Highway drainage

Details of how we maintain drainage systems to reduce the risk of standing water on roads, pavements and cycleways.

Example of a road gullyThere are a number of ways to drain roads, but gullies are the most common. A gully is a large pot covered by a metal grid, usually found at the edge of a road or in pedestrian areas. 

They are used to collect surface water from the road or pavement and drain it into a piped system (generally a 'surface water sewer' maintained by Anglian Water), an adjacent stream or river (referred to as a 'watercourse') or a roadside ditch. They can become blocked by a build up of silt or mud coming off the road, or washed off nearby land.

Read our quick guide to find out information and details on cyclic and reactive drainage. 

Cyclic and reactive drainage quick guide (PDF 505,KB) 

If you'd like to read other guides similar to this, on highways topics such as highway emergencies, visit our quick guides page

Ditches are watercourses which can be found alongside roads to assist in the drainage of surface water. From time to time these ditches will become blocked and in particularly bad cases they may even cause a flood.

Although Suffolk County Council has the right to drain a highway into these ditches, it is the landowner's responsibility to ensure that the ditch is not blocked. 

For more information on ditches and riparian ownership, please visit our riparian ownership in Suffolk page. 

You can report a blocked drain or problem with a manhole cover online using our Highways Reporting Tool.

If you come across a missing or collapsed manhole cover call 0345 606 6171


You should contact your district or borough council when:

  • highway drains are blocked by leaves and litter
  • there are blocked drains in a car park run by a borough or district council

If there is a blocked drain on a trunk road, inform National Highways by phoning 0300 123 5000.

You should contact the landowner if there is a problem with:

  • drainage from private houses, roads or land (Anglian Water may also be able to help with this)
  • open ditch drainage systems next to roads

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