems to institute a review of standards.

The initial findings of the comprehensive survey into the effectiveness of drainage systems will now be presented to a meeting next week

The report says,

“To date more than 35,000 of the 43,690 known gullies have been logged, investigated and cleansed as part of the capital funded investigation process, a flood risk assessment process has been previously carried out to ensure key assets have been prioritised.

53% of all assets were found to be blocked but significant work has ensured the majority of the system investigated to date is operating effectively, however more than 900 assets will require wider engineering works to ensure they can operate effectively”.

With many gullies now cleared, the report goes on to say,

“Subsequent heavy rainfall events have given rise to reduced numbers of complaints and reports of localised flood incidences, this is a clear indication of the success of this process, however, significant rainfall such as experienced on the 23rd August this year can still overwhelm a well maintained and operable drainage system as their design capacity would be compromised”.

The findings of an investigation into surface water ponding on Acomb Green is included in the papers (see below)

Time to report blocked gullies in York – new salt bins arrive just as snow is forecast

As well as the flooding the ongoing rainfall has revealed a number of drainage issues on local highways.  With the first snow of winter now forecast, it is important to get local drainage systems working efficiently as quickly as possible.

As well as arranging special gully cleans, the York Council does have a small budget available to “dig out” drains which are permanently blocked.

It is important to record issues with the York Council using “on line” services such as “Fix My Street“. Dozens of issues have been reported using this service over the last 6 months. Their web site shows which issues have been dealt with and which are outstanding

Blocked gulley on Bellhouse Way reported to Council
Blocked gulley on Bellhouse Way reported to Council
A replacement for the salt bin (removed by the Labour Council 3 years ago) has now been installed in St Stephens Mews courtesy of the Westfield Ward committee
A replacement for the salt bin (removed by the Labour Council 3 years ago) has now been installed in St Stephens Mews courtesy of the Westfield Ward committee

Rain reveals more blocked drains

Yesterdays steady rain revealed more blocked drains

We’ve reported several but really think that it is time for the Council to reinstate 6 monthly routine cleans.

Failing that, they need to  actively clear those drains that have – like the one below in Bellwood Drive – been blocked for months.

If there is large scale ponding on footpaths, then the arrival of icy weather will multiply safety problems

Blocked drain in Bellwood Drive

Blocked drain in Bellwood Drive

Dozens of streets in York have collapsed drains

Extent of repair backlog in York revealedKWW junction Windsor Garth 1

At least 55 streets in York have gulleys which are permanently blocked. The blockages mean that heavy rain is likely to result in extensive ponding and in some cases flooding.

The Council has responded to a Freedom of information request and revealed the list of streets which will be “dug out” this year. (see below)

The Council claims only to have 6 outstanding complaints about long term blocked drains.

However it has received 459 complaints about blocked drains during the last 18 months taking an average of 5.5 days to have the gulleys emptied.

The Council has been criticised for stopping the routine cleaning of most gulleys in the City. Instead they now respond only to complaints.

Heavy rain last month resulted in considerable flooding on highways and footpaths cross the City. It seems that many of the problem areas may not have yet  been added to the Councils list of outstanding work.

The list of locations receiving significant engineering attention this year include:

  1. Ten Thorn Lane
  2. Back Lane
  3. Shipton Road (inside outer Ring Road)
  4. A1237
  5. School Lane
  6. Wetherby Road
  7. Field Lane
  8. Windsor Drive
  9. Hull Road
  10. York Road
  11. Bishopthorpe Road
  12. Wigginton Road
  13. Top Lane
  14. A1237 (Millfield roundabout)
  15. Wetherby Road
  16. Main Street
  17. Weldrake Lane
  18. Karelia and Ashdale Crossing
  19. Long Lane, Heslington
  20. Vicarage Lane
  21. Cow Moor Bridge
  22. The Village, Stockton on Forest
  23. The Village, Strensall
  24. Cleveland Way
  25. Bad Bargain Lane
  26. Moor Lane
  27. Lords Moor Lane
  28. Naburn Lane
  29. Elvington Lane
  30. Grantham Drive
  31. Welland Rise
  32. Beckfield Lane
  33. A1237, Rawcliffe
  34. Hurricane Way
  35. Sitwell Grove
  36. Huntington Road
  37. Front Street
  38. Bishopthorpe Road
  39. Haxby Road
  40. Gray Street
  41. Dauby Lane
  42. School Lane
  43. Malton Road
  44. Shipton Road
  45. Sheriff Hutton Road
  46. Strensall Road
  47. Mill Lane
  48. Corner Close

Call for York Council to publish information on blocked drains

Windsor Garth

Windsor Garth

Walton Place

Walton Place

Windsor Garth 33 to 53 Windsor Garth Carlton House 2 Windsor Garth close to Ashford Place

Kingsway West

Kingsway West

Gale Lane

Gale Lane

Danesfort Avenue

Danesfort Avenue

Following a couple of weeks of heavy rain problems with the City’s drainage systems have become more obvious. While most publicity has centred on roadside gullies, the lack of regular cleaning of channels in pedestrian areas, on footpaths and in car parks is also a concern.

As we reported earlier this month, the Council has discontinued the routine “emptying” of gullies. They rely on residents to report blockages. In turn, this depends on the Councils – sometimes creaking – customer contact systems.

As the photos show, even after the rains stops, it takes too long for some areas to drain.

The Council has in the past taken some action to alleviate longer term problems. The then LibDem led Council introduced almost a decade ago a programme aimed at dealing with blocked drainage pipes.

In some cases this meant digging out compacted earth while in others concrete run off had blocked some drains. Some roads had to be re-profiled to provide a better run off.  Yorkshire Water – who are responsible for sewers – occasionally have to power wash out their systems, with carelessly discarded cooking fat often blamed for blockages

There has been a move away from non permeable surfaces with new parking areas on many estates now using a matrix style surface to allow natural soak away.

There have been no reports on the quality of drainage systems made to Council committees recently.  Quality of service data is hard to come by.

A Freedom of information request has now been submitted to the Council asking about the number of outstanding drainage complaints and the number of known long term blocked gulleys where significant engineering work is required to remedy the problem.

The Council is being asked how much it will cost to clear blocked gulleys and the timetable for so doing.

The Council has 28 days in which to respond to the information request.