Let the drains take the strain: council acts to avoid flooding

Officials ask residents to report blocked gulleys to help reduce the risks of floods this winter

New drains: the council hopes that their latest works will reduce flooding risks in Riddlesdown and Kenley

A £162,000 flood alleviation project carried out in an area near Riddlesdown Station has been completed by the council before the worst of the winter weather sets in.

A range of measures have been put in place to help prevent or reduce flooding and, in the event of severe weather, enable the council to respond swiftly.

“These measures are designed using improved environmentally friendly practices that allow excess water to drain more naturally,” the council says.

Parts of the borough, particularly in Kenley and up to Purley, along the Godstone Road and the course of the Caterham Bourne, were flooded for several weeks in 2014. Promised remediation works arising from those floods were cancelled by the council in 2020.

A more modest set of works was begun at the start of this year.

Water level pressure sensors and cameras have been installed inside roadside gullies, allowing alarms to be set. Should water levels rise, the system will alert the council maintenance team so that they can provide a rapid response.

Digging deep: the trench work has been done to allow more water to soak away more quickly

On Lower Barn Road, towards Riddlesdown Station, flooding would routinely occur at the bottom the hill. The measures introduced included a new soakaway to store water during extreme rainfall, allowing it to dissipate naturally into the aquifer that lies deep below ground.

In Kenley, further interventions include the installation of a penstock gate to manage high flows of rain in the Bourne between Bourne View Allotments and Roke School.

In the same area, the council has installed a “Datasphere” which provides information via sensors and sends email alerts when water levels begin to rise. The system also has a CCTV camera at the allotments which gives live video streaming of the conditions on site.

The council resilience team is working to identify and prioritise other areas of Croydon where similar schemes could be used to alleviate flooding and to provide long-term protection against the effects of climate change.

“We must act now to make places where people live, work, and travel resilient to the effects of extreme weather, including flooding,” said Muhammad Ali, the council cabinet member for “sustainable Croydon”.

“Responding to the Croydon Climate Crisis Commission recommendations, this investment is a step in the right direction towards helping to protect communities from extreme weather conditions.”

Across the borough, the council also routinely cleanses gulleys using high-pressure machinery  – an exercise more necessary over the coming couple of weeks as fallen leaves clog the kerbside drains.

Croydon Council says, “If residents see a gulley in need of cleansing, they are encouraged to contact our resilience department at 0208 726 6000 or via the council’s online reporting site.” Click here for details.

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3 Responses to Let the drains take the strain: council acts to avoid flooding

  1. Mary Jones says:

    I nearly chocked reading that the council have a Resilience dept and encourage residents to report blocked drain gullies. I have been reporting blocked drain gullies on Foxley Lane and Plough Lane Purley since February 2021 on a regular basis via the Don’t Mess with Croydon and Love Clean Streets app. I have over a hundred emails acknowledging my reports which cover at least 37 separate blocked drain gullies. I have emails reassuring me the drains will be attended to by the contractor Conway. I have an email response from Steve Iles, following intervention by Chris Philp MP on my behalf in July 2021. Iles states that drain gullies are only cleaned once a year by the contractor. If they are obstructed by a vehicle or they can’t lift the cover they may come back. My observations are that this doesn’t happen very often. There are so many still blocked (37 at the last count) on Foxley Lane and Plough Lane that I have given up reporting them. If the council has s contract with Conway why aren’t they ensuring the contracted work is carried out? Why do they need an extra pot of money? Residents are already reporting blocked gullies. They must have reports of 100’s to be getting on with already. I won’t even start on the recurring question of Is my council tax being spent effectively and efficiently?

  2. Lewis White says:

    One of the main reasons we are experiencing more and more flooding is nothing to do with climate change–it is the paving of more and more front gardens for off-street car parking.

    Suburban gardens typically had a front lawn and flower beds, which are “permeable”, letting rainfall to soak into the ground, plus a front path and paved driveway, of impermeable concrete or block paving, which did not. The balance in a semi-detached house garden was perhaps 70% permeable to 30% impermerable.

    Now, thousands of Croydon gardens are 100% paved, with not one shred of greenery. Thousads more are perhaps 95% paved, 5% flower bed or unplanted “gravel”.

    Driveways should now be made of the modern “permeable block paving” or — if impermeable like tramc or resin bound decorative gravel on tramac– must have a “cut-off channel drain with grating”, discharging into a soakaway, to intercept and stop all that water from running off on to the street.

    My guess is that only about 50% of paved gardens have such a channel, and that of these, 75% , if inspected, would be found to have no soakaway. Therefore, once the channel fills with silt (which would take a year or so), or fills up with water in a storm, any water falling on the paved garden will run straight off, on to the adjacent street.

    A small number of paved front gardens add a very great deal of run-off water to the street, where it will flow down the gutter to meet the nearest functioning gully…… and in storms, these can’t take all the water, and are filled up, so the strete gets flooded.

    There are many issues here….. first, the designed capacity of the gullies and the soakaways or drains which take the water either into the ground or into the poor old River Wandle. The number of gullies was designed to fit the surface area of the street, not allowing for water flowing on to the highway from front gardens.

    Second, the fact that so many gullies are not emptied yearly.

    Third, if there are soakaways under the street, normally one per gully or pair of gullies, these are now probably 100 years old, and may be silted up

    Where does all this water go?

    Far too much ends up in the sewers, where it runs down to overwhelm the sewage treatment works. So…… a mix of raw sewage and drain dirty storm water is let into the Wandle. Not nice to see and smell, and a killer for wildlife, killing fish and choking the river bed with fine silt, smothering water life, and leaving a festoon of sewer rubbish hanging from the river banks and waterside trees.

    How could we stop this water from paved gardens causing so much damage?

    The answer in my view a licencing and enforcement system. We need to have some form of mini-planning application for all driveways and paved front gardens, with a fee allowing the council to inspect each construction and ensure that they include a soakaway as well as a grating channel.

    This would need an adaption or add-on to the current system whereby if the hiosueholder wants to have a vehicle crossover, or extended crossover, (aka “a dropped kerb”) they have to apply for and be granted a Licence by the Highways Authority, which is Croydon Council.

    If we are serious about flooding, in addition to cleaning every road gulley every year, we need to stop water being added to the highway.

    Paved front gardens don’t have to add to the flooding problem that is already worsening as a result of more intensive storms. Not if they are designed to avoid the issues I have mentioned above.

    The question is— do politicians really care enough to do anything ?

    Too many residents in Croydon are having to put sandbags across their driveways to STOP water flowing IN to their front gardens from the highway in storms.

    Ironically, Surrey rain falling on roads in Banstead flows along the lane to Woodmansterne, then down the hill to Chipstead valley Road, flooding Coulsdon residents. That’s some 2 to 3 miles.

    My guess is that Surrey County Council is not emptying ts gullies any better than Croydon. Paved front gardens in Woodmnsteren are adding to Coulsdon residents’ flooding misery.

    Water and floods are no respecters of political boundaries. They do what they do– flow downhill.

    The solution to flooding is to stop paving the world, and let the rain infiltrate into the ground, preferably through grass and plants, so it gets cleaned and ends up in the aquifer, where it can be used for drinking, not flushed into the Wandle and Thames, which themselves flood due to overload.

  3. George Taylor says:

    Prevention is better than cure. At this time of year, please Croydon Council, hoover up the leaves off the streets before the rain and snow turn them to mush and the sludge goes down the surface water drains!

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