Getting ready for winter

New technology at work in highways flood resilience

Oct 4 2016

Flood resilience

As the nights draw in, Hampshire’s highways teams have been getting ready for the winter weather, making sure roadside gullies are clear so rainfall can drain away and keep water off road surfaces.

All year round, we carry out a cycle of inspections, clearing and maintenance work on Hampshire’s 60,000 gullies and 4,600 catchpits. A rolling programme of installing drainage improvements continues to make the county’s roads more resilient to the effects of the weather.

This year, we’re trying out some innovative technology to help us get to the gullies that most need attention, ahead of any potential problems. Our engineers have installed new sensors in roadside gullies as part of a trial. The sensors automatically provide data on key factors that affect flooding on the roads, such as silt and water levels in the gullies, and combine this with weather forecasts. This information contributes to an inventory of each gully which, in turn, indicates where we need to direct resources, and when.

Gully cleaning

As well as gullies in the roadsides, ditches on private land also need to be clear for water to run off the roads, particularly during periods of heavy and intense rainfall.

That’s why we ask all residents to make sure ditches on their land are clear to help prevent localised flooding this winter. While flooding can’t be completely prevented, there is a lot we can all do to reduce the impact on our communities. Regularly checking ditches and watercourses to make sure they are clear of leaves, vegetation and other debris, and not blocked up by grass cuttings or other rubbish significantly helps reduce flooding on local roads after heavy rainfall.

If you own land or property next to a river, stream or ditch you are a likely to be a ‘riparian landowner’ and therefore have a responsibility to keep the watercourses on your land clear and free flowing. This includes piped sections of watercourses that lie under driveways as it is these restricted locations that are often the most vulnerable to flooding and need the most attention.

When flooding does occur, the County Council’s team of emergency engineers is on call continuously, seven days a week, to unblock highway drains and clear fallen trees from roads – all to keep the county’s roads clear and traffic moving. It’s worth remembering that in times of extreme weather the County Council’s priority will be to protect essential services, such as roads and public buildings.

While the County Council will do all it can to reduce the impact of flooding, if you live in an area at risk from flooding, you can help prepare yourself by buying sandbags in advance – available from most builder’s merchants and DIY stores. You can also register for flood alerts for your area from the Environment Agency. 

Report a flooding or drainage problem

More information on flood management and prevention